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Ultimately, the responsibility for abusing drugs rests with the user, but there is often enough blame and guilt to go around. The seeds for substance abuse are sown in childhood.
Psychiatrists would typically look towards the mother. But, Phillip Seymour Hoffman seemed to have a very loving relationship with his mother, Marilyn O'Connor, praising her in his poignant 2006 Oscar acceptance speech for Best Actor. His father, Gordon Hoffman, is another matter. His parents divorced when he was nine and his mom was left to raise him and his three siblings alone.
Mimi O’Donnell, Hoffman’s longtime girlfriend and mother of his children, is reported to have pushed him to get help, to have wanted him around, but healthy. One has to wonder whether she was following some misguided therapist’s ‘tough love’ advice when she had him move out of their home and into an ill-fated apartment alone.
Tough love, treating someone you love in an indifferent or harsh manner, with the intent of helping them straighten out, does not work. Even the National Institutes of Health has concluded “get tough treatments do not work and there is some evidence that they may make the problem worse.”
Being an enabler, who looks the other way, or may even provide the addict with their substance of choice, out of fear of otherwise being abandoned, is not the answer either.
The best choice for Hoffman, and other addicts, is an intervention, where friends and family tell the addict how much they love him, how they see him ruining his life, and then whisk him off to a rehabilitation center that is longer than 10 days.
Oh yes, while we’re looking at blame, the psychiatrists who allowed Hoffman to leave rehab, without his being in a state of mind that recognizes how important intensive psychotherapy follow-up is, should also share in it. Many addicts have an underlying psychiatric disorder – such as depression - that they are trying to self-medicate. Could this have been missed in Hoffman? Perhaps so….
Carole Lieberman, M.D., America's Psychiatrist, is a 3-time Emmy award-winner, TV personality and radio talk show host. She's an award-winning author of three books, including her latest, Bad Girls: Why Men Love Them & How Good Girls Can Learn Their Secrets.
For more information on Dr. Lieberman check out her website DrCarole.com.
Follow her on Twitter: @DrCaroleMD
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