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Drugs & Health Blog

In Memoriam: Lost to Addiction and Mental Illness

This blog post is archived and is no longer being updated. For the latest content, please visit the main Drugs & Health Blog page.
The NIDA Blog Team

As 2014 comes to a close, we’d like to remember the following actors and musicians whom we lost to drug addiction or related mental illness this past year. 

Philip Seymour Hoffman—Widely considered one of the best dramatic actors of all time, Hoffman was found dead in his New York apartment on February 2 from a heroin overdose. The 46-year-old Academy Award-winning actor was in recovery from substance abuse for 23 years before relapsing. He was known for his roles in The Hunger Games, Almost Famous, Moneyball, The Big Lebowski, and Twister. He is survived by a son and two daughters.

Peaches Geldof—Geldof was a British model, journalist, and television host. She died April 7 of a heroin overdose at the age of 25. She is survived by her husband and two small children. When Geldof was 11 years old, her mother died of a heroin overdose.

DJ Rashad—Rashad Harden, known as DJ Rashad, was a Chicago-based electronic musician, producer, and DJ. Harden died of an accidental drug overdose on April 26 at the age of 34. Heroin, cocaine, and alprazolam were found in his system. He leaves behind a young son.

Robin Williams—Williams, a beloved comedic and dramatic actor, died by suicide in his home on August 11. Alcohol and illegal drugs were not involved, according to the statement from the coroner’s office.  Williams had a well-publicized addiction to cocaine and alcohol in the 1980s, and although he experienced periods of relapse, he was able to remain off of drugs and alcohol most of the time since he entered recovery. He was, however, struggling with depression, anxiety, and the early stages of Parkinson’s disease when he died. He was 63 years old and is survived by his wife and three children. 

Tyson Stevens—Stevens, the lead singer of Scary Kids Scaring Kids, died October 20 from an apparent heroin overdose. He was 29.

Ryan Knight—Knight, a former cast member of MTV’s The Real World: New Orleans and The Challenge, was found dead on Thanksgiving 2014. The immediate cause of death is not yet known at this time, but he had a history of addiction to alcohol and pain opioid medications. Friends report he had been “partying” the night before his death. He was 28.

These were people many of us admired and felt like we knew. But thousands more died who were only known to their family, friends, and community. Share with us in the comments someone you are remembering who may have passed from drug use or mental illness in 2014.

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


It's crazy to think that if they weren't addicted or didn't have a mental illness, they would be alive, smiling, right now
I well myself is addicted to adderal xanax
It hurts my heart to know that these people were in so much anguish they couldn’t continue to live. Suicide has claimed too many people I’ve known. As I’ve grown older I’ve met parents of those who’ve taken their own lives; those parents’ hearts will never heal. Those who died aren’t cowards as so many suggest. They’ve probably been engaged in a lifelong struggle with depression. In some cases the patients eventually succumb to despair. Don’t assume that they were weak. Most have put up a long, brave fight. I’ve experienced extreme pain in my life, both physical and emotional. Emotional pain is no easier to bear...and it’s harder to forget.