- by K Duron

The other day I was watching the new episode of the hit TV series, Glee. The episode, title “Quarterback,” was made in tribute to the late actor of the show, Cory Monteith, 31. It was a very emotional and beautiful episode, and it certainly did a fine job of highlighting both Finn Hudson’s relationships in the show, and how people really cared deeply about the actor in real life for his warm-heart, generosity, humor, and genuine kindness toward everyone.

Cory Monteith’s death this past July was a result of a heroin and alcohol overdose. Cory struggled with substance addiction since his early teen years. And while his character’s reason of death was unspecified in the show, public service announcements were aired during commercials featuring Glee cast members talking about addiction and the importance of seeking help.

This made me think about many struggling artists who, like Monteith, also battled these demons but were taken to soon by overdose or other reasons to overcome them. Some of these include Heath Ledger, Jim Morrison, Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse, Hillel Slovak, Brittany Murphy, to name a few. And there is an incredible respect for the talent that stars like these had, no doubt. What I come across too often, however, is when fans simply choose to forget, or not learn from the mistakes of their idols. I have met fans of Amy Winehouse who know that she died of alcohol poisoning at age 27, and yet they continue to drink incessantly.

I think that once these stars pass, it becomes almost taboo to speak about why. In the Glee tribute episode, Finn’s brother-in-law on the show says that the cause of death “doesn’t matter.”And I completely understand that in a time of grief, it is important to do just that- grieve, and mourn the loss and try to come to terms with the loss of a human being. I think it is after that we should reflect on the why. After doing some digging myself, I found that Cory had started drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana when he was only thirteen. And that really isn’t uncommon. We all know at school who smokes and who drinks and who parties hard, and we know that many people start that young. But if we know that the earlier we start, the harder it is to overcome addiction, why do we continue? If we know that many of our favorite musicians and actors and artists could have continued making music we enjoy or movies we love had it not been for substance abuse, why do we forget?

Addiction is very complex, and it may seem like “she only smokes weed once in a while” or “he only drinks a lot on the weekends,” but the truth is that any substance can have a snowballing effect. But it doesn’t have to be this way. We should look at the talented stars and admire their gifts, but learn from their mistakes as well. One very good example of putting mistakes to good use is the former Friends actor, Matthew Perry, 43, who battled alcohol and substance abuse for long periods of time. One of the best things he considers about himself now, is using his experiences to help others, as he recently turned his Malibu mansion into a sober living home for men called Perry House. Furthermore, as in his recent interview with People Magazine, he mentions that he is also working on getting funds for drug courts and asking for treatment over jail time for non violent offenders. He says that he wanted to do things his way, but he found the help he needed and now his wish is that "When I die, I'd like Friends to be listed behind helping people."

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