The now-sober actor is the favorite to take home the Best Actor Oscar at next month's Academy Awards ceremony, for his performance as legendary author Truman Capote.
The Talented Mr. Ripley star tells CBS show 60 Minutes, which airs on Sunday, about his descent into substance abuse following his graduation from New York University's drama school.
Hoffman says, "It was all that (drugs and alcohol). It was anything I could get my hands on... I liked it all.
"You get panicked...and I got panicked for my life."
The star decided he needed to change his ways and sought treatment for his problem.
He says, "I went (to rehab), I got sober when I was 22-years-old."
The actor is grateful that he didn't achieve fame until he had cleaned himself up.
He adds, "I have so much empathy for these young actors that are 19 and all of a sudden they're beautiful and famous and rich.
"I'm like, 'Oh my God, I'd be dead.'"
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