BY JOSEPH STURGEON
In previous months, various headlines have appeared about celebrities falling victim to drug addiction. On July 24, it was revealed that pop singer and former Disney actress Demi Lovato had a nearly-fatal overdose on heroin. In late 2017, rapper Lil Peep died of a fentanyl and Xanax overdose. On September 7, rapper Mac Miller passed away following a drug overdose, struggling with drug addiction for several years prior to his passing.
Hollywood and drug abuse are seemingly intertwined. One of the most popular Hollywood actresses of the 1950s, Elizabeth Taylor, struggled with drug addiction for much of her career. In an era where Hollywood stars were often overworked and mistreated by producers, it was encouraged by studio doctors that stars take drugs, with the use of them being excessive.
According to the Associated Press, from 1981 to 1990, doctors wrote Taylor over 1,000 prescriptions for 28 different substances. The excessive use of these substances could have been fatal for Taylor and would have been if she hadn’t sought treatment after recognizing the health issues that her drug use was causing.
Although drugs seem to be romanticized in popular culture, many celebrities renounce the use of drugs and promote a straight-edge lifestyle.
In the modern era of Hollywood, circumstances for stars aren’t as harsh as they were in the early stages, but the tradition of drug abuse in Hollywood has continued. Stars such as Zac Efron, Lady Gaga, Ed Sheeran and Amy Winehouse have all fought their own personal battles with drug abuse.
“I was drinking a lot, way too much,” Efron said in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter. “It’s never one specific thing. I mean, you’re in your 20s, single, going through life in Hollywood, you know? Everything is thrown at you.”
Television and film aren’t the only areas in the entertainment industry where stars have struggled with drug addiction. The music industry, especially in hip-hop and rock music, has a plethora of stars who have struggled with drug addiction. One notable case of a musician struggling with addiction is Jim Morrison, the late lead singer of rock band The Doors.
While the conversation of drug abuse among celebrities is a rather complicated and sensitive one, one thing to be certain of is that children and teens pay close attention to what their idols are doing.
After listening to the lyrics Morrison sings in some of The Doors’ songs, it becomes obvious that the singer dealt with traumatic events throughout the course of his life, leading to drug use. Lines like “Strange eyes fill strange rooms/And through their strange hours we linger alone/Bodies confused/Memories misused/As we run from the day to a strange night of stone” reference loneliness and longing for the past, two things that may influence drug use.
Although drugs seem to be romanticized in popular culture, many celebrities renounce the use of drugs and promote a straight-edge lifestyle. Rapper Vince Staples emphasizes his lack of drug use in several interviews, along with rapper Lil Yachty, who tweeted in 2016, “No liquor, no drugs.”
— underdog (@lilyachty) April 2, 2016
“There is a will and a need amongst some of us to try to better ourselves and better our perception,” Staples said in an interview with CNN. “There’s so many better things we can do and can show these kids, other than, you know, what drugs to take.”
Deaths such as Mac Miller’s could have been prevented, and that starts with spreading awareness of drug abuse.
While the conversation of drug abuse among celebrities is a rather complicated and sensitive one, one thing to be certain of is that children and teens pay close attention to what their idols are doing. As many songs as there are glorifying drug use in lyrics, there are just as many campaigns, like Fresh Empire, committing to end drug use among teens and parents alike.
Drug use and mental health are important topics that are starting to be addressed more in popular culture. Deaths such as Mac Miller’s could have been prevented, and that starts with spreading awareness of drug abuse.
Photo courtesy of 18P