Phillip Seymour Hoffman -  November 20, 2013 - "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" NYC Premiere held at AMC Lincoln Square, NYC. Photo Credit: Clint Spaulding/PatrickMcMullan.com/Sipa USA

Apparent Hoffman overdose brings drug war home

OSCAR-WINNING ACTOR Phillip Seymour Hoffman struggled with heroin in his youth, relapsed after more than two decades, and underwent a 10-day substance abuse program last year. On Sunday, the “Hunger Games” star was found dead in his apartment of an apparent drug overdose.

NY: "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" NYC Premiere

Phillip Seymour Hoffman at “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” NYC Premiere (AP photo)

But this isn’t really about Hoffman. This is about my son and my daughters, your nieces and nephews, and all of the children we love. Our children are watching as drugs destroy people they admire. I just hope our children admire us most, because it’s our job to tell them the truth about drugs.

Too often, we allow our children to learn about life from Twitter and TMZ. We sit in silence silently and let them consume media messages at break-neck speed. Too frequently, we fail to guide them through the spin cycle that is modern media. We let society tell them what to believe, even when society is wrong.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my son and daughter to learn about drugs from the mistakes of Phillip Seymour Hoffman, or the shenanigans of Justin Bieber. I want them to learn from me. That’s why I take them with me when I speak about my path into and out of addiction. I want them to to know the unvarnished truth.

My experience with drugs started with marijuana in my late teens. I eventually moved on to cocaine. By the time I reached my mid twenties I’d lost everything more than once, and I believed I would die on the streets of North Philly.

It took more than one brush with death to get me clean, and by the time I put the drugs down and decided to address what was happening on the inside, I was living in a  shelter. The road from homelessness to critical acclaim was hard, and I wouldn’t have been able to navigate it if God had not placed guides along the way. If things had gone differently, I might be dead by now. As it is, I’ve been clean for nearly 18 years, and I’ve learned some truths you should tell your children about drugs.

First, tell your children why you personally believe they should never use drugs. And when you speak with them, don’t do so as if you’ve been perfect. Do so because you love them perfectly. Let your children know there is nothing in this world they can’t talk to you about. You should be their most trusted confidante, not some know-nothing kid at school.

Let your children know that if things should go wrong in their lives, you’re always willing to help them, so long as they’re willing to help themselves. Most importantly, live your life like you want your children to live theirs, because Justin Bieber is not your children’s role model. You are.

Whatever you do, though, make sure you’re real about it. Don’t be fake, and don’t try to sugar-coat it, aand don’t gloss over the alleged Hoffman OD, because I’ve got news for you. If our children believe Justin Bieber is more genuine than we are, we’ve already lost the battle as parents.

* * *

How do you deal with the subject of drug use with your children? Please share in the comments below.

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