By Dr. Drew Pinsky
The sudden death of legendary pop star Whitney Houston at age 48 has shocked all of us. The world has truly lost one of its greatest singers.
But as we all know, her enormous talent has been overshadowed in recent years by her battles with drug addiction.
We obviously would be speaking out of school if we jumped to any conclusions regarding her death at this point. We're at the stage right now where we all should be celebrating her life.
However, it may end up that substance abuse had something to do with how her life ended. For me, it's a reminder that addiction is a fatal condition that has taken so many of our wonderful performers, and my deepest fear is that my peers who are involved with this matter will say she had some kind of pill on hand, which may turn the story to be something that we've been hearing about all too often these days.
Whitney was pronounced dead at the Beverly Hilton Hotel shortly after paramedics had arrived. When I heard the timeline, it struck me that this is something that must have been fruitless from the start.
Usually, somebody will be transported and the death will be pronounced at the hospital. But for paramedics to arrive and call it so soon suggests that when she was found she had been gone for quite some time.
I talked to medical professionals on Saturday, and they say that Whitney apparently had some good sobriety going - and she was quite serious about it. Now the other piece of this is that, apparently, she was in an outpatient program in May of last year ... that really caught my ear.
Someone who has chronic problems with substances, and has relapsed should not be in an outpatient program. This is somebody who struggled a long time - someone who needed to take six months, 12 months, or sometimes, like Robert Downey Jr., 24 months, out of their career and just focus on that.
So the fact that Whitney was in an outpatient program probably means that she did not partake in treatment that was intense enough for her.
And earlier this year, she was already back making a film. That’s a terrible sign for somebody like Whitney. My fear is that's really what contributed to what we're dealing with now.
Whenever we hear commentators talk about the stress of Hollywood, I want to point out that it's not any more stressful than being a construction worker, dentist, etc. There are much more stressful careers out there - believe me. But having treated many celebrities, the thing that really seems to be, in fact, stressful for them, is the threat of losing their status and losing their career.
I’m going to talk a lot more about that aspect on Monday night’s show - the pressure of the celebrity culture and those who enable the stars.
All in all, Whitney is somebody whose artistry has been with us for most of our lives. Every time we turn on the TV, we see images and videos of her, and the vibrancy of her youth - somebody who had such joy in her work. The fact that she had substance abuse problems later in her life should not cast a shadow over her great contribution to each of our lives.
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