Philip Seymour Hoffman may have been an acclaimed actor, but he died alone, as so many addicts do, writes Russell Brand in the Guardian. It shouldn't be this way, for Hoffman or anyone else. He is yet another victim of drug laws that only worsen the problem they're supposed to fix, argues Brand, a recovering addict himself. Because drugs are illegal, we must treat addicts as criminals, and most don't get the help they need. We know our laws don't work, and we know that places such as Switzerland and Portugal with more tolerant laws have fewer problems, and yet we do nothing to change our system, he writes. Chalk it up to "tradition," "prejudice," and "extreme stupidity."
Brand rattles off a list of questions: "Would Hoffman be alive if this disease were not so enmeshed in stigma? If we weren't invited to believe that people who suffer from addiction deserve to suffer? Would he have OD'd if drugs were regulated, controlled and professionally administered? Most importantly, if we insisted as a society that what is required for people who suffer from this condition is an environment of support, tolerance and understanding." To Brand, the answers are obvious. Click for his full column.