I must admit I was very sad when I learned of Whitney Houston’s death last weekend. I only remember a few times in my life when celebrities died that I literally stopped for a moment and tried to absorb it, but her death was difficult to handle. Two other times I remember that were this riveting occurred when actor John Belushi and singer Michael Jackson died. I knew Whitney had suffered from problems with drug abuse, but I didn’t expect her to die this young.
Every time I see footage on her or read about the details, it also expands my sadness of a loss of unbelievable artistic talent; perhaps the most natural singing voice I have ever heard.
Last weekend after Whitney died, I was talking to my 11-year-old daughter about it, and she brought up that Adele was a smoker, which surprised me that she knew that. Then she came back with a few statistics about smoking and drug abuse that her D.A.R.E. program had taught her in school. She said, “Dad, you know, smoking causes all these different problems from your lungs, makes your teeth dark, etc.” She even had some exact statistics memorized on how many years smoking cuts off of a person’s life. I think she told me on the average, smoking reduces life expectancy by 14 years.
I used Whitney’s death to talk about the perils of drug use with her. I am not saying that was the cause of death in Whitney, but I am sure she has health issues related to the use of drug abuse.
I have reflected a lot about Whitney’s death. I think doctors need to be more responsible with the stars in handing out prescription medications. We can’t make it is as easy for them to continue their drug habits. Maybe the Hollywood studios and major record companies need to do more in regard to drug testing, just like Major League Baseball is doing to try to keep more of these people clean. The studios and record labels need to encourage the stars to seek rehab whenever they are noticeably struggling with problems due to drug abuse. For years, the stars have been able to get their hands on just about any drug they want so easily, and I think the studios and record labels have overlooked a lot of destructive behaviors.
Staying in a life of drug abuse is a personal choice, though. Ultimately, after rehab, a drug user has to decide is that what I want to be, or do I want a different type of life.
I can’t imagine being addicted to a drug and having to use it every day. Each day, I have to take several injections of insulin to survive because of diabetes, but if I didn’t have that worry, I would never be dependent on any type of drug. At least my drug is prescribed and for survival.
I also hope young people will realize the dangers of drug abuse and simply stay away. It’s not a bad thing to “just say no to drugs,” as used to be the slogan. Maybe that slogan needs to be reenforced more in our schools. I am thankful for the work of D.A.R.E. in all of our schools and hope people will support their education efforts. I can tell by the brief conversation I had with my daughter last weekend, their message is getting through and it is so important.
Last, I feel terrible for Whitney’s daughter and hope she can rise above this terrible tragedy. Let’s hope if anything, we can learn from the deaths of Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse and Whitney Houston, and try to stop this terrible spiral for these American stars and protect our young people from a similar tragedy as they grow into adulthood.