I’m always a bit disturbed when a celebrity like Cory Monteith dies from a drug overdose. It’s not because I’m a great celebrity hound — I doubt that I’ve seen a single episode of Glee, and I wouldn’t have known Mr. Monteith if I saw him. I’m not proud of not having watched Glee, mind you; it’s probably my loss. It’s just the way my life rolls. However, I feel badly about the loss of another person who brought pleasure to many, and about the loss to his family, his friends, and (perhaps) to modern culture. I feel that in a sort of general, regretful way.
But what I really feel badly about is the loss of another human being to the siren call and eventual death by addiction. And I feel badly about the fact that we say “OMG! What a shame!” and similar things when a Cory Monteith learns the final lesson about heroin, or alcohol, or any of the dozen or so other common drugs that kill folks regularly. I feel strongly about that, because we behave as though we don’t give a rat’s ass about the dozens of other addicts who overdose every day.
There were 38,329 drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2010 — that’s one every thirteen minutes, day and night. They overdose for a variety of reasons, ranging from total naïvete to suicide, but the vast majority don’t do it on purpose. They die because they didn’t get useful information about the effects of drug use, or because they didn’t have access to clean drugs. They die because they didn’t know basic things, like the fact that a heroin or other opiate addict loses tolerance to the drug so rapidly that shooting up a couple of weeks after detox can be deadly.
Cory Monteith was no one special as far as I’m concerned. I grieve for every junkie who dies with a needle in her arm, or a few partially-digested Oxys in his belly, not just for the ones fortunate enough to spend a few years in the spotlight. We tsk, tsk! when a Cory Monteith dies, but in a couple of days we’re looking the other way, and we do nothing to take a stand about the lack of care and treatment for addicts in what is supposedly the most advanced nation in the history of the world.
A junkie is a junkie. A death is a death, and
“Send not to learn for whom the bell tolls….”
It could be for your loved one.
What are you going to do about it?