By: STEVEN GOODMAN – COLUMNIST, SOPHOMORE
Two weekends ago, when tragedy struck the Denver Broncos, it also hit the world of actors.
For those who haven’t heard, Philip Seymour Hoffman passed away. He was found dead in his New York City apartment, presumably from a heroin overdose. It seems in recent years many famous celebrities have been classified as drug addicts, many dying from the same affliction. A list of some of those celebrities includes Whitney Houston, Chris Farley, Heath Ledger and Cory Monteith, just to name a few.
On nearly all accounts, drug overdose has been labeled as accidental with the culprit typically being heroin, cocaine or, in the tragic case of Heath Ledger, prescription drugs. Although these drug-related deaths are typically called “accidents,” I cannot imagine overdosing on something as strong as heroin or cocaine would be that difficult.
By no means are celebrities the only people who fall to drug use or addiction. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2012 it was estimated that 23.9 million Americans had used an illicit drug or abused some form of medication. The difference between ordinary citizens who use drugs and celebrities who use drugs is that celebrity drug addiction seems to be almost glamorized.
Shows like “Intervention” and “Celebrity Rehab” take those who need help and let the entire world watch what should be a private family affair. Often times celebrities will appear on these shows for more than one season and there seems to be a revolving door at most rehab facilities for celebrities, like Hoffman, who relapsed after more than 20 years of being sober.
It’s a fairly common thing to hear a story about some celebrity taking drugs, checking into rehab, checking out of rehab or checking back into rehab.
The reasons for these problems are not usually revealed, or go back to some trauma the user encountered. A common theme for those watching these stories is to say that a certain celebrity was simply raised wrong.
If you pull up a list of drug-related deaths on Wikipedia, there are more than 300 names on that roster, and yes, alcohol is counted as a drug, although it shows up very few times. I simply refuse to believe so many people on this list were raised poorly.
Celebrity drug addiction, from what I can tell, is glamorized in some way. We love it enough to gossip about it and make shows around the pain of someone suffering.
By having TV shows that feature famous individuals going through drug rehab, we are saying it’s OK to go through this painstaking process.
In a way, that opens it up to ordinary people, where by looking at the numbers, it becomes apparent how serious of a problem drug addiction truly is.
So, maybe if we simply stop treating celebrity drug addiction as some source of entertainment and give them the real, private help they need, it could alleviate the much bigger drug problem that plagues our country.