Death highlights lifelong addiction issues

KUSA - Broadway theaters will dim their marquee lights Wednesday night in memory of Philip Seymour Hoffman.

The Oscar-winning actor was also a Broadway star who earned three Tony Award nominations.

Hoffman was found dead Sunday at his Manhattan apartment of an apparent drug overdose. A friend discovered his body after Hoffman failed to meet up with his kids.

The 46-year-old actor spent much of his adulthood battling drug addiction. Hoffman had been sober for 23 years.

He eventually broke down and started taking prescription pills, which reportedly led to his heroin use. His drug addiction shows publicly what millions of Americans suffer privately.

The fight against addiction isn't short term. It's not a one or 10 year battle; it's life-long.

"The shame and the guilt and the obsession and craving come back [for addicts], Michael Dinneen said.

It can happen at any time. Dinneen knows this well. He now works with addicts from all walks of life at University of Colorado Hospital. Dinneen used to be an addict himself, until his life changed.

"I just got so tired. I was tired of being sick and tired, and I was just in enough pain," he said.

Dinneen's been recovering for 23 years. He has a young family and career. His life is on track he says, because he knows how quickly things can change.

"Most people get hooked because of the pharmaceutical industry," Dinneen said.

Addictions to prescription drugs, opiates, and heroin is more common. And even when people find sobriety, Dinneen says recovery can never stop. Like with Philip Seymour Hoffman, who fought his addiction for 20-plus years, new issues which lead to relapse can resurface.

"They're going through such intense pain, willing to go through anything just to stop pain," Dinneen said.

A year ago, Hoffman tried rehab after initially relapsing. Sunday morning, it's believed large amounts of heroin were found near his body.

"You start thinking about yourself again, the self-centeredness comes back," Dinneen explained. "The fear comes back, resentments come back. You start to disconnect yourself from other people."

Dinneen says those who relapse suffer even greater internal turmoil after their period of sobriety. In fact, their turn back to drugs may be a way to medicate deeper problems.

After 23 years of recovery Dinneen still has his own sponsor.

For more information on his support team visit


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