Opinion: Substance abuse is nothing to celebrate

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Celebrity deaths expose the severity of society’s problems

Whitney Houston. Chris Kelly. Lisa Robin Kelly. Cory Monteith. Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Every single one of these celebrities died of substance abuse. Be it alcohol or drugs, the fatality of these substances is overlooked nearly every single day of the year, except of course when an icon is their victim.

With the recent death of Hoffman, there are several key issues that resurface, including the incredible attention paid to the celebrities who are nearly built up to fail, the ignorance of how severe substance abuse is as well as the public’s lack of priority to change those perceptions for the now and future generations.

Celebrities have an enormous amount of pressure placed upon them. And the pressure sometimes lends itself to poor decision making. Those decisions have severe consequences, in which some are able to avoid for the short-term. Eventually however, the penalties of those choices catch up to them.

The endless hype that encompasses the day to day life of a celebrity can most likely only be described as overwhelming. The public humiliation of every flaw or mistake broadcasted and painted on every tweet and magazine cover of publications like US weekly only begs for these human beings to fall and fall hard so the world can see. People such as Lindsay Lohan, Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus are just some of the few stars who have brought in monumental profits for those documenting their every move and mistake.

What’s even more unfortunate is these stars become the poster children of the misfortunes of fame. With their unlimited access to substances that offer brief escapes from their nightmarish realities, they become trapped in their own addictions. And when they pass away, the sympathies that should have been shown as they were falling, suddenly become the biggest priority of their so-called fans.

In addition to the enormous attention paid to those who are built up to fall is the little attention paid to those who don’t have fame or fortune attached to their names. Yet these people suffer the same tragically painful spiral into addiction and abuse. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “drug-related deaths have more than doubled since 1980”, and “one in four deaths is attributable to alcohol, tobacco and illicit drug use.”

There is outcry when a celebrity dies too early. Demands for the capture of the drug-dealer who sold the fatal dose are heard throughout the world. But, aside from the friends and family members of your neighbor down the street who dies of substance abuse, there is silence.

Drug abuse clearly is a severe and growing problem. And the only way it will ever change is if the public owns up to its contribution to the problem and makes a decision to end it. Education on the facts of substance abuse and a renewed sense of individual responsibility to prevent children and teenagers from buying into the intoxicated lifestyles of their role-models could help in reducing the number of drug-related deaths.

Let Hoffman’s passing serve not only as a somber reminder to how ruthless the issue of substance abuse truly is, but also as a new and sincere dedication to see drug-related deaths as a rarity for the generation to come.

 

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