The February 2 death of acclaimed actor Philip Seymour Hoffman has again highlighted the dangers of drug use in the headlines. It has been reported that he had sought rehabilitation treatment in the spring of 2013. However, as noted in a February 4th piece by journalist Kareem Aftab of the U.K. Independent, “a story about yet another actor going into rehab for drug addiction has become so commonplace that it’s no longer deemed a big hard news story, even for a seemingly sober, intelligent, well-respected 46-year-old Oscar winner not known for a life on the party circuit.” Hoffman’s untimely death also coincides with the first full month of liberalized marijuana laws enacted in the states of Colorado and Washington.
This fact is not lost on Washington state resident Frank Hoetker, who lost his 28-year old son Darby to a heroin overdose in the late 1990s. Hoetker, a retired banker who has spent the last several years educating youth on the dangers of drugs, has said that Darby had admitted to him that marijuana was a gateway drug on route to the use of harder drugs, which cost him his life.
“As a father who lost a son to drug addiction,” writes Hoetker, in a letter to the editor of the Columbian published on 01/31/14, “I witnessed his slow, painful destruction as he fell over the stumbling blocks of substances, which early on was MJ.
With respect to the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, Hoetker attributes this to the insecurity of many within the entertainment industry and the constant seeking of adoration and approval from fans. “In many ways, they function just like teenagers, wanting to be inclusive in their perceived special circles among those embedded in the entertainment industry. They, too, think of themselves as invincible ‘won’t bring me down!’
“This vacuous need spawns its own degrees of peer pressure, risk-taking, defiance of rules/laws, boorish behaviors, and often medicating their psychological insecurities and hurts”, says Hoetker.
In addition, the passage of the liberalized marijuana laws in Washington State have also led to a 50 percent increase in DUI arrests. Hoetker says, “I’m against this wholesale policy of legalization. I do embrace the notion of decriminalizing minor drug possession/usage, although drug dealers should be hit hard with prison sentences,” he says.
“Addicts need education, treatment, and follow-up care instead of incarceration. Our kids need education about the deadly hazards of drug use/abuse. The entertainment industry does much to glamorize the world of drugs and our children suffer as a result.”
NOTE: Although I did not know Darby well, we attended the same junior high school and he was a teaching assistant in an elective class that I had taken. To learn more about Darby, please visit his Facebook page, “Darby’s Story”, at www.facebook.com/Darbys-Story and to read about Frank Hoetker’s efforts to educate youth on the dangers of drugs.