Among recovering addicts, the death of Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman from an apparent heroin overdose can be taken two ways, said Julie Wisdom-Wild, CEO of Alpha House, which offers residential and outpatient treatment for women and their families,

Wisdom-Wild said clients may think, "Why try to get sober if I may die like Hoffman?"

However, she said she believes he did not die in vain if others can learn from his death.

“It’s an eye-opener. It just takes you by the shoulders and shakes you and shakes you, and makes you see, 'That could have been me,'" she said.

Wisdom-Wild said she should know, having been free of her cocaine addiction 26 years and counting.

She said many don’t understand sobriety is a lifelong process.

“If you stop paying attention to triggers in your life or to people in your life who are not healthy for you to be around, relapse can happen,” Wisdom-Wild said.

She said addiction is like any chronic medical condition, where if you don’t continue to take care of yourself, you risk a relapse or even death.

However, Wisdom-Wild said despite overwhelming odds, by teaching addicts new sober ways of living, Alpha Home has an 86 percent success rate.

“We have to help them identify their strengths, what they’re good at, what they’re dreams are,” Wisdom-Wild said. “What did you want to be? We can help you get there.”

However, Wisdom-Wild said Alpha Home has seen a troubling trend among women.

She said more are starting out on prescription painkillers, then progress to stronger, illegal versions sold on the streets, and then finally opiates, including heroin.

Wisdom-Wild said heroin is the third leading drug of choice behind alcohol and cocaine.

She also said San Antonio’s proximity to Mexico doesn’t help, especially now that heroin is considered this generation’s party drug, much like cocaine was in the 1980s.

Wisdom-Wild said she encourages anyone with problems or concerns about drug or alcohol addiction to call 210-735-3822.

Early next month, the nonprofit will hold a midday fundraiser March 7 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Omni San Antonio Hotel. Information is available by emailing

For a list of recent stories Jessie Degollado has done, click here.