Philip Seymour Hoffman

Is Heroin Use 'Soaring'?



Following yesterday's death of the actor Philip Seymour Hoffman from an apparent heroin overdose, MSNBC perceives a "rapidly growing crisis of heroin and other opiate abuse" in the United States. Under the headline "Philip Seymour Hoffman and America's Heroin Problem," Max Lockie reports that "first-time heroin use has increased in the U.S. by nearly 60% over the past decade."

That sounds like a big increase, but overall heroin use rates remain very low. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 0.3 percent of Americans 12 and older used heroin in 2012, compared to 0.2 percent in 2002. During the same period past-month use remained steady at 0.1 percent. According to the Monitoring the Future Study, past-year heroin use among high school seniors actually fell from 1 percent in 2002 to 0.6 percent in 2012.

MSNBC exaggerates the increase in heroin use by focusing on raw numbers instead of rates. A chart accompanying the article shows the number of past-month users rising from 166,000 in 2002 to 335,000 in 2012, which creates an alarming upward curve instead of the flat line you'd get by comparing rates. The effect is less dramatic for past-year use, but it still makes the curve steeper.

A CNN story also cites raw numbers instead of rates and claims, in the label on a video, that "heroin use [is] soaring in [the] U.S." By contrast, the accompanying article refers to "an uptick" and concedes that "heroin remains comparatively rare." Measured by past-year use, marijuana is 40 times as popular.

[Thanks to Stanton Peele for the MSNBC link.]

NEXT: Tonight on The Independents: Anthony Weiner, the Federal Reserve, Super Bowl Commercials, the Debt Ceiling, Joe Namath's Fur, TSA Confessionals, Heroin Overdoses, North Korea Sneak-Peak, Plus Aftershow!

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  1. “first-time heroin use has increased in the U.S. by nearly 60% over the past decade.”

    From two to three?

  2. If you are going to ride the horse, snort it, don’t shoot it. I’ve known people who did a lot of the stuff but kept things together (more or less) and always had virgin veins. You can still OD, of course, but it’s a lot more difficult.

    1. Didn’t what’s-her-name snort it in Pulp Fiction? That looked pretty bad.

      1. “Coke is fucking dead as…dead. Heroin is coming back in a big fucking way”.

    2. Chasing the dragon seems like the best option if you’re going to experiment.

    3. Just as a caution, snorting doesn’t protect you from blood-borne diseases like hepatitis and HIV, because they can pass into the bloodstream through a damaged mucous membrane. So it’s still a bad idea to share paraphernalia.

      1. Makes sense. I imagine snorting heroin is not good for the nasal equipment in general.

  3. Looks like heroin use was skyrocketing in one particular apartment on Sunday.

  4. Based on the volume and content of drugs found on premises, not to mention the timeline, isn’t it reasonably likely this was a suicide? This use hardly seems to be of the recreational variety.

    1. If he only needed 3 bags to kill himself, why buy the other 47?

      It’s more likely that PSH didn’t know that this particular variety was laced with Fentanyl.

      1. Reported numbers are up to 70+ with 5 down. If he worked up to bangin’ 5 at a time then detoxed for a while and resumed with 5 that’ll do it. Classic junkie fuck-up with no fentanyl needed.
        Another common fuck-up is assuming a “new” brand/batch is the same potency as the shitty stuff you had before.

      2. “If he only needed 3 bags to kill himself, why buy the other 47?”

        If you intend to kill yourself via booze, you buy a truckload, when a gallon will certainly do.

  5. I don’t get too bothered by celebs being plucked too soon from their mortal coils, but I was a little sad about PSH. He really was a great actor. He’ll be missed.

    1. Great scene from Charlie Wilson’s War:

      1. And then there’s Hoffman counting to 10 in the opening scene of MI3 before the opening credits:

        1. That was a surprisingly good flick, far and away the best of the series, in no small part thanks to PSH.

  6. From my personal drug experience, ive noticed Opiates are one of the hardest tight ropes to walk for casual but frequent users. I’ve seen very few people manage it very well if they had a large, easy, and or cheap supply.

    But it has the most societal and personal health benefits to it if they legalize it, standardize it, and work on more medicines that negate the physical withdrawal, ect.

    Hoffman may have been a real case of “addiction”, personal demons, and self medicating suicide or whatever. But I’m already sick of the inevitable headlines and epitaphs. Some people just like getting high. Sometimes really high. Sometimes quite frequently. When you’re rich and have connections, the responsibility/trade off factor goes out the window that much easier. Maybe he’s a real case of a tortured soul, but they’re going to say that no matter what if you OD on anything. Especially Heroin. That’s the main reason I wouldn’t want to go out like that. The complete misrepresentation that I took too much of something I enjoyed with fatal consequences. Like driving too fast. Or taking pictures of grizzly bears or something,

    1. “Like driving too fast. Or taking pictures of grizzly bears or something”

      Yeah, or rock-climbing” ‘At least she died doing what she loved!’
      Wonder if the same self-righteous would say the same of this guy, or a guy who simply smoked tobacco and died of heart disease.
      She only did it for a short time; the guy who smoked Pall Malls prolly enjoyed them for decades.

