Philip Seymour Hoffman dies of a Heroin overdose and Shawn Pyfrom publicly admits to being an alcoholic and a drug addict on the same day. What a powerful message that addiction is no respecter of gender, age or social status. It can affect people who seem to have everything just as easily as those with nothing. We have no intention of moralising in this article, at least not with those affected by the problem. It is sad to lose someone, anyone, who is in the prime of life. It is doubly sad when that person is clearly as talented as Mr. Seymour Hoffman was.
Shawn Pyfrom is a different case. Here is a young man who has managed to get his life back by getting into recovery. More than that, he has exposed himself to possible criticism and shame by publicly admitting that he has a substance abuse problem and is dealing with it.
We would like to publicly congratulate Mr. Pyfrom for his great achievement of five months of sobriety. To some of you that may not seem like much, but it is a huge effort for any addict. Well done, Mr. Pyfrom.
However, what is sad, and concerning about Shawn Pyfrom’s statement is that it begins with the words "…against the advice of others". It would appear that Shawn is to be even more admired for his courage in dealing not only with his addiction but in braving the shame and stigma that accompanies the problem. It is not too difficult to imagine his publicity team being horrified by his disclosures.
In a previous article about the death of Cory Monteith, we called for more openness and honesty about addiction problems. We are still of that mind. We need to bring addiction out of the shadows of the stigma and shame. Driving addicts underground does not make it go away. Quite the opposite actually — it flourishes in secrecy and despair. Indeed it is almost a cliché, albeit a tragic one, that the rich and talented addicts die alone in a hotel room.
For addicts to be encouraged to admit a problem and seek help, they need to know that there is a way out and that recovery is possible. That is why Shawn's disclosure is not only courageous but is badly needed. We need people like Shawn Pyfrom — celebrities who will make a stand publicly, who are not afraid to say "I am an alcoholic and/or addict and I am in recovery".
There is a movement at present towards this openness. We see it in the Recovery Walk, where recovering alcoholics and addicts march with pride, declaring their recovery. Also, the film Anonymous People, which shows that millions of people are in recovery, living useful and fulfilling lives. It is a begining to say the least.
The more we publicize addiction and remove the stigma, the quicker people will admit to having a problem. And the more we publicise recovery, the more likely alcoholics and addicts will come forward for help and support. So we are sorry that Philip Seymour Hoffman died in this way, it is a great loss, but we applaud the example of Shawn Pyform. Let's not let people die of secrecy.
If you have a problem with addiction you can find help and support here. If you live with someone who has an addiction problem you can find help here. Also, I am currently looking for people in recovery to contribute their experience to a book I'm working on about addiction. Visit my site drjohnmcmahon.com/book-recovery/ to learn more.
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