Houston, we have a problem

I’m just gonna say this without beating around the bush. Whitney Houston dying doesn’t make me sad, doesn’t seem tragic to me…it just pisses me off.

Seriously…no one wants to remember her like the picture above, but this, very likely, is what killed her.  Drugs.

I talked with my mother this afternoon and she said, “Isn’t it sad about Whitney?”

I said, “No, I just think she’s a damned idiot.”

When she asked why, I told her that I was getting more and more disgusted with the Michael Jackson’s and Corey Haim’s and Amy Winehouse’s and Whitney Houston’s of the world.  People with an unbelievable amount of God-given talent and they simply piss it away.

My mother then berated me for having no compassion for addicts.  She’s right.  I don’t.

Yes, I understand being a celebrity is no picnic.  Yes, I understand that once you’re hooked on a drug, it becomes hard to kick that habit.

On the other hand, these are people that are catered to, fawned over, and worshipped.  And they also have the time, money and resources to get all the help they need, over and over and over again, if they need it.

Instead, they choose to get into harmful relationships with other people, or with substances.

And then, inevitably, they die.

And then, somehow, we canonize them as though they are gods.

Though I truly didn’t like his music, anyone could see Michael Jackson was as talented as they come.  Brilliant.  But unbelievably troubled.  Mentally, he didn’t seem much beyond a ten-year-old when it came to social interaction.  He obviously had body image issues.  And, true or not, no one can deny he put himself in the path of molestation lawsuits more than once.  Innocent or guilty, he wasn’t smart about his choices.

And all of that gets swept aside when he dies.  If he’d released an album six months before he died, would anyone have bought it?  Would anyone have cared?  Once he died, he suddenly was awarded a posthumous “King of Pop” tag that he rightfully lost years before.  All his evils, his quirks and his transgressions were forgotten.

Just watch.  It’s going to be the same with Whitney.  For someone who literally had it all, beauty, singing talent, the adoration of millions, she pissed it all away in the last ten years.  Yes, she was making a comeback album (you just watch all the stars line up to help finish that off and get it released while it’s hot), and yes, she released an album in 2009 that did okay, but really, when was the last year Whitney was actually relevant and at the top of her game?  Back in the 90s?

So is it tragic that she died?  I’m sorry, I’m going to be the unpopular one here and say no.  It was inevitable, because she obviously couldn’t shake that monkey off her back.  Hope Bobby Brown’s happy, he helped birth that monkey.

But really, with all the “little people” out there…you know, the ones who have to hold down a day job, maybe raise their kids and somehow beat some horrible addiction as well…there’s lots of them that do it.

Do we ever get star-studded tributes to their accomplishments?  No.  They get to pick up whatever pieces of their life still remain and get back to the task of living.  Often it’s just their family and some close friends that know the struggles they went through.

And there’s likely thousands…probably hundreds of thousands…that lose that same race that Whitney just lost.  Where’s the gala memorials celebrating their lives after they die?  Where’s the stars lining up to sing their praises and help finish whatever unfinished business they have?  Instead, it just comes down to those who stuck by them to remember them and try and understand what the hell went wrong.

I write this not to bury Whitney, nor to praise her, nor to mourn her.

I write this because I know she’s going to be turned into some sort of hero, maybe the Queen of Pop or some damn thing.  When we should be using that energy, that pain, that concern for those who still need it.

Dying because you abused substances isn’t sexy.  It isn’t cool.  It isn’t even tragic.  It’s just fucking stupid.

We need to stop making junkies into heroes.

72 thoughts on “Houston, we have a problem

  1. Well put.

    It never ceases to amaze me why our culture make it “cool” to willfully abandon one’s faculties – the number of times we here people bragging about how wasted they got on the weekend – it’s as though they actually think they accomplished something.

    What’s strange is that I feel like the author here even though when my only brother, also a musician and hooked on heroin, hanged himself in jail rather than face life. I could never get over the feeling that he felt he was more “special” than the rest of us that worked our asses off, got a boring day job for years on end put up with life in all its mundane glory.

    It’s always the “little people” that have to scrape up the crap left behind by these sad, self absorbed losers.

    • Thank you, Theo. I’ve got a brother who’s always been treated as “special” as well because of his addiction. He isn’t a musician, it was actually his addiction that he allowed to define him.

      This is why my mother says I have no empathy for addicts. It’s because I have no empathy for him. Good for you, Theo, that you choose to work your ass off in the boring day job. At least you’re still around to enjoy life in all its mundane glory.

      I salute you!

      • Problem with him was that I had no idea things had gotten so bad – I thought he was just another under achieving generic loser, so was surprised to find out what he did.

        I still feel strongly that he is completely at fault, and that in the end, we all get what we deserve.

        But, if there was some way I coud have reached out without feeling exploited, yet again, and possibly endangering my own young kids, I would have – the problem is that he used everyone so completely, that when it came to to help him, his emotional credit was all used spent, and any further assistance felt like enabling him.

        If you can somehow kick your brother’s ass, and avoid being exploited so that you can help him without enabling and furthering the rut he is in, then you should – it’s a lot of emotional baggage to carry if he does what my brother did.

        You owe it yourself to have a clean conscience – and it will spare you a lot of late nights wondering.

