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Heroin is forefront in the news right now due to the recent passing of Philip Seymour Hoffman from an overdose. It’s unfortunate that it takes a high profile death for the destruction that this drug causes to make the news, but it does get people thinking and talking about it, which hopefully will lead to some changes in the way the U.S. treats addiction.

Unfortunately, the media coverage also has the adverse effect of creating a demand for the drug. It’s very common for a heroin addict to find out about a particular type of heroin that has caused overdoses and want to seek that specific type out to use due to the thought that it must be “good” heroin. To a non-addict, this type of thinking may sound crazy, but to an addict, the drug has such a strong hold on them that they want the best drugs they can get.
The real dilemma is how can the media cover the damage and destruction that is caused by heroin without creating a higher demand? At Serenity Acres, we recognize that addiction of any type is a biopsychosocial issue. In other words, the addiction is not purely physical or mental in nature. The addiction is rooted in the biology (physical), the psychological (thoughts, emotions, and behaviors), and social (socio-economical, socio-environmental, and cultural) traits or characteristics of the addict.

Only by addressing the role that each factor plays in a particular individual’s addiction will we be able to effectively treat the addiction and provide the appropriate education, interventions, and therapeutic treatment that will be most effective in preventing relapse. Rather than covering these stories with the only focus being on the drug use, the media needs to address the other factors that led to the addiction in the first place. Addiction does not start out full blown. It starts small and keeps growing and growing until it is out of control.Without recovery addiction, your addiction will lead to one of three places: jail, institutions, or death.

Currently, in the United States, addiction is a highly criminalized issue. Often, addicts exhibit many illegal behaviors in order to keep their addiction alive. Things like theft, driving under the influence, and selling or distributing drugs are common things to see on an addict’s rap sheet. While illegal behavior must result in some sort of justice, by only providing punitive punishments to addicts, we end up missing a big opportunity to help them change for the better and to be able to be healthy, happy, productive members of society. Individuals may “dry out” while in jail or on probation, the root issues that contributed to the addiction in the first place often remain untreated. So the addict ends up back out on the street dealing with the same problems that led them to drugs or other substances in the first place.

Philip Seymour Hoffman, despite his talent, financial success, and accolades was no more able to fight these demons than any other addict. Often, the more means a person has (financially or through the unhealthy enabling or support of family/friends), the longer it usually takes them to “hit bottom” and finally surrender to the fact that they need help to battle their addiction.

If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction, you can find help in many places, be it 12-step meetings, therapy, or by calling a treatment center to inquire about the different treatment options. It takes a very skilled team of people to help addicts and their families to truly understand the disease of addiction and how to best manage it. It’s not something you should go through alone, and places like Serenity Acres exist to help addicts and their loved ones find peace and happiness that will never be possible as long as the addiction is active.