It says everything about the prevalence of drug culture in the entertainment industry that when Philip Seymour Hoffman admitted to going into rehab early last summer, it barely caused a ripple in British newspapers.
Hoffman said last May that he checked himself into a detox facility for 10 days as he desperately wanted to nip a drug problem in the bud. Hoffman stated that for a year he had been relying on prescription drugs in a bid to kick his resurfacing heroin habit, an addiction he believed he had kicked 23 years previously.
In a 2006 interview in the run-up to his receiving a best actor Academy Award for his brilliant portrayal of Truman Capote in Capote he admitted that after graduating from New York University's Tisch School, he checked himself into rehab as he would consume "anything I could get my hands on. I liked it all."
He said: "I went [to rehab]. I got sober when I was 22 years old. You get panicked... And I got panicked for my life."
Philip Seymour Hoffman 1967 - 2014
Philip Seymour Hoffman 1967 - 2014
A classic shot of Philip Seymour Hoffman as Capote, the role which earned him a Best Actor Academy Award in 2006
2/25 Scent Of A Woman
Hoffman played an affable school boy in 1992 film Scent Of A Woman
3/25 Boogie Nights
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Mark Wahlbergand JohnC Reilly in 'Boogie Nights', 1997
Philip Seymour Hoffman and Lara Flynn Boyle in 'Happiness', 1998
5/25 The Big Lebowski
Philip Seymour Hoffman and Jeff Bridges in 'The Big Lebowski', 1998
Dressed up to the nines in Flawless, 1999
7/25 The Talented Mr Ripley
Another career highlight for Hoffman, in 1999
Philip Seymour Hoffman stars as Phil Parma in 'Magnolia'. This was Paul Thomas Anderson's second film, 1999
9/25 Almost Famous
Philip Seymour Hoffman as Lester Bangs and Patrick Fugit as William Miller in 'Almost Famous', 2000
10/25 Punch Drunk
Hoffman poses in Punch Drunk Love, 2002
11/25 Owning Mahowny
Philip Seymour Hoffman in 'Owning Mahowny', 2003
Philip Seymour Hoffman portrays writer Truman Capote in a scene from the film, 'Capote'. The film looks at the author's journey into writing 'In Cold Blood', 2006
13/25 Mission Impossible III
Philip Seymour Hoffman stars in 'Mission Impossible III', 2006
14/25 Charlie Wilson's War
A scene from 'Charlie Wilson's War' with Tom Hanks as Charlie Wilson, left, and Philip Seymour Hoffman as Gust Avrakotos, right. The film follows Charlie Wilson, a congressman from Texas, who takes an interest in the situation in Afghanistan, 2007
15/25 The Savages
Philip Seymour Hoffman, left, and Laura Linney, right, are shown in this scene from the film 'The Savages'. The film centers on Jon and Wendy Savage and their broken relationship with their father, 2007
Philip Seymour Hoffman portrays Father Flynn, right, and Meryl Streep portrays Sister Aloysius in a scene from 'Doubt'. Streep plays Sister Aloysius who sets off on a personal mission to find out the truth about Father Flynn, 2008
As a man of the cloth, starring opposite Meryl Streep in Doubt, 2008
18/25 Synecdoche, New York
Philip Seymour Hoffman and Hope Davis in Charlie Kaufman's ambitious directorial debut 'Synecdoche, New York', 2008
19/25 'Jack Goes Boating'
Philip Seymour Hoffman makes his directorial debut as he stars alongside Amy Ryan in 'Jack Goes Boating', 2010
20/25 The Ides of March
Philip Seymour Hoffman, left, and Ryan Gosling are shown in a scene from 'The Ides of March', 2011
A truly versatile actor, Hoffman played a baseball coach opposite Brad Pitt in the Oscar-nominated Moneyball, 2011
22/25 The Master
Joaquin Phoenix, left, and Philip Seymour Hoffman in a scene from 'The Master'. The director, Paul Thomas Anderson, acknowledged that Hoffman's character was partially based on Church of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, 2012
23/25 A Late Quartet
Philip Seymour Hoffman in the pleasing 'A Late Quartet', 2012
24/25 Death Of A Salesman
Philip Seymour Hoffman, left, and Andrew Garfield, right, take a curtain call at the Broadway opening night of 'Death Of A Salesman' at the Barrymore Theatre, 2012
25/25 The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Philip Seymour Hoffman starring alongside Woody Harrelson in 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire', 2013
But a story about yet another actor going into rehab for drug addiction has become so commonplace that it's no longer deemed a big hard news story, even for a seemingly sober, intelligent, well-respected 46-year-old Oscar winner not known for a life on the party circuit.