        Good luck,


      • I’m almost 50, Theo. My brother is 58 (the same age my father was when he died due to alcoholism). From the time I was about 10 until I was 35…so a solid quarter of a century, I did everything I could to support him, cajole him, tough love him, ignore him, fight him, care for him, and yes, help him. As you said, “the problem is that he used everyone so completely, that when it came time to help him, his emotional credit was all used, spent, and any further assistance felt like enabling him.” You couldn’t have described it better. That was my circumstance.

        And when I began to feel exploited, yet again, and he DID endanger my two young kids, I chose to completely divorce him from my life.

        Best decision I ever made.

      • I too have a brother who is an avid drug abuser, and a mom who likes to blame everything and everyone one but him for his drug addiction, I love my brother but I have come to learn you CANNOT HELP SOMEONE WHO DOESN’T WANT TO HELP THEMSELVES. He has been to rehab more times than a few. He would rather be high than deal with what the rest of us deal with everyday its called life. Whitney said it herself she was her worst enemy. I dont know if I have empathy for drug users but I do feel for them because their lives are passing them by and will enevitily end to soon…

      • Good luck to you, Lady T. That’s a tough one. It can rip a family apart…it sure did with mine. I think the thing that ultimately saved me is to realize a couple of things.
        1 – I couldn’t control his addiction
        2 – I couldn’t get him help if he didn’t want it
        3 – I couldn’t stop him from relapsing
        4 – I couldn’t control how others react to it
        5 – I could only control myself
        And that’s when I let him go. He hates me for it. My mother hates that I’ve done it (she says I’m just being “stupid and stubborn”), but it was the only decision that was left up to me, and it’s the one that’s made my life much easier.

        Thanks for stopping by, Lady T. I appreciate it.

    • February 14, 2012

      I don’t agree with what is written in the title “ Houston we have a problem “.
      Nobady idolises Houston for her drug addiction ,people remmember the great singer she was, I don’t think that people agree with her use of drugs. Don’t be quick to judge unless you ‘ve been in the same situation she was in ,it’s easy to point fingers

  2. I agree with you, Tobin. I don’t have a lot of sympathy for addicts, either. I do understand that it’s hard to kick an addiction, what I don’t understand is why you would start in the first place. Because it’s cool? Because it’s glamorous? Well, maybe that is the message society is sending.

    Celebrities have been dying of self-inflicted doses of drugs and alcohol since at least 1953 when Hank Williams did himself in in the back seat of a Cadillac. In 1962 it was Marilyn Monroe, then Elvis in 1977. The pace has picked up considerably since then. Every damn time they’re posthumously canonized. It’s not tragic. They do it to themselves. They have the money to get anything they want or need, but choose to piss it away. Then they become role models for our children. Nice.

    • @ Lisa Llamerei ,
      your judgement is too simplistic. You should have sympathy for addicts same as you would for a sick person, because addiction to alcohool ,drugs or pills is a disease, a mental one still it’s the same thing as a physical desease.

      You said you don’t understand why people start in the first place, well you should understand that succes , HUGE fame CAN bring a lot of pressure ON SOMEBODY,remmember MICHAEL jACKSON was just a normal black kid until he starts selling millions of album . There is no escuse for such behaviour like addiction but , il is not always easy to cope with so much succes those who have been there will confirm this. Again let me emphasize on the fact that WHITNEY HOUSTON was loved because of her singing abilities,people will always miss that brilliant singer ,that she was not the drug addict that she later became.

      • Kazembe, scroll a little further down the comments. Read what Colin has to say about addicts. Yes, Whitney was a brilliant singer, nobody’s disagreeing with that.

        Seriously, read Colin’s remarks. He’s right on the money.

      • Yes, people have different responses to addiction. The difference is that starting an addiction is a choice. Cancer, diabetes or kidney disease are not choices. Yes, celebrities are under enormous pressure, but there is more than one way to deal with pressure. They could take up meditation or yoga. They could make a point of taking short breaks away from the limelight on a regular basis. They don’t have to choose getting high just because it’s available and they can afford it. Someone else here said that people don’t understand what the long-term effects of addiction are when they get started. Not true. We all know. My 14-year-old knows the end result of an addiction that goes unchecked. And we don’t have addicts in the family, so she didn’t learn it from direct experience. The problem is people think “oh, that won’t happen to me. I’m stronger than that, I won’t get addicted”. Or they choose to ignore what they know to be true because “It can’t really be THAT bad.” And you can say that celebrities have people around them reinforcing that belief and you might be right. But, we are all responsible for the choices we make, in spite of what people around us are doing. And we DO know what could happen.

    • Hi Lisa,

      I can assure you categorically that “starting” an addiction ISN’T a choice. Starting the behaviour is, yes, ie drinking/smoking/taking drugs. This isn’t the same as “starting” an addiction though. I don’t believe that a single alcoholic took their first drink with the notion that they would end up as an alcoholic. I never met a single addict who was happy as an addict, or who had made a conscious decision that they wanted to be an addict.

      That said, though, I like what you said about everyone being responsible for the choices they make. The problem with most active addicts is a complete lack of responsibility for self, and the belief that somehow somebody else got them into the mess they’re in! It’s only when these ideas are shattered that recovery can begin. It’s a bit of a rude awakeining, I can tell you! 🙂

      • Oh dude, I totally hope that was directed at me. That’s easily the best comment I’ve ever gotten on this blog. You’re hilarious! And I’m a bag of pus!


  3. Oh trust me, all these names and more…Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain…all of them went through my brain as I wrote this.