    2. Doesn’t standardization imply regulation? I say this as someone who is personally fine with ingredient listing requirements as a “bare minimum”, but who also understands the possibility for manipulating the market that entails.

      1. Kevin47|2.3.14 @ 9:07PM|#
        “Doesn’t standardization imply regulation?”

        Mostly now, but still not always. Legal dope is selling on the word of the sellers, not a gov’t reg.

        1. Yeah, in the end, no drug company has any incentive to kill the buyer. That’s a brutal sell to the soccer moms, though.

      2. There should be no labeling requirement to list ingredients. However, false labeling is fraud. Consumers can choose what they prefer.

        1. WHOA! Talk about a tough sell to soccer moms!
          You think that precious snow flake is gonna eat something mommy don’t know about?!

          1. If we restore the actual definition of “organic” she will! “Hmmm this product is 100% organic, it must be safe and healthy”

            1. Ya know, when was a wee yute, I ate 100% organic dirt and I certainly wasn’t the only one…

      3. Lets get to the bridge of actually having a sane drug policy that can vastly reduce the risk of accidental overdose and keep thousands out of jail or gunned down before we get all anarcho-purist about it.

        1. I can only imagine ” hard ” drugs being gradually decriminalized with elements of the distribution side being ignored or barely tolerated for long enough to start initiating some standardization themselves.

          Even if it goes full legal, I imagine there will be all kinds of bans on advertising. Massive regulation on packaging. Licensing. Stiff fees fines and penalties. All differing by state and locality. If we see THAT in our lifetime we’d be witnessing a miracle.

  7. He died yesterday. I am shocked it took a day to start moralizing over his death. I doubt it’ll be a River Phoenix deal though because he was older.

  8. I’ve heard a couple people talk about this death as if it somehow means we shouldn’t legalize marijuana.

    I mentioned that marijuana was illegal all of Hoffman’s life, but he got into heroin and died in spite of it being illegal anyway.

    They still seemed to think this somehow means that marijuana shouldn’t be legalized.

    1. Well, to be fair, PSH didn’t die until after marijuana was legalized.


      1. GATEWAY DRUG!

      2. This is Colorado’s fault!

        1. I blame it on Canada.

      3. Wasn’t there something like 17 deaths in Colorado the day that legalization went into effect?

    2. “They still seemed to think this somehow means that marijuana shouldn’t be legalized.”

      Yeah, and (per CNN) people get sick sometimes on some cruise lines and not others, therefore we need international regulations!

    3. I haven’t seen this at all. My Facebook friend mix is largely progs, company men Republicans and Evangelicals, and I haven’t seen a single comment about drug laws. I have seen a lot of genuine remorse among people I had assumed would not be into his movies.

      1. I’m sure these people, who know I’m libertarian, come looking for me just so they can say shit like this…

        Ah ha! We got you, Ken. Seymour Hoffman is dead, so now your whole anti-drug war crusade is in shambles!

        I think that’s the way their lives work. Their thinking is driven by a never ending series of sensational headlines. any one of which could completely defeat everything they thought they knew.

        Sometimes I think I’m getting through to them.

  9. She’s 78, he’s 39 – Age gap is no problem for couples featured in new documentary

    1. “Once some men set upon him.”

      Not quite sure what that means, but it *seems* like a problem.

    2. Simon, 38, had never been kissed before he and Edna snuck off for their first pash at an organ recital.

      Harsh but cruel.

    3. That looks like Welch.

      1. I think that is Welch!

      2. What – where? Behind the rabbit…?

      3. Welch looks like MJK. That 78yo lady looks older than I was expecting..

  10. Of course heroine use is soaring! Look at the media: first you had Lisbeth Salander from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, then Hit-Girl from Kick-Ass, and after that Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games. To even debate this fact is silly!

    1. What’s the big deal with violins in the media!!!

      1. And what about man’s laughter?

  11. Wow that makes a lot of sense dude.

  12. Actually 3 in a thousand does seem like a pretty big number to me for heroin. More than I’d expected anyway.Not that it changes my views on anything, but that was a bigger number than I’d thought. Guess I am naive.


    PSH – Magnolia, Aimee Mann, drug use, depression…..

  14. Never saw a Hoffman movie (sorry – none he was the lead in – and never particularly noticed him the couple others I did see). Like most other celebrity deaths, this one affects me not at all.

    I feel bad for his kids – three kids? That’s sad.

    Otherwise? Man, I just don’t care…sorry 🙁

    1. No big deal.

      You are just not aware of culture today.

