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Kathy Willens, Associated Press
Hundreds of people gather for a candlelight vigil for actor Philip Seymour Hoffman in the courtyard of the Bank Street Theater, home of the Labyrinth Theater Company, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in New York. Hoffman died Sunday of a suspected drug overdose.

Philip Seymour Hoffman's heroin overdose death Sunday still has the Internet buzzing. Police raided a heroin den thought to be linked to his death Wednesday, while a conversation on the addiction percolated around the country.

The New York Post reported that four heroin dealers were arrested and 350 envelopes of what appeared to be heroin were seized, but those envelopes did not have the distinctive stamp found on those in Hoffman's apartment.

Among the most outspoken respondents is British actor Russell Brand, himself a recovering heroin addict who has been clean for the past 10 years.

A year ago, Brand wrote a moving essay in the Guardian explaining how, 10 years later, he still fights the pull of heroin. He understands why people have a hard time sympathizing with heroin addicts. Brand wrote: "I share a brain with one."

"I know exactly how Hoffman felt when he 'went back out,’ ” Brand writes in The Guardian on Thursday. "In spite of his life seeming superficially great, in spite of all the praise and accolades, in spite of all the loving friends and family, there is a predominant voice in the mind of an addict that supersedes all reason and that voice wants you dead. This voice is the unrelenting echo of an unfulfillable void."

Brand then fires both barrels at the drug laws that criminalized the addiction.

"If drugs are illegal, people who use drugs are criminals. We have set our moral compass on this erroneous premise, and we have strayed so far off course that the landscape we now inhabit provides us with no solutions and greatly increases the problem," Brand wrote.

"This is an important moment in history," he continued. "We know that prohibition does not work. We know that the people who devise drug laws are out of touch and have no idea how to reach a solution. Do they even have the inclination?"

At Bloomberg, Paul Barrett joined Brand in questioning the efficacy of the drug war approach to addiction: "With its vast demand generated in no small part by otherwise “respectable” members of society, the U.S. essentially invites the traffickers to import their damaging wares. … This, of course, raises the painful question of why we do not invest the same volume of dollars spent on drug cops in aggressive treatment programs, including mandatory treatment for those who break the law and/or can’t control themselves."

One reason heroin is coming into vogue, Fox News reports, is that prescription drugs are now harder to get. Fox cites Drug Enforcement Agency reports that more than 660,000 Americans used heroin in 2012.

“There are more constraints on prescription painkillers, so addicts will turn to heroin instead," addiction specialist Dr. Damon Raskin told Fox. "Pharmaceutical companies made drugs like Oxycontin more tamper-proof and more difficult to crush or snort. Also, doctors are catching on to patients who shop for painkillers with databases that can clue them into who the addicts are.”

Email: eschulzke@desnews.com