    Maybe that’s why, when someone like Lennon–who had his own issues with heroin, booze and other drugs, but managed to clean up–gets cut down just when he’s finally at peace with himself…maybe that’s why it feels like such a tragedy.

  4. Addiction is a disease. Yes – the addict originally chose it, chose to put something in their mouth or up their nose or in their arm, but I don’t think it was with a clear site of the devastation down the road. If you said, “Here – hold this orb in your hand – you’ll lose everything important to you, your family, friends, job, house, self-respect, sex drive, desire to eat, motivation to live…but here, hold it.” Most people would take off running – including addicts. But it isn’t as clear cut as that. Not many people wake up one day, eat a bran muffin, walk the dog, then find a crack pipe on the ground and smoke it out of the blue. I’m not excusing it – but it’s a disease starts looking a lot less like hell than what the end result is.

    It is indeed sad that Whitney Houston, the addict, died. It’s a life wasted, a mother dead. Did she have more resources to fix it – yes she did. But would she have sold her own body to feed her disease if the money ran out? That’s probably a yes too. Money and fame might make it easier to get better, but it sure would make it easier to get access to your drug of choice and have a lot more people willing to give it to you.

    I feel the same sadness for Whitney that I felt for the man who died of an overdose downtown Barrie. I understand your anger towards it Tobin – and I agree, we do need to stop making junkies our heroes. I would say the same though about sport figures that don’t defend children or movie stars that beat their wives. If I’m angry it’s about media hype and how society puts fame above everything else.

      • I disagree. Addiction is no disease. The propensity to become addicted may vary among us, and some of us may be more likely to become addicted, but that doesn’t make it a disease. That makes it a vulnerability that is exploited when we make the wrong choices, just like some of us are more likely to get fat if we eat too much because of a slower metabolism. Is being fat a disease like cancer or alzheimer’s? Of course not. Neither is being addicted.

        The reason addiction has been (wrongly) defined by mental health professionals as a disease is money. If you define something as a disease you can get other people to pay for the problem – such as government or insurance companies.

  5. Getting into an addiction isn’t often a choice. Some people are more susceptible than others, too. Addictions are subtle and complex, they’re evil, they insinuate themselves into one’s very DNA. They deconstruct souls.

    But, I believe that getting out of an addiction *is* a choice. Most addicts are at least aware of the problem, and denial is not accidental. Move past denial into help-seeking, and there’s hope.

    I have complete sympathy and respect for those who seek help to unravel the hold their addictions have over them. In fact, I have few warm feelings for my own Dad (for a lot of reasons), but I do respect the fact that after twenty-odd years of smoking and drinking, one day he simply quit, and he never went back to it.

    We live in a day and age when there are alternatives to addictions. And my heart goes out to those courageous few who seek out counseling (AA, group counseling, psychotherapy), and non-addictive alternatives that help to kick the habit (Nicoderm, Methadone).

    And people volunteer their time to work in potentially hazardous situations to help addicts. But those who die from self-pity are a slap in the face to those who spend their lives reaching out to addicts.

    And like you, I’m against the sanctification of the celebrity dead. How many people who say “Oh, so sad” wondered how Whitney was doing last week, or last month? False compassion is quickly going out of fashion. I hope.

    • Is addiction a choice?

      Is it the inevitable outcome of a particular choice of action?

      Does anyone not realize when a particular substance they consume is increasingly addictive as they take more of it on a more regular basis?

      How can any of this be a surprise to people?

      In life, accepting the accumulated risk of something is the same as choosing the outcome of it. (I call it karmic algebra.)

      The problem is pride – some people think they are among the chosen ones, innately greater or more “special” than others, and that [God,the universe, karma,or the FSM] likes them more than the poor schmuck next to them.

      If they can avoid despair once they are humbled, they might have a chance.

      Otherwise the universe will deal appropriately with those that blaspheme against it.


      • Good point, Theo. I think everyone enters into something potentially addictive with the “I’m smarter than that” attitude. If it begins to get worse, they then adopt the “I can stop whenever I want…I just don’t want to right now” mantra.

      • Hi Theo,

        I agree with most of what you say here.

        The problem is, there are no set boundaries within addiction. There’s no mediacally defined point in an addict’s “career” where they cease being a user and cross over into addiction.

        For me, I really cannot pinpoint where in my life I made the transition from social drinker to binge drinker, then from binge drinker to heavy drinker, then from heavy drinker to problem drinker, then from problem drinker to alcoholic. It’s not possible to quantify alcoholism, it’s determinned by the impact that drinking has on the drinker’s life, which only the drinker is placed to assess. This whole process took me 13 years, time enough to do some serious damage! This is why I do not believe that addiction is a choice, or an inevitable result of taking that first ever drink (which IS a choice). My point here is that by the time the addict has had that realisation, it’s often too late. I DO believe, however, that recovery IS a choice!

        I do believe strongly in Karma Philosoph. This applies to non addicts too, though, so people who show contempt for addicts are sure to have that behaviour reciprocated at some point in their lives, by whoever the universe so chooses to deliver that lesson! And as for plaspheming against the universe, there are many ways in which we, as a society, do that: Lust, anger, greed, attachment, ego! These aren’t exclusive to addicts and YES, the universe will DEAL with those who blaspheme against it. I couldn’t agree more.

        I agree with your comment about pride, too. The paradox is that a lot of addicts are victims of their own pride, and is why they do not seek help.

