Celebrity deaths because of drugs have impact on society

Alexandra Woolbright


For me, many beautiful memories revolve around days spent twirling around to all sorts of music. Whether it was Jimi Hendrix, The Doors or Elvis Presley, I grew up with a vast array of sounds and excitement. I knew all the words to “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” at a very early age.

I even went through a phase where I adored nothing but Nirvana and gazing at a Kool Aid hair-soaked Kurt Cobain.

In middle school I discovered the raspy voice of Janis Joplin and fell in love. I would go through the hallways singing about Mercedes Benz’s and heartbreak, even having my mother purchase me a pair of oversized sunglasses and a floppy hat.

I’ve spent years of my life not only with music of all sorts, but also movies that shaped my entire world.

My favorite movie of all time will forever be “The Wizard of Oz.” I’ve spent countless hours of my life watching Judy Garland sing and dance on the yellow brick road with her companions and small dog.

Also, one of my first on screen crushes was Heath Ledger as Patrick in “10 Things I Hate About You.”

Then, at the beginning of this month I learned the ever talented actor Philip Seymour Hoffman had died from a speculated drug overdose.

Suddenly, my world began to have a very clear pattern. Almost all of the artists I found so fascinating and talented had died because of drugs. All of the music and artwork I held so dear was somehow influenced by drugs or people that did them.

Thus, my brain began to slowly think of all the celebrities who had died because of an overdose. From River Phoenix to Corey Monteith, it seemed to never end.

As I sat in my room blaring Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “That Smell,” I couldn’t seem to wrap my head around why so many people seemed to have such a problem with drugs. I know people who have experimented with things, but no one who has a true addiction. I couldn’t help but wonder if this was a problem for the elite and talented or was there an epidemic near my own home?

According to the Organization for Healthy Americans, Mississippi has the 30th highest drug overdose mortality rate in the United States. The state has 11.4 per 100,000 people in the state succumbing to drug overdose fatalities.

It appears that the state has its biggest problem with methamphetamine.

The Mississippi Drug Control Update published by the White House reported meth lab seizure incidents increased 334 percent from 2007 to 2009.

It appears to be a crisis all over the nation.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported 123.5 million people aged 12 or older needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol abuse problem in 2009. 2.6 million received it at a specialty facility.

So who is to blame? Are we as a nation suffering from drug abuse because we see celebrities doing it? Does the death of famous, talented individuals have no influence on how the public sees drug use? Should we be more forgiving of those living in the spotlight facing scrutiny for personal problems?

It is something that, sadly, no one can truly answer. However, it is extremely apparent that at some point we must all realize the harm certainly outweighs the benefits of drugs, both prescription and illegal.