Philip Seymour Hoffman

Talented actor relapsed and died after being sober for two decades

Philip Seymour Hoffman had worked hard to create a loving home for Mimi O’Donnell and their three children. But in the end, his long struggles with addiction proved to be too much for the talented actor to handle. The first sign was when he suggested trying to “have a drink” again.

“I thought it was a terrible idea, and I said so…He started having a drink or two without it seeming a big deal, but the moment drugs came into play, I confronted Phil, who admitted that he’d gotten ahold of some prescription opioids,” O’Donnell recalls. “He told me that it was just this one time, and that it wouldn’t happen again. It scared him enough that, for a while, he kept his word.”

O’Donnell describes dreading the end of his work on the play Death of a Salesman, because she feared he would once again turn to drugs without a job to focus on.

Tragically, she was correct and instantly sensed that Hoffman had once again turned to heroin. O’Donnell’s words will ring painfully true to anyone who has ever loved an addict: “Every day was filled with worry. Every night, when he went out, I wondered: Will I see him again?”

O’Donnell says that Hoffman was sober for 20 years and speculates on the myriad factors that may have played a role in his relapse — but she’s blunt about the fact that, when it comes to addictions, there are never the clear, straightforward answers we crave.

“[Certain] things were more specific: His longtime therapist died of cancer, which was devastating, and he had a falling out with a bunch of his AA friends. Phil had a love/hate relationship with acting,” O’Donnell says. “The thing he hated most was the loss of anonymity. He was making film after film — we had a big family and had bought a bigger apartment — and AA started to get short shrift.”

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To read more about Philip Seymour Hoffman and his battle with addiction, please visit Refinery29.com.

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