        Colin. 🙂

  6. I agree with absolutely everything you said Tobes and am thankful there is at least one man out there not afraid to stand up to the bleeding hearts club. I really like that you use the phrase ‘God given talent’ also. Talent IS a gift and as such it comes with a responsibility in conduct and behaviour.

  7. Wow, you sound so ignorant, ill informed, uneducated and biased in this little blurb of yours. Hey hows about growing a spine and making your own way in the world so maybe you can get a little insight about the world an the people in it. Your mom sounds like a pretty smart lady, you should listen to her, obviously you never have before or you wouldn’t have ended up so confused about the world.
    -Just saying

    • Thanks for stopping by Semblance. I was honestly shocked that no one was attacking me. I feel better now.

      I’m not ignorant to addiction, having grown up with an alcoholic father, alcoholic aunts and uncles on my father’s side, and a brother who’s addicted to damn near anything prescription, non-prescription, legal, illegal and, quite frankly, possibly sex as well. So, no, not ignorant or ill-informed or uneducated. Biased? Hell yes.

      As for growing a spine and making my own way in the world…um, where in this blog did you get a sense of me NOT making my way in the world? I’ve worked every day but two of my life from the time I was 18 and, since I was 21 I’ve always held down two jobs? Why? Because I lost one job and went two days without a job. Swore that would never happen again. And it hasn’t. So, yeah 31 years of making my own way in the world (that means I’m 49, in case your math is as dreadful as some of your grammar).

      My mom is a smart lady. But she’s also blind to addiction has been an enabler for my brother for his entire life. Hasn’t done anything for her but cause her pain and financial hardship.

      So, yeah, sorry I’m confused about the world. I’ll try and worship those who die with a needle in their arm, leaving their kids behind to wonder why, as heroes. Would that make me less confused about the world?

      How about you ask Whitney’s kids? Or Michael’s. Or Anna Nicole Smith’s…or all the others who have their rich parent’s money, but not their presence because a chemical was more important to them than their kids or their life.

      Just saying.

    • Semblance…Wow…”ignorant, ill informed, uneducated and biased”. YOU certainly are…

      You have obviously never dealt with addicts or you’re an addict yourself. I’m guessing the later because you are basically defending addiction, or sorry maybe that is sympathy for addicts. If you are an addict and clean yourself up, I have nothing but respect for that, but if you want to throw your life away then there is no way you will get sympathy from me.

      Oh and by the way…as for his mother being smart…don’t make me laugh, I know her and the effect she has had on people…smart is definitely not the definition I’d use for her.

  8. Well put Tobin. Being one of those people that was stupid enough to have married an addict (divorced now thank God)….I am in agreement with you. Poor, poor addicts….they are so misunderstood and mistreated. Bullshit! They like drugs. They like the drama. They like hurting themselves. With all the help my ex had available to him, he still chose drugs over his family….his son. Stupid fucker. Ten years later, he’s still using. I have no sympathy for him. They suck all compassion and love from you. I wish he was dead. One less bottom feeder the better. (Sorry if I’ve affended anyone….no I’m not).

    • You can always tell the ones that have been “up close and personal” with an addict can’t you? The sympathy has been blown away by the crap we put up with.

      Don’t know if I’d ever wish someone dead, but I get where you’re coming from, cuz.

  9. I dont think no one should judge the super star people should Stop the bs she had a wonderful voice a gift that god Give to her let her rest in piece

    • Wow Beverly…just…wow. “no one should judge the super star” Really? We should just let them run wild? We shouldn’t judge Bobby Brown? We shouldn’t judge CHRIS Brown?

      Please. Stop the BS is right.

      • You shouldn’t be juding anybody! “Judge not, lest ye be judged” Who are you? Are you perfect? You are probably the “fan” at a sporting event that boos his extraordinary home team if they have an off game.

  10. I don’t agree with you at all. I believe all people deserve compassion and respect, no matter what their station in life is. Addiction is one of the worst disease there is and anyone who falls victim to it is doomed, whether they survive it or not. The drugs keep them in denial. Rehab rarely works, even for the strongest of souls. Would you judge a person who dies from skin cancer as a result of sunbathing for many years because they didn’t listen to repeated warnings of the dangers of the sun?

    • You’re right, addiction is a disease. I wouldn’t go so far as to say anyone that falls victim to it is doomed, anymore than I’d say someone with cancer is doomed. Many don’t make it, some do.

      Here’s the difference…Cancer (or any other disease) doesn’t make you forget your family. It doesn’t make you lie and cheat and steal and not give a rat’s ass about yourself or those around you. Addiction does. Read my answers to other commenters. I know what I’m talking about.

      And I never said I was judging Whitney. I said her death pisses me off because of what she had and what she let go. I said it pisses me off that others WILL judge her…and make her the hero in death she wasn’t in life.

      I said we have to stop making heroes out of junkies. That’s what I said.

      I’m sure Whitney was a lovely human being. I’m sure she did a lot of good things in her life. But she made some really stupid calls in the last dozen years. If that’s judging, then okay, I’m judging.

      And in your other note above, where you say…

      “‘Judge not, lest ye be judged’ Who are you? Are you perfect? You are probably the “fan” at a sporting event that boos his extraordinary home team if they have an off game.”

      Who am I? Am I perfect? Christ no. Never claimed to be. I’ve made some really stupid moves in my life too, things I wish I could have a do-over on, We all do. That’s part of being human.

