2/12/12

Whitney Houston Prediction - Another Drug Death


I'll go ahead and make the assumption and prediction: Another celebrity with amazing talent, success and fame has died because of drug and alcohol addiction. The news of Whitney Houston's death has exploded through Social Media and traditional media outlets. Everyone is being very careful, and apparently respectful to report the causes of her death to be "unspecified" at this point. I'm going to take a leap here, and I'll take full responsibility for being wrong - if I am. Her death is related to drug and alcohol abuse.

Celebrities often become the focus of news and discussions about addiction. I don't even have to name them off, you can do that yourself. From Joplin to Jackson the list a very long and well know one. However, behind everyone of these celebrities is a raging sea of human causalities tossed aside.

Listen as you hear people talk about Whitney this week. There will be the politically correct response of "What a tragic loss. She had an amazing voice." There will be a mention of the bad Bobby Brown. Then we might hear the story turn more personal. We might hear our family and friends share about those they know and have lost to addiction.

I've spent over a decade of my life among and around addicts trying to recover. For every celebrity addict news mention I can personally name multiple men and women who have died from addition. Men and women who were bright, gifted, funny and intelligent. Addiction seems to like those types of people, likes to destroy them. It makes me furious that there is this cunning, baffling and deadly condition among us that destroys life - often in dramatic fashion. In some ways, I believe Whitney hardly had a chance.  The numbers alone were against her. According to some sources, addicts have (at best) a 30% recovery rate, and if we look at alcohol, that success rate drops to about 14%. Add to that equation some financial success  (so you don't run out of money) and fame (so people tend to tell you what you want to hear), and the odds against an addict finding recovery are low enough to make a Vegas bookie salivate.



I don't have the answer.  Some celebrities make it. According to a NewLifeRecovery article Bonnie Raitt and Eminem seem to have made recovery and stardom work. For the rest of us, the treatments are fairly well known: 12 steps programs, Outpatient therapy, Individual Therapy, Support Groups, etc. The biggest problem with an addict's success  in recovery is the addict. The addict has to want to learn how to live without mind and mood altering substances - continuously. The greatest success is when that addict seeks recovery within and stays connected with others who are seeking to recover.

The Grammys are tonight, and no doubt Whitney's death will flavor much of what is said. It is my hope that at least some of the chatter and sentiment will carry a message beyond the tragic loss of one amazing artist, and to the greater issue of addition in entertainment and our larger culture.

2 comments:

  1. I think most of us will make that prediction or at the very least, won't be surprised if/when that's the official ruling. I actually just read that the preliminary reports are that she drowned in the bathtub. But since she was currently on a prescription of Xanax, it circles back to the original prediction.

    All addiction is very sad and it angers me that people judge those with addiction. Until you've either stared it down yourself or had to stand next to someone with it, you can't possibly know how brutal addiction is and how little control people have over it.

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  2. It is always sad to hear of people who have been blessed with amazing gifts, whom you would think would be on top of the world, battling -- and in this case losing the fight with -- the inner demons that hunt (and haunt) us all.

    Maybe we assume too easily that brilliance in one area of life, or a cluster of such areas, must necessarily translate into brilliance at coping with "the thousand natural frets and shocks that flesh is heir to." Perhaps we are so dazzled by the talent that we forget to assist the gifted young in our midst in their effort to discover that there are life skills they'll need later on. Do we fail to discern -- much less articulate -- that extreme aptitude at anything is a warping of the balance we need in order to cope with life? And that people can grow in the areas that don't come easily to them, but they sometimes need help to do so?

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