Hollywood drug abuse and news media


They say death comes in threes and, after the recent celebrity deaths of Cory Monteith and Paul Walker, the loss of Phillip Seymour Hoffman this past Sunday rounds out the long-believed superstition.

Out of the three high-profile deaths, two were from drug use and overdose. Walker’s was the only true accidental death, as it involved a fatal car accident where Walker wasn’t even the one behind the wheel. Yet the news media portrayed all three deaths as equally tragic.

There’s a difference between accidental tragedy and tragedy brought on by drugs, though. The news media posted articles that outlined the slew of drugs found in both Monteith and Hoffman’s bodies, but did little to comment on the root of the problem–the oft-hidden and personal struggle that comes along with drug abuse.

More and more stars are dying from drug related deaths these days and, often enough, these deaths come as a shock. Not many suspect that A-list Hollywood stars would fall victim to the same drugs that can be easily obtained by college students, people on the streets; quite frankly, anybody.  Moreover, they don’t suspect that these stars who seem so happy and well-off on the outside are coping with inner demons to turn to drugs in the first place.

Monteith serves as a prime example of the façade celebrities can put up to the public to seem happy: he had a loving, steady girlfriend in Lea Michele, his costar on the successful and still running TV show Glee, and remained an active member in his charity Project Limelight.  His death shocked many of the young fans of Glee, and should serve as a lesson to the impressionable youth that meddling with drugs, for whatever the reason, can result in an untimely and yes, tragic death.

Instead of merely listing the toxicology report of stars who die drug related deaths, the news media should focus on transforming the deaths into a wake-up call for how society deals with drug abuse and addiction. Both Monteith and Hoffman admitted in earlier interviews of struggling with addiction on and off from a very young age. Who knows how many young starlets there are right now who are secretly struggling with addition? What would be even more beneficial than an exposé on the dangers of drug use would be an open discussion of how to cope with addiction and insight into how to recover from the disease.

Kids are taught from a young age that “drugs are bad” yet it does not stop them, or high profile celebrities, from using them. For every story about a celeb in rehab, there should be another about stars speaking out against drug abuse, or doing charity work, or enjoying sober life. Society often looks up to the Hollywood elite and, if emphasis is placed on their healthy habits, or alternatively, their morph from addiction to a state of mental and physical well being, as is the case with Demi Lovato, perhaps many drug deaths can be prevented in the future.

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