The Grammy-winning singer was found dead, face down in her bathtub, at the Beverly Hills Hilton on Feb. 11, 2012, the night before the Grammy Awards. The final coroner’s report listed the cause of death as accidental drowning and “effects of atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine use.” The document also indicated that Houston had cocaine, marijuana, Xanax, Benadryl and muscle relaxants in her system when she passed away.
I know Whitney Houston’s death is old news but when I started to putting down some thoughts on drug use in the U.S. she came to mind. Of course I never heard her voice but I did see a couple of movies that she starred in. She was generally thought of as the “girl next door”. That is she was very approachable and down to earth. I was surprised to learn that the autopsy report showed she was filled with many drugs the night she died. Another young talented life destroyed by drugs.
What makes people, especially people with so many advantages in life, resort to drug use? But maybe even a deeper question is why is the U.S. far and away have the largest percentage of drug users?
Here are some news clips about that:
- The World Health Organization’s survey of legal and illegal drug use in 17 countries, including the Netherlands and other countries with less stringent drug laws, shows Americans report the highest level of cocaine and marijuana use.
- Americans were four times more likely to report using cocaine in their lifetime than the next closest country, New Zealand (16% vs. 4%),
- Marijuana use was more widely reported worldwide, and the U.S. also had the highest rate of use at 42.4% compared with 41.9% of New Zealanders.
So, why do we have such a high percentage of the world’s drug users? I am just taking a stab in the dark here but I think it is for a multitude of reasons.
- Many people use drugs to escape their current situations. I think that is especially true for those who don’t see much hope in getting the “good things in life”.
- The natural rebellious nature of many of us in the U.S. make the first step into drug use as an adventure against authority. This is probably true for many in the teen and college years
- Some at the higher income levels just get bored. They have all the money they need and still don’t get much satisfaction out of life. They want more and approach drugs as a way to get more.
- Our affluence simply gives us more money to pursue other kinds of “entertainment”.
Of course we must exclude number one from Whitney’s list but I think the others apply to her and many others of wealth who eventually succumb to drugs. Drug use, and our battle against it, is also one of the primary reasons we also have the highest percentage of our population under lock and key. We need to address the overall causes of this epidemic problem before it totally consumes us as a society. The way we are doing it now just doesn’t make any sense to me.
But I’m just a simple guy so what do I know….