    2. “I feel bad for his kids – three kids? That’s sad.
      Otherwise? Man, I just don’t care…sorry :(”

      Absolutely agreed. This was one more guy who spent his career pretending to be someone else.
      I’m happy that he was paid well for his craft, but other than that, he’s a picture on the tabloids at the check-out station. If a neighbor died, I’d be more sympathetic.

      1. Yeah, it’s sad. But on the plus side, at least he didn’t have to watch that stupid half-time show.

        1. Or the damn GAME!

      2. Unless I know the person to some degree, I just don’t have any emotional reaction.

        May also have something to do with having watched my dad waste away from cancer and die when I was 12, then lost both my older brother (age 18) and my younger brother (watched him flatline while he was in the hospital at age 29 – still miss Bob)…and almost buying the farm myself to disease and then a motorcycle accident.

        Someone died? Yeah, we all do, eventually.

        These experiences, and some others, kind of put callouses on my heart, I guess

        1. We all die, but in your case, too many, too young. Sorry that you went through all of that, but sharing it certainly helps me appreciate what I have.

    3. The only thing more nauseating than the moralizing over his OD is the expectation that it be treated as a tragedy. He took his chances, it didn’t work out. So?

      Jonah Hill probably gets more work out of this; there’s your fucking tragedy.

      1. “He took his chances, it didn’t work out. So?”

        I’m in SF and still read the lefty rag passing as a newspaper here.
        At least once a year, we get a sob-fest as some 20-something gets part way up a rock in Yosemite and takes a dive. Well, you know, they were pure people! Of nature! Doing what they love when they croaked!
        Yeah, the guy in the bar hoping to have a last smoke when he kicked off, and the guy on the bike who over-cooked it at 13-Turns on Highway 1 were all of that, too. So?

        1. I climbed a 5.9 in Yosemite and decided I didn’t have the balls for it. I’ll stick to snowboarding.

    4. The kids thing is the kicker. Totally irresponsible and selfish. Those kids are in for a weird ride from here on out, I hope they’re up to it. From way down here it seems being famous and/or rich looks to me as a likely way to screw up your kids in most cases, but what doesn’t these days?

  15. Heroin use isn’t soaring folks, but don’t use drugs. Just do what Nancy Reagan use to tell everyone. Just say no!

  16. I’m no celebrity worshiper either, but the man made some good movies.

    As I have a thing for authority, my favorite was Pirate Radio.

    Fuck it!

    RIP PSH.

      1. Having watched Hutton suck in Rockford last year, I’m going to say he made a spectacular save because he was out of position in the first place.

    1. Jesus saves, but Esposito scores on the rebound.

  17. So, I recently became friends on with a former Beloved reason writer who wrote a column on legalizing heroin. While discussing PSH’s death and drugs in general I linked to this article and accidentally tagged her in a follow-up comment and boom she shows up in the conversation.
    I miss her.

  18. It is well-documented that the U.S. government has ? at least at some times in some parts of the world ? protected drug operations.

    (Big American banks also launder money for drug cartels. See this, this, this and this. Indeed, drug dealers kept the banking system afloat during the depths of the 2008 financial crisis. And the U.S. drug money laundering is continuing to this day.)

    The U.S. military has openly said that it is protecting Afghani poppy fields:…..on/5358053

  19. The United Nations reports a 50% increase in Afghan opium production, a record crop in 2013, and no end in sight for opium eradication.

    Corporate mainstream media outlets politely warn of “failed” eradication, and of the spread of “unchecked” opium cultivation, the corruption of the Karzai administration, and profits to Taliban drug syndicates in the wake of the planned departure of American military forces in 2014.

    What this popular characterization studiously avoids is the fact that this narcotics nightmare scenario is a triumph for the CIA and the world economy. The multi-billion dollar laundering of drug profits supports the Western banking system and the world economy. As explained by Michael C. Ruppert in Crossing the Rubicon, “the CIA is Wall Street, and drug money is king”. Drug money, in Ruppert’s analysis, is the steroids of the financial world.

    The US occupation of Afghanistan existed in large part to revitalize and protect (not “eradicate) the opium market, and to establish a permanent drug empire. This, along with oil and gas related agendas, was a central pillar of the Anglo-American geostrategy that the 9/11 false flag operation and the “war on terrorism” made possible.…..on/5358333

  20. We could conclude that 94,000-128,000 Americans have died opiate drug-related deaths since 2001 linked to the US Alliance restoration of the Taliban-destroyed Afghan opium industry.”

    – See more at:…..XzVWu.dpuf

  21. Assuming that about 50% of an average of 250,000 deaths per year from illicit drugs involve opiates and that about 90% of heroin derives from US-occupied Afghanistan, one can estimate that 0.9 x 125,000 deaths per year x 8.5 years = 0.96 million (about 1 million) people have died since 2001 as a consequence of the US Alliance restoration of the Taliban-destroyed Afghan opium industry.

    What is the breakdown of the circa 1 million US Alliance-complicit, post-2001, opiate drug-related deaths around the world?

    – See more at:…..XzVWu.dpuf

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