Whitney Houston’s Legacy May Not Be What You Think

Even though we’ve long known about her struggles with chemical dependency, the death of Whitney Houston at the young age of 48 left us all shocked and saddened.  Another great talent gone from this earth.

The recent article by NaturalNews.com, “Timeline of Celebrities Killed by Big Pharma”, reminded me of the long list of celebrities, who like Whitney, fell victim to the pressures of fame–physically, emotionally and spiritually–and then turned to drugs for relief.

I write this blog post, not because I’m enamored with these celebrities.  I’m merely a fan, not unlike you.  The loss of these “big names” is a small piece of a much larger problem in our country (and yes, even right here in West Fargo, Fargo and Moorhead).  That problem is the overuse of prescription medications.

Now, before you click away from this entry and think that you and your family aren’t susceptible, and the Jackson’s, Winehouse’s and Houston’s are rarities whose fame and fortune put their atypical drug problems in the spotlight, you should know these facts:

  • Prescription drug abuse is the fastest-growing drug problem in America and is now considered an epidemic by the Centers for Disease Control.
  • Every 14 minutes, a person is killed by prescription drugs.
  • The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) shows that nearly one-third of people aged 12 and over who used drugs for the first time in 2009 began by using a prescription drug non-medically.
  • In our military, illicit drug use increased from 5% to 12% among active duty service members from 2005 to 2008, primarily due to non-medical use of prescription drugs.
  • Those who misuse prescription drugs, particularly teens, believe these substances are safer than illicit drugs because they are prescribed by a healthcare professional and dispensed by a pharmacist.

These statistics are not those of the Hollywood scene or unique to celebrities and entertainers.  This data is reflective of otherwise normal individuals, many of whom had no prior history of drug abuse or addiction, who have become hooked on prescription drugs.  It’s only a matter of time before your family or circle of friends is affected (if you haven’t been already).

Our last post to this blog, “Simple Steps to a Prescription-Free Lifestyle”, while coincidental in light of Whitney’s death just a few days after, was timely.  Our society has created a quick fix world and with that comes confusion on what ‘true health’ really is.  That confusion has led to nearly half of all Americans now taking a prescription medication.  More women take them than men (about 40 percent more, according to a recent Consumer Reports survey), which put women like Whitney Houston at an even greater risk for side-effects, medication error, and abuse.

Prescription drug abuse is a treatable and even preventable health problem and with so much media attention and discussion on the topic after Whitney’s death, the issue can now get the focus that’s needed to create awareness and change.

Whitney Houston will be remembered in life for her passion, talent and soulful music.  In her death, perhaps her legacy will be the focus her loss has brought to the issue of prescription drug abuse in America, and the changes that were made as a result.  Her family, friends and fans can then take comfort in knowing her loss was not in vain.