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Cory Monteith’s Death: It’s Time to End Addiction Stigma

Cory Monteith’s Death: It’s Time to End Addiction Stigma
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When it was announced that Glee star Cory Monteith had been found dead in a Vancouver hotel, fans around the world went into mourning, but Monteith’s death at just 31 has also provoked angry reactions that we are not doing enough to help people suffering from substance addictions.

Glee Actor’s Death Deemed a “Most Tragic Accident”

Monteith was found dead by staff at the Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel on Saturday after the actor failed to check out of his room. A police statement was swiftly issued that, though unable to reveal the precise cause of death, made it known the police suspected no foul play had been involved.

Rumors soon began circulating that drugs were a likely cause of Monteith’s death, as Monteith had only just completed a stint in rehab after voluntarily and with the support of his girlfriend, fellow Glee actor Lea Michele, seeking help in late March of this year for an alcohol and drug addiction — this a relapse of previous addiction problems that had plagued the actor as a teenager.

Those assumptions were proved correct this week when the British Columbia Coroners service issued the following statement regarding Monteith’s death:

Post-mortem testing, which included an autopsy and toxicological analysis, found that Mr. Monteith, aged 31, died of a mixed drug toxicity, involving heroin and alcohol. It should be noted that at this point there is no evidence to suggest Mr. Monteith’s death was anything other than a most-tragic accident.

Vancouver police have now said there is no compelling reason to continue an investigation into Monteith’s death, though there are conflicting opinions as to whether it would be viable to launch a probe into finding who Monteith’s supplier was.

Meanwhile, gleeks around the world continue to mourn, with a deluge of tributes from his co-stars including a very fitting impromptu song dedication from co-star Matthew Morrison, open displays of mourning at the hotel where Monteith died and a London Glee convention being turned into a kind of support group for devastated fans.

However, with the news having now had time to settle and the media meat grinder wanting to make the most out of this story, reports are starting to take on a different tone.

The least of them, NPR, has seen fit to remind us that Cory Monteith was not his Glee character Finn Hudson, the all American jock who evolved into a soulful and dependable small town guy, and though that fact may feel a little raw, it is worth the sting.

Monteith, by many everyday standards, had a tough adolescence. At just the age of 13, he had begun abusing drugs, by 16 he had left school and by 19, following an intervention from his friends and family, entered a drug rehabilitation center.

These details are widely available, Monteith had talked openly about his troubled past and are non-too lurid given the context of how Monteith died.

Yet few have dared actually talk about the true issue here: that heroin use is rising in popularity and that society at large is systematically failing to engage on the drug addiction issue.

There are some notable exceptions, however.

An NBC News article titled “Glee’ star’s OD shows the new, fresh face of heroin” hits the eye hard and pulls no punches in the copy either:

“I deal with drug users every day,” Dr. Richard Clark, an emergency room physician and director of toxicology at the University of California San Diego Medical Center, told NBC News. “The stereotypical user on the street? That’s the past as far as heroin use in the U.S. is concerned. Lots of people are using it these days – kids, teenagers, white-collar workers.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Marvin D. Seppala writes for CNN:

Every one of these deaths is tragic. They died of a disease that lies to them. Great talent and intelligence do not protect us from any illness.

We can safely watch such a tragedy, gawking as we drive by the destruction, insulated from the suffering and unable to help. But addiction is all around us and we need to respond to the rising death toll.

It is true that many in the medical community already class addiction as a disease, though it is also true that there may be compelling reasons to differentiate it as “disease-like,” but not truly fitting the disease model.

Next Page: The false choice of tough love versus enabling drug abuse.

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Image credit: Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer

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80 comments

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10:07PM PST on Jan 29, 2014

There are many people like Cory Monteith, who suffering badly due to their urge as not to give up their addiction habit, though it may not be that easier to hang your boots.i.e. a difficult task to get rid of addiction once for all & lead a sober life. But its not that tough too, one needs to have great determination to counter attack this problem.

11:51AM PDT on Oct 15, 2013

The sooner we get over our hangups and start to treat substance abuse as a medical problem to be treated rather than a crime to be punished, the better.

3:31PM PDT on Sep 5, 2013

Fighting addiction is hard. Its like trying to fight the urge to eat when you are starving. Its a hard disease to fight and the person has to want to be helped and has to work really hard to recover.

7:44PM PDT on Jul 22, 2013

Drugs take the best from you and leave the rest of you. Sad that family, friends, and intervention were still not enough at this time.

1:53AM PDT on Jul 22, 2013

Very sad.

10:11AM PDT on Jul 21, 2013

Cory Monteith chose to use drugs and alcohol at a very young age. He entered rehab and eventually found himself in the world of acting. I am not entirely sure he thought he was a great actor like the rest of his fans and costars on Glee. Cory was a human being with a troubled mind. Accidental death or not? He will be sadly missed for his charismatic, fun, loving persona. We all have choices we can make. No one will ever know whether Cory's untimely demise was intentional or not. Rehab is a mixed bag of detox the person of the toxins in their body. Rehab is the route to sobriety. I am left wondering if Cory only detoxed and did not have the opportunity for Rehab to deal with the route of his issues stemming from his youth. Rest in Peace Cory-you are sadly missed.

8:45AM PDT on Jul 21, 2013

Sad sad sad

6:08AM PDT on Jul 21, 2013

I feel so sorry about that ! It means that he was so sad, deep inside. R.I.P. Cory. Condolences to the family.

4:20AM PDT on Jul 21, 2013

He must have been pretty lonely. Sad very sad. God Bless him and his Family.

3:40AM PDT on Jul 21, 2013

Stupid is as Stupid does! Forest Gump Maybe he should have go a few Indulgences from the Pope on Twitter! Has anyone learn anything from this? Don't mix drugs and alcohol!

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