      But I’ve also learned from every one of those mistakes and I don’t repeat them. And you know what? I’m probably an addict too. My brother is. My dad was. All his brothers and sisters were…so chances are damn high that I am too. But I don’t know for sure…want to know why? Because I never ever drank. I never ever did drugs. Because I saw what they did to others. Don’t believe me…ask my wife who’s responded on this forum. Ask my cousin, who’s dealt with an addicted husband. Ask my friends.

      And no, I’m not the fan that boos a sports team…I hate sports. I am, however, the guy that yells at all the morons I see on TV doing stupid things. I am the one who writes about morons in this blog.

      So maybe I do judge.

      Maybe I’ve seen enough good and bad to understand the difference. Is it good to judge? Dunno. Probably not.

      Is it who I am? Yeah it is. I don’t ask you to accept me or like me…lots of people don’t. Don’t care. The ones that like me for who I am, they’re my friends. The rest? Screw them.

      I’m sure Whitney felt the same. Difference is, I’m the same age as her, and I’m on the right side of the dirt. Who made the better choices?

      • Ever notice the dialectic in these discussions? if you take the position you do (which I agree with – my biological mother was a lifelong H addict who lived her life like a feral cat and would rip off anyone to make the next score), you’re labeled as a “judger”. But guess what? “Judging” goes both ways. The people who are so willing to give addicts a pass under the pretext of compassion are just doing the same thing from the opposite end of the telescope. I’m willing to grant that some people have a combination of genetic and physical predispositions to chemical addiction. I’m probably one of them, in fact. There have been plenty of mornings in my life when I know I should have left that last glass of wine in the bottle, you know? But I don’t think of it as a disease like cancer or a physical condition like nearsightedness. There’s a volitional element and a set of behaviors that make the process of chemical addiction what it is.

        I guess what I’m trying to say is that I can feel compassion for people’s suffering but that in no way vitiates their own accountability. If people make dumb choices, they get the results they ought to expect. I waste no pity on them. Myself first of all.

      • Thank you vanya. And thank you for also being so eloquent. It’s a rare commodity in the blogging world, where I’m more often referred to as a “fucking idoit”…funny how they can always spell the f-bomb correctly.

        I completely agree with you, those that tell me I’m judging are judging me as well. I think you and I (and a few of the other posters) that have had first-hand experience with addicted loved ones are a little more hardened than those that can’t see anything except the golden-voiced beautiful goddess. You and I know the cutting swath of pain she left amongst her loved ones.

        I’m sure they’re all deeply saddened that she’s gone at such an early age, but I also bet, deep down, they’re relieved that she’s no longer in pain and can’t cause them any more hurt. I think if you’ve got it right: compassion for others, watch out for yourself.

        Thanks for stopping by. I truly appreciate it.

  11. I understand your thoughts on this matter, and agree with many of your points. I the same thing going on in my family. The one thing I’d like to say is that Whitney, like the others got into this entertainment life at a very young age, and drugs and alcohol may be a little more available in this industry than for most people (an excuse, yes lol) …that being said, I think the common problem regardless of the socio-economic status is that at some point family and friends try to help, some become enablers/codependent, some are alienated from the addict, or decide to alienate themselves from the addict. You feel like a yo-yo with all the drama, cry for attention (boils down to selfishness) It’s like…we start ignoring the elephant in the room, try to make sense out of nonsense…and the addict will try to run you around in circles, or try to get angry, it becomes exhausting…Anyway, I think she has paid the price, her family has to deal with the loss, and decided to enjoy the music she has made. What I am going to do is talk to that elephant in my family room at some point. thanks for letting me participate in the discussion.

    • Btw, there are soo many stars, atheletes, and regular joes who are dealing with drug (illegal/prescription) and alcohol currently…and one high from passing away like Whitney, Jeff Conaway, Mike Starr, Michael Jackson, Anna Nicole, Elvis, etc. have done.

  12. Wow…got to say I’m surprised by this sting of comments. Don’t really understand the anger.

    I am saddened by Whitney’s passing mainly because she brought a tremendous amount of joy to a lot of people. As she said in one interview, when she first came on the scene 30 years ago she immediately had a hit single, a movie, married, and had a child. All in a relatively short period of time…and all things that can be overwhelming to anyone, regardless if they are a normal Joe or a star. At the end of the interview she said that she was really tired. It had been a great life, but she didn’t know how to slow down when people around her asked “what’s next?” There is a lot of pressure to keep delivering, especially when the media is scrutinizing her every move. Night after night entertainers put themselves in a very vulnerable spot onstage and as the pressure builds and the fame grows, their insecurity intensifies. Inner demons set up shop. It seems obvious why some look for release from the pressure.

    Sure, it may not be right. It pisses people off, especially when the performers are being fawned over and celebrated as gods. How dare they not seek help when they have the resources, etc. All I can say is performers give everything they have to their audience. Yes, that’s not our fault and if they think it’s too much pressure than they should get a day job like the rest of us, but sometimes the dye is cast. No one was ever going to leave her alone after she became a star. At 21, do any of us really know what that means to be a megastar and how it will affect your future? I wish life would have played out differently for her, but I’m going to give her some slack.

    Hey Tobin, I do like the name of your post. Why didn’t someone in the media steal that one!

  13. The demise at an early age of any human is a tragedy. Life is so short. Superstars live their life in public and we sit back and judge. But our lives and mistakes are lived in private and are not up for public display. This is no excuse but show some COMPASSION, especially for family members left behind to pick up the pieces. It’s hard to lose a mother, whether she’s an addict or not. And we don’t know Whitney’s struggles or anyone elses. We don’t know if she was trying to turn it around or not, but that’s not our place. Her struggle is over! Let her family grieve and move on, because no matter what is written or said Whitney is done with this life and her shortcomings. Forgive and move on. God himself doesn’t emphasize our transgressions!