The drug stories that do get media inches are the ones that feature hip stars that are likely to garner a huge amount of hits on websites, and often it's not because of the drug taking.
Last week, a toxicology report revealed that when Justin Bieber was recently arrested for driving under the influence there were traces of marijuana and prescription drugs in his blood. Yet it was not the toxicology report or the drugs that made headlines, but the online petition that was started to get the Canadian citizen deported from the United States. The White House has even stated it would be responding to the online petition that now has more than 254,000 signatories.
The list of young stars being caught up in drug scandals or checking into rehab seems endless. Gossip Girl star Chace Crawford was arrested for being in possession of marijuana. Glee star Corey Monteith died after mixing heroin with alcohol. High School Musical star Zac Efron was also in rehab last year, reportedly fighting a cocaine addiction. Such is the prevalence of drugs that a celebrity needs to be hospitalised or have a run-in with the law for the story to break in the quality press.
The drug culture is prevalent in Britain too. Steve Coogan, who has had his fair share of well-documented drug problems, led the tributes to Hoffman at the London Critic Circles Awards.
These stories are just the tip of a very big iceberg. They are so commonplace that it's easy to see why newspaper editors have become immune to them. The stories of actors on drugs are nothing new, from Errol Flynn to Charlie Sheen, we have been enthralled and bemused in equal part by tales of successful entertainers living fast and falling on their faces.
Yet what is different today is not that drug taking seems to be the norm, but that the drugs being taken have evolved and are easier than ever to obtain. More importantly the moral stigma of being seen to be on drugs has been hugely diminished.
Hardly a month seems to go by without Lindsay Lohan eating up column inches for everything but her acting. Her troubled lifestyle was well highlighted even before she made a public drug confession on Oprah, claiming to take cocaine only because it allowed her to drink more. "Cocaine was a party thing. People would have it and I would do it," she said. "It went hand in hand with drinking."
Lohan's dad, Michael Lohan, claimed that her big problem is prescription pills. Drugs obtained from pharmacies have cropped up frequently in recent Hollywood drug stories, including the tragic death of Hoffman. It was a combination of prescription drugs that was the cause of the death of Brokeback Mountain star Heath Ledger.
The more lax attitude to prescription drugs can be seen in the reaction and news coverage being given to two tales vying for prizes at the Oscars. While Dallas Buyers Club about an HIV-positive man dealing medical drugs illegal in America is favourite to see its star Matthew McConaughey win the best actor prize, Martin Scorsese's Wolf of Wall Street – that details the drug culture prevalent in the finance sector – saw an American Academy member scream at the film-maker, "Shame on you" for his depiction of Jordan Belfort's hedonistic lifestyle.
Christina McDowell's open letter to Scorsese lambasts the director for glorifying the life of Belfort and her father Tom Prousalis. She writes, "And yet you're glorifying it – you who call yourselves liberals. You were honored for career excellence and for your cultural influence by the Kennedy Center, Marty. You drive a Honda hybrid, Leo. Did you think about the cultural message you'd be sending when you decided to make this film?" The barbs effectively ended talk of Leonardo DiCaprio winning best actor award.
It's possibly the first time that a portrayal of a drug dealer is being feted over that of a drug user by the American Academy. Yet despite the detractors Scorsese's film is remarkable in how it catches the zeitgeist in that for most people there is no longer a debate over the morality of taking drugs. Drug taking has become a fact of life, and it's true for bankers and lawyers as much as for film stars.
It's now become a story when someone feels the need to come out and say they don't do drugs, as DiCaprio himself recently did. What's not changed is the fact that some people cannot exercise self-control and end up destroying their own lives.
Some have expressed surprise that Hoffman, who seemed so calm and erudite in public was a drug addict, yet this shows an ignorance of how socially acceptable drug taking is in the film industry. While it would be ridiculous to say everyone is doing it – that's far from the truth – it's become so socially accepted that it's no surprise to hear about anyone who does.Reuse content