The news was tragic, but unfortunately not surprising: The coroner’s office announced Tuesday that Glee star Cory Monteith died of a “mixed drug toxicity, involving heroin and alcohol.” The actor had checked into rehab and completed a 30-day stint in April and had talked openly about battling addiction as a teenager. In the wake of his death, the Internet took a break from getting itself outraged about that Rolling Stone cover and instead is using this as an opportunity to educate people about addiction and how all-encompassing and devastating the illness can be.
Comedian Rob Delaney – who himself got sober 11 years ago – shared some thoughts on his Tumblr, highlighting how addiction is a lifelong battle but that no one is beyond help or destined to die from their demons. “One of the hallmarks of alcoholism and addiction is multiple attempts to curb your use/abuse of drugs and alcohol. I’m only writing this because I sensed a fatalism in some of the replies I received from people, suggesting they believe that some folks are destined to OD and die. F— that. F— you if you think that. Addiction is a brutal, cunning, shapeshifting enemy, but I’ve seen people from every walk of life kick it in the f—ing mouth. But if you want to beat it, you must ACKNOWLEDGE ITS STRENGTH.”
He goes on to say, “Booze and drugs are elemental; they don’t care about the alcoholic/addict. They don’t love her, they don’t hate her. But they’ll kill her dead if she doesn’t stand arm in arm with her brothers and sisters and GET HIP to the skill set that will allow her to continue to draw breath in a world where booze and drugs exist, just like firetrucks and cliffs and other things that will kill you without even noticing.”
Time magazine highlighted how we tend to treat addicts on a broader scale, particularly treatment for heroin addiction. “Abstaining for a few weeks, as many rehab programs require, lowers tolerance [for the drug] so if an addict were to use again, a previously normal dose could become fatal. Most deadly overdoses occur either in new users or in experienced addicts following a period of abstinence, such as in prison or rehab.” They report that the National Institute on Drug Abuse advocates for “maintenance treatment with drugs like methadone or Suboxone to treat opioid addictions, rather than abstinence. Research shows that these treatments can lower overdose and disease-related death rates but they remain controversial.”