    • You’re right April. I do have compassion and empathy for those left behind. My father did it to me. I know what it feels like.

      But for Whitney? Maybe she was trying to turn her life around. I hope she was. I know her family tried to help her, her mother staged an intervention. But nope, really can’t find it in me to have any compassion for her.

      Thanks for stopping by.

    • Praise her talent? Of course! Just like Elvis and Janis and Jimi and Kurt…and all the others that left some great movies and music behind. They made us laugh and cry.

      Of course I praise their talent.

      But they aren’t heroes. Don’t make them out to be.

      If they were, they would have lived a lot longer and likely made us laugh and cry even more because they would have continued to do what they do best, instead of die with a bloodstream full of chemicals.

  14. Hi everyone.

    Just though I’d stop by and chip in my quid’s worth. I’ve read your piece, Tobin, as well as all of the comment, and have been taken through pretty much the whole spectrum of feelings and emotions. So many valid points raised and some good arguments put forward.
    I’d like to state that on offering my opinion, I do not wish to complain about, criticize or insult anyone else, these are JUST my opinions.
    I, myself, had a journey through addiction, and am a number of years sober now. It’s with the mental clarity and the recovery I have under my belt now that I am able to look back and see with the eyes of reason what actually happened, and what compelled me to do some of the things that I did. Addicts, by their own admission (well, the honest ones anyway) are VERY selfish people. I include myself in that absolutely! Unfortunately though, it’s not as easy as waking up one day and deciding that you’re not going to be a selfish person anymore. It takes sincere effort over a period of time, and love and support from those around you, to be able to change.
    Addiction is a tricky one to explain. Unless you’re an addict you just cannot understand. YES, ingesting substances is done by the addict but the mental compulsion to do so cancels out any reason or logic that a non addict might have. Towards the end of my addiction, I was drinking 6 bottles of red wine per day, because it had got to the point where my body would go into serious convulsions if I didn’t take alcohol, and so I was also driven by the morbid fear of these convulsions becoming worse, amongst other things. I always say that addicts didn’t get the instruction book of life when they were born, as others do. But that’s just me joking around!? I fully acknowledge that I DID ALL OF THIS TO MYSELF! It was only when the fear of drinking became greater than the fear of NOT drinking, that I reached out and took advantage of the help that is available.
    Tobin, I agree with you ENTIRELY about not canonising dead celebrities. I think I find it just as vulgar as you do. The media are fickle, but so are humans in general. We permit this by responding to it in the way that society does. I heard about Whitney on Sunday morning, got in the car and drove to my mother’s house and every radio station was playing her music. When I arrived at my mother’s, every TV station was airing one of her music videos. Whitney, like Amy, had been left to die of her addiction, written off by the media, the public, and the music industry. WHY all of a sudden, after their deaths, are they catapulted back into the spotlight? It’s shallow, and frankly, pathetic. Whitney is now the Queen of Pop?? Hmmmm, I thought that was Madonna?? If Madonna (God forbid) dies next week, I’m sure SHE will rightfully be the Queen of Pop again.
    It’s my personal belief that ALL human beings, even addicts, deserve to be treated with kindness, compassion, and respect, REGARDLESS of what they have done. If I hadn’t experienced this in my time of need then I wouldn’t have got sober and I would almost certainly be dead now. Instead, I have a job, a home, friends, a family, and most of the time I’m happy. Perhaps even more importantly that that though, I’m able to help other addicts, not by preaching to them or disapproving of them, but by being an example of the fact that an addiction CAN be kicked. I hope that doesn’t make me sound TOO self righteous!?
    As an active addict, I didn’t want compassion, though. I just wanted everyone to get the f*uck out of my way so that I could get on with the task of killing myself slowly in peace and quiet. There were those around me who tried in vain for years to help me but let’s get one thing clear:
    Before this, it needs to be recognised that there is a problem which can take years, or never happen at all. Addicts who DON’T acknowledge that there is a problem and seek help are just making their own beds. I’m sorry if that’s harsh but it’s just my honest opinion. As someone else pointed out, you get what you deserve in life. I truly believe that now. Recovery is there for those who want it. My advice to anyone who has an addict in their life who is causing them pain is to detach from them, without judging them!? They are addicted and there is NOTHING you can do about it. You are POWERLESS. The sooner you accept that the sooner you can move on with your own life. This might sound fanciful (detaching lovingly, and without judgement)but it is possible. I’ve seen it happen countless times in work I have done with addicts and their families.
    Tobin – you sound like you are dealing with a lot of anger, fear, resentment, pain, envy of your brother for the adoration he receives from your mother?! If that’s wrong then please disregard this ENTIRELY, but Al-Anon can help you with that, but then you probably already know that!?
    I wish you well, Tobin.
    God bless you.

    • Colin, thank you.

      A brilliant, well-thought out response.

      And, whether you think so or not? To me, YOU are the hero. I know what an uphill battle it is to overcome an addiction. But YOU made the decision to change and YOU did it.

      Good for you. You have my absolute and full respect.

      I wish my dad had been able to do the same.

      And Colin, yes, I know about Al-Anon. I know I sound angry, but really I’m not anymore. I’ve dealt with it through the help of friends, family and therapy. But thank you for reaching out and trying to help even more more person.

