I caught a glimpse of Lea Michelle on the news the other night when she dedicated her Teen Choice award to Cory Monteith. It made me realize I still grieve for a young man I’ve never even met. The sickening sadness remains that I’ve felt so many times before, when I know another mother grieves, another father has lost his son. A glamorous girlfriend
and talented friends are undoubtedly still wondering why they weren’t enough to save him.
Cory Monteith was a handsome man and a gifted talent…so gifted in fact that he earned international fame for his role in the popular TV show, “Glee.” But Cory was stalked by a cunning predator that all the good looks, and all the talent in the world, could not save him from. Cory suffered from addiction, a sometimes fatal disease for which there is still no cure.
To look at Cory, he didn’t fit the stereotype of heroin addiction, just as my daughter, Annie, was an unlikely candidate for meth. But addiction does not discriminate. It knows no color, no ethnicity, no religion, nor sex or sexual orientation. It affects the young and the old, the rich and the poor, the famous and the invisible, the brilliant, and the not so very brilliant. It doesn’t know one side of the tracks from the other.
In fact, the prominent and wealthy seem able to fly under the addiction radar the longest. Money enables the ability to buy drugs without many of the negative consequences of use…such as homelessness or the legal ramifications of dealing, stealing or prostitution. But the effect on mind, body and spirit is the same for all whom addiction ravages.
It’s been reported that Cory Monteith was a heavy drug user in his teens, but found recovery at age 19. He was clean for over 10 years. What went wrong? What caused the relapse? Many will say that Cory brought this on himself. Had he never picked up, had he only said “no,” had he only worked his program more rigorously he might still be alive. But as my daughter has taught me, some of us are sicker than others. Addiction’s hold is tighter on some, and many of us deal with co-occurring illnesses which make abstinence more challenging. Who in life doesn’t want to quiet their demons, or quell a nagging physical pain, a tormenting emotion or memory, unbearable stress or shame? Drugs offer a solution, albeit a bad one, at least for a minute…right up until the time they ruin your life…or take it all together.
When I was growing up, heroin, the granddaddy of all drugs, was the line to never cross. Highly addictive, the potential for overdose could not be overstated. Seemingly a drug foraged only by destitute junkies in the darkest shadows of the inner city, we were afraid of it. It was “over there” somewhere, in a reality beyond our own. An occasional rock star succumbed to its power, as did some in the 1960’s counter-culture, but that was just another kind of “over there” for most of us.
Times have changed. Heroin’s now here and many have, unbelievably, lost their fear of its power to kill. It’s everywhere…in our schools, our parks, on our college campuses, in our places of business and yes, in our families. No longer just “over there,” people in the mainstream, whom we know and love, are dying.
Let’s hope the cast and crew of Glee, as they say their goodbyes to Cory and commemorate him in a future episode, seize this opportunity to educate his fans about addiction. I can think of no better way to honor him than by shedding a revealing light on that handsome face of his, and try to save others from a similar fate.
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