The Grammy's are gone for another year and they succeeded in honoring their fallen comrade Whitney Houston.
There is something this week that has disturbed me greatly that I believe needs to be addressed. Whitney Houston was a great artist, there is no question. I am of that generation of MTVers that was subjected to Whitney songs like 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody' on heavy rotation, up-ending our male pubescent need to see some wild-eyed, black-haired vixen in whatever the latest Ratt video happened to be. We loved Whitney too though, probably more, because she seemed to emanate a girl next door energy that we all secretly wished we might meet someday. The girl in the Ratt video represented something we didn't understand at that young age, but Whitney earned our sincerest appreciation and it stayed with us.
Then came fame and fortune and for those not ready to deal with it (and who is?) the crossover from unknown to known can be fraught with all kinds of issues and dilemmas. Whitney Houston was no different in that regard, except perhaps for how quickly she fell. I still remember watching her on the show she did with Bobbi Brown simply dumbstruck that this was the same woman who well over a decade earlier I'd thought hung the moon. The moon was still there for me, but it was tinged with a sadness of how someone like Whitney Houston, who rose so high, could fall so incredibly far so quickly.
Whitney Houston's Family Dealing with Her Death
So, this Valentine's Day I check CNN and find myself perplexed at the response of her family in regard to Whitney Houston's early demise. It seems they are 'concerned' about the media's portrayal of her drug use, which was widely publicized and satirized on nearly every sketch comedy show known to man or beast. It was no secret and it is no secret that Whitney Houston was a raging addict. In her infamous interview with Diane Sawyer where Whitney made a feeble attempt to quash the idea that she was ever addicted to crack by stating 'crack is whack' - well, it struck me as a half measure. There was still the stigma attached to being an addict for her and while there is no blame in it, there should be no shame either. What might have been more cathartic, albeit in hindsight, was if she had had the strength to explain why crack is in fact whack; that it damn nearly ruined her life and she wished for all the Grammy's in the world she'd never touched the stuff. The thing I find so incredibly sad is that much in the same way Amy Winehouse's family did what they could to quash the idea that their daughter was human (which was after all, the reason we all loved her art so much) is that there is this extremely unfortunate shame Houston's family is under. Surely most addiction experts would agree that denial is not a river in Egypt, and that Houston's family as a whole will have hopefully reached their bottom with her death in order to stop the progression of the dis-ease they are under currently, because that is certainly what I believe it to be.
Ashamed of Whitney Houston's Drug Addiction?
But to be ashamed of the truth? No, I say that this is the best opportunity to highlight and underline and call out in capital letters that DRUG ADDICTION KILLS. And while I think it is just as unfortunate that the likes of Dr. Drew, who in my opinion has done more to glamorize drug and alcohol addiction than Whitney Houston ever did, will likely get on his soapbox too, which is far larger than mine, and tout the tragedy that it was. But, he probably won't suggest the family do anything to honor her memory in a more meaningful way by trying to be someone else's life by not being ashamed of the truth that she was an addict.
I myself have been sober for just shy of fifteen and a half years, and while I had some support of my family, it is up to the individual to get themselves to a point where they ask for help and can receive help. Sure, i went through a period where i couldn't imagine anyone knowing I drank entirely too much, but then I realized that everyone already knew anyway! That drug addiction was a place of darkness for Whitney Houston and her family is not a thing to be left there, in the dark, rather, it needs to be shown for what it was and what a beautiful life it ultimately destroyed, no matter how much they may want to avoid looking at that, if in fact it was the case. Even the LA County coroners office exhibited a complete disregard for responsible commentary in my estimation when they offered their opinion that not as many prescriptions were found at her scene compared to the typical drug overdose scene. Sorry ladies and gentlemen, but all it takes to OD is ONE prescription.
Taking Control of Addictions
The bottom line here is that you should take heed. If you have a family member who is in the grips of addiction, do what you can to get them help. Educate yourself about the best manner in which to help them and do not be afraid. There are resources everywhere if all you do is but seek them out. If you are yourself in the grips of addiction to drugs and/or alcohol, you can be free of it the moment you understand you are powerless over how it affects you.
So, if you're reading this, I want to hear from you. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what you think. Pass it on to your friends and family and start the conversation, so that perhaps together we can all do justice to the complete memory of Whitney Houston and help someone who still suffers.
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