      Honestly, I know you didn’t come looking for praise, but I praise and respect you. You’ve earned it.

      Thank you very much for stopping by.

    • Colin, given that I am the mother of an addict I truly respect the courage, strength and humility that you had to access in order to beat your addiction. The discussion on this site has been very difficult for me to read. Addiction, as mentioned numerous times, is a disease, and it’s a disease that kills everyday. I’ve watched my beautiful child suffer overdoses (innumerable times), destroy his aortic valve from use of IV drugs, and have a bleed in his brain. Can any of you imagine the pain of the family member’s that watch an addict destroy themselves? Can you imagine what it’s like to be the mother of an addict? Everyday I walk a fine line between love, and enabling – yes, I’m more than familiar with 12 step programs, and all other forms of help for addiction.

      All I know is that “my” addict struggles everyday for sobriety. Sometimes it’s a battle that he wins, and then it goes back to square one – addiction. I’ve lived through uncountable withdrawals, ER visits, and near death experiences, but despite all of the aforementioned I still love my child, and have hope. I have hope that any human being with courage, strength and the proper support system can overcome the dis-ease (and I do mean the Dis Ease) of addiction.

      Ironically I have pancreatic cancer so the analogy that the two are some how different has not been “wasted” (sorry for the pun) on me. In fact, both cancer and addiction are diseases that claim far too many life’s. I suggest to all that read my positing that any human that is suffering deserves compassion, respect and love. What must drive someone to addiction that has “everything” – it is a question I still don’t have an answer to.

      So…in closing, I ask that those of you that have loved addicts to find some forgiveness and understanding for they know not what they do. For those of you that don’t understand addiction know that it is a hard, long road to recovery that very few make. In fact, the statistics on recovery are truly horrifying as most addicts die from their disease. Tobin though I do not know you I understand your pain, and frustration, but given what life has just recently taught me I hope that you have forgiveness and love in your heart for those that you have lost to addiction. In the end, all we have is our ability to love, and forgive.

      BTW – the above is just my opinion, and I hope that anyone that reads this will understand that I pray that no one ever has to witness the pain of addiction.

      • Good luck to you, Mich. You’ve got a tough load to carry. I wish you nothing but the best.

        Thanks for your comments. I’m sure that wasn’t easy for you and I respect what you’re saying.

      • That’s really beautiful, Mich. I’m touched by your story and your devotion to your son. He’s truly a lucky guy to have a parent like you. I tried to hide my didease from my mother which was easy for a while as we live in seperate towns, but she knew that something was very wrong, because she’s my mother. She didn’t understand the extent though to which I suffered, or the fact that I was very close to death towards the end. I’d avoid her for months on end, telling her I was busy with work. How selfish was I? I did have a job, just! I was always on an extended period of sick leave though.

        I must admit I did find some of the comments pretty hard to take in, too. I don’t just mean on here, where I personally feel that most contributions to this discussion have brought benefit, but in general. I don’t dislike or even blame people who hate on addicts. I just accept them, because that’s all I can do. If I don’t accept then I’m in denilal, and denial is very dangerous territory for me. There is so little awareness out there because it’s still a topic that’s taboo, and unfortunately this can lead to the kind of hateful comments that are informed by nothing but plain old ignorance.

        I don’t believe in my heart of hearts that anybody has the right to cast any judgement over any other human being. They just don’t. It’s one of the basic laws of humanity. Any person who thinks they can do this isn’t operating from their truth, and has become a victim of their own ego. Poor them, actually!!?? These people still deserve kindness, compassion and respect though, just as the addict does. I really do not wish to insult anybody at all here, really I don’t. I truly believe that EVERYBODY is perfectly entitled to have their own opinion on the matter, whatever that might be. 🙂

        My message to you Mich, for what it’s worth, is to never give up. 12 Step Fellowships teach detachment from the addict though I know this isn’t what many family members choose to do. It’s never too late to get sober, Mich, and things can change in an instant. They certainly did for me. I was waiting to die basically but one day I woke up (which was ALWAYS a huge disappointment) and I’d just had enough. As I said before, the fear of drinking became greater than the fear of not drinking. This was the first step towards recovery for me. And recovery is there for those who want it, as I said before.

        Obviously I don’t know your specific details but my advice to your son is to keep going to meetings because that stuff does work. Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly (like it says in the promises) but it does work, if you work it! Excuse the 12 Step jargon! 🙂

        I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I hadn’t found recovery through the fellowship. I almost certainly wouldn’t be here. I’m almost 36 now and I was 32 when I got sober. That would have been no age to die really, would it? Not a day goes by where I’m not grateful for my sobriety, and my life. And for the opportunity I’ve been blessed with to be able to make a difference (no matter how small) to those around me.

        Sorry if this message is a bit disjointed. I started it some hours ago when I was at work, and I’ve had to leave it and come back to it several times.

        God bless you, Mich. And your son.

      • Colin, no need to apologize for your message. What you’re saying is important and should be required reading.

        Yes, I come across pretty harsh and judgemental. I guess I’ve been burned a lot and by more than one addict, so it’s pretty hard for me to forgive.

        You, on the other hand, have lived it, and you know exactly what you’re talking about. I’m glad you stopped by my little blog and said the things you said.

        Life is precious and special. I’m glad you chose to stay among the living.

