Drug Warriors Capitalizing on Whitney Houston's Death
Despite the lack of evidence to establish that Whitney Houston's death was caused by drugs or alcohol, the drug warriors are out in force. The latest to join them and capitalize on Whitney Houston's death is White House Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske, who calls her death "a teachable moment."
Earlier Monday, the L.A. coroner’s office confirmed prescription pill bottles were found in Houston’s hotel room. But the amount was "less than my medicine cabinet," L.A. County Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter said.
No one knows how she died. Drugs and alcohol may have played no role whatsoever. Her past addiction may have played no role. Her family and friends say she hadn't used illegal drugs in 3 years and no illegal drugs were found in the room. Multiple people were in and out of the room, from security guards to family members to personal assistants. Any of those people could have ordered or brought alcohol to the room for their own use.
Regardless of how Whitney Houston died, there is no just cause for a ramped-up war on prescription medications or illegal drugs. According to the Global Commission on Drug Policy, as reported by Reuters at the time,
There are 250 million users of illicit drugs worldwide, with less than a 10th of them classified as dependent... according to U.N. estimates quoted in the report.
The report also found that"decriminalization initiatives do not result in significant increases in drug use."
To use one celebrity's death, which may or may not have been drug and alcohol related, to instill fear of legitimate medications that help millions of others with anxiety or pain, is irresponsible.
Even if there was alcohol in her system (and especially if it was residual from the night before), and even if she took Xanax to reduce her anxiety about attending a party that night, the most that is appropriate is to warn people about following the instructions on their medication inserts and pill bottles. Don't use it as a soapbox to claim people are taking too many pills or in danger of dying.
Until the toxicology reports are in, there is no cautionary tale in Whitney Houston's death. There is only the tragedy of a woman whose life ended too soon.
What's next? Will some member of Congress introduce the Whitney Houston Prescription Drug Limitation Act telling doctors how many pills they can prescribe and how often, regardless of their judgment as to an individual patient's needs?
On a related note: The media Hall of Shame award today (so far) goes to the site that published photos of "the death tub." What's next? The toilet in the room?
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