PLYMOUTH, Minn. -- Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead Sunday in his New York City apartment, law enforcement officials confirmed to NBC News.
Minnesota is a state renowned for treating drug addiction, and here, Hazelden's medical experts believe Hoffman's death brings renewed focus to an opiate epidemic surging right from our own medicine cabinets.
"The problem with celebrities and heroin is that both of those things drive the message very far from our homes. This is really a problem with prescription pain medication epidemic. That's in our neighborhood homes and medicine cabinets," said Dr. Joseph Lee, medical director of Hazelden's youth facility in Plymouth.
Dr. Lee says heroin is usually the end stage of a prescription drug problem.
"In a culture that saves prescription medication for a rainy day in our medicine cabinet, we are all complicit in it in some ways if we are not being part of the solution," said Dr. Lee.
A concerned friend found Hoffman in the actor's bathroom, fully clothed. When police arrived, they found Hoffman still had a syringe in his arm. Glassine bags believed to contain heroin were also found. Hoffman fought drug and alcohol addiction in early adulthood but then relapsed this year after a long period of sobriety.
"You might ask yourself how does someone turn to heroin when there is already a taboo in our society about it? It really has to do with the disease of addiction. Once you start going down the road and cross that line - prescription or opiates of any kind - then it's just about economy of getting high," said Dr. Lee.
A recently released study shows there were 69 accidental opiate-related deaths in Hennepin County in the first half of 2013, compared with 84 in all of 2012. Thirty-one of these deaths involved heroin, according to Carol Falkowski, founder of Drug Abuse Dialogues and author of the Minnesota Drug Abuse Trends report.
For resources on where to get addiction treatment in Minnesota, visit the Hazelden webpage or go to the Minnesota Association of Resources for Recovery and Chemical Health for a list of resources.
Hoffman, 46, won the Academy Award for best actor for 2005's "Capote," and was most recently seen in the "Hunger Games" sequel, "Catching Fire." He was nominated for Oscars three other times, including for 2012's "The Master."