  15. You hit it right on! 100% correct! You’ve said everything I’ve felt for a long time about this! And you said it well! I don’t feel sorry for these celebrities who squander their talent and their resources and inevitably end of dead leaving heartbroken family members and friends and disillusioned fans! Enough said. You said it all! Rest in Peace Whitney Houston.

  16. I don’t agree with what is written in the title “ Houston we have a problem “.
    Nobady idolises Houston for her drug addiction ,people remmember the great singer she was, I don’t think that people agree with her use of drugs. Don’t be quick to judge unless you ‘ve been in the same situation she was in ,it’s easy to point fingers !!

  17. you are a fucking idoit, you must be white , first of all no one sad that shit when billy the kid was killing up everyone and presley drugs people made them out to be a hero, whitney done more good than wrong who R you to judge anyway, what famous person you know that havent done drugs or drink, not a one, for real, for real whitney should be history, because no one in this world can sang like that girl can, black or white.


  18. Well, it took a week, but someone FINALLY called me a fucking idiot. Oh, wait, no, they called me a fucking idoit…whatever a idoit is. Perhaps it’s some sort of evolved idiot. Or maybe it’s a white idiot.

    First lesson, hankins: if you’re going to insult someone, spell it right, or it just loses all its power. Idoit.

    And, yes, I am white. Good guess, considering my picture shows up in all 16 previous responses and in every one of them, I as white as Michael Jackson. Well, almost as white as MJ. No one is that white.

    And Billy the Kid? Really? All the drugged out celebrities and Billy’s the one you pick on? No Amy Winehouse? No Kurt Cobain?

    And yes, I think people were saying it when Presley died. Again, if you go back to my blog, you’ll see that this wasn’t an attack on Whitney. It was an attack on ANY CELEBRITY WHO DIED OF AN ADDICTION AND IS MADE OUT TO BE A HERO. That includes Elvis. That includes Michael Jackson. That includes Amy Winehouse. That includes Kurt Cobain.

    I have no idea if it includes Billy the Kid. See what you’ve done? Now I’m gonna have to go wikipedia Billy, dammit. Hold on..

    Okay, I’m back. And it’s what I thought. He was a robber and a murderer and, my guess is he did a little drinking, hell maybe even some peyote. But he never, to my knowledge, sang as a profession or acted. Though he had more names than Prince! William H. Bonney, William Henry McCarty, Jr., Billy the Kid, and Henry Antrim. So, maybe he had some sort of multiple personality thing going on too. Oh yeah, and he might have died due to an addiction, but that addiction was killin’ and robbin’ and he was shot for it.

    So, for the purposes of our study, I don’t think Billy applies. But nice try. Oh, and no, he wasn’t a hero. In fact, I’m sure at some point someone said to him, “Billy, don’t be a hero, don’t be a fool with your life.”

    And there’s several people who are famous who’ve never partaken of the forbidden fruit (sorry, that means they didn’t do alcohol or drugs in idoit-talk). Randy Bachman of the Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive. Gene Simmons of Kiss (though he’s got a whole different addiction). And, I’m sure, a ton of others. But, there’s two for you.

    You say, “for real whitney should be history” and, well, hankins, I have news for you. She’s been gone a week now. She is history.

    The one thing I’ll give you, though I wouldn’t phrase it quite the way you did? No one in this world can sang like that girl can, black or white.

    In idoit-talk, that would have come out “No one in this world could sing like that girl could, black or white.” But I would have added, “Too bad she had to piss it away on drugs and leave her family behind to wonder why.”

    Thanks for stopping by hankins. You’ve been fun. No one can mangled grammer and speling like that hankins can, black or white.

  19. I completely agree with you, except for one point. I don’t believe bobby began whitbey downfall. I trulry believe whitney was a shelter church girl who went crazy with freedom. We don’t know how she was behind the curtain in her younger days, but Bad boys attract bad girls and vice versa. I feel for bobby because since their divorce he seems too have donea 180 while whitney continued to go downhill. No one can say what all. Went on in her life, but to use one person who could have suffered a horrible fate such as mike, whitney and amy but had people who just would not stand to see her fall is britney spears. Her family literally took her too court and attained her rights, then called the calvary and had her locked away and fought for her against herself until she got better. Sorry to say but its so unfortunate black people feel that we cant stop or help each other beyond what that person wants. We tend to watch our own suffer and battle with their demons alone. Case and point whitney and mike. both families just seem to stand and watch the downward spiral. Then get mad at the world for persecution

  20. Pingback: The perfect storm « Left to Write

  21. i am always amazed at the nastiness that people feel about others. Addiction—which is “going doing down the rabbit hole” is an escape from pain. It is of course not the answer, but so many, famous or not, can not escape it. They are sad, lonely, and probably have little self-esteem. Whitney had it all—such beauty and talent—and yet she was so unhappy. Who knows what her sadness was? She just couldn’t get past it. I have so many in my life, including me, fighting to be happy, find purpose, and fighting the terrible demons of a devastating, abusive childhood. Reading on the Internet in the past few years makes me disgusted at so many human beings—so many are judgmental and cruel. Where are the kind nice, people? Life is so short! And I am not a “PollyAnna”; I have had it tough!

  22. Boy. I have to spend time reading all these posts. Most are so thoughtful unlike many I read on the Internet. The power of addiction is everywhere—in my family and all around. I wish I didn’t have to get up so early for work. Glad that there are so many thoughtful people out there!

  23. Pingback: Searching so long | My Dysfunctional Life

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