Why Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Death Is So Scary

Philip Seymour Hoffman

Philip Seymour Hoffman

Published at Salon.com:

If anything, the science on relapses is even more slippery. (We do know that relapse rates for drug and alcohol addiction are comparable to people’s inability to control other chronic illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes, asthma, and hypertension.) The challenges are as basic as agreeing on a definition for long-term sobriety. In a graphic titled “Extended Abstinence is Predictive of Sustained Recovery,” the National Institute of Drug Abuse says, “After 5 years—if you are sober, you will probably stay that way.” I unconsciously added a “forever” to the end of that sentence—but the study that chart is based on ran for eight years, a bar Hoffman cleared easily.

My first attempt at recovery came in 1991, when I was 19 years old. Almost exactly two years later, I decided to have a drink. Two years after that, I was addicted to heroin. There’s a lot we don’t know about alcoholism and drug addiction, but one thing is clear: Regardless of how much time clean you have, relapsing is always as easy as moving your hand to your mouth.

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Seth Mnookin

About Seth Mnookin

Seth Mnookin is a longtime journalist and science writer. His most recent book, The Panic Virus: The True Story Behind the Vaccine-Autism Controversy, won the National Association of Science Writers “Science in Society” Award and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. He is also the author of the 2006 New York Times bestseller Feeding the Monster: How Money, Smarts, and Nerve Took a Team to the Top, which chronicles the challenges and triumphs of the John Henry-Tom Werner ownership group of the Boston Red Sox. His first book, 2004′s Hard News: The Scandals at The New York Times and Their Meaning for American Media, was a Washington Post Best Book of the Year. Seth's 2014 New Yorker piece on rare genetic diseases won the American Medical Writers Association prize for best story of the year and was included in the 2015 Best American Science and Nature Writing anthology. He is an elected board member of the National Association of Science Writers and his work has appeared in numerous publications, including STAT, New York, Wired, The New York Times, Vanity Fair, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, Spin, Slate, and Salon.com. A former music columnist for The New York Observer, he began his journalism career as a rock critic for the now-defunct webzine Addicted to Noise. He graduated from Harvard College in 1994 with a degree in History and Science, and was a 2004 Joan Shorenstein Fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

 
 

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