White House drug czar: Whitney Houston’s death is a “teachable moment”

posted at 12:45 pm on February 14, 2012 by Tina Korbe

It’s a favorite phrase of this administration — “teachable moment” — and drug czar Gil Kerlikowske couldn’t resist applying it to the recent death of the legendary Whitney Houston. The Hill reports:

Kerlikowske, the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, said Houston’s passing puts a spotlight on the issue of prescription drug use. The superstar had opened up about in past interviews admitting to problems with substance abuse, however the Los Angeles County coroner however has still not ruled on the cause of her death. …

The nation’s top drug-policy enforcer told CBS that this type of drug use affects a “huge number” of people throughout the country and causes deaths in “very, very high numbers.”

“They’re coming right out of our medicine cabinets and yet these drugs are as addictive and dangerous as any other drug,” he added.

Kerlikowske said that Houston’s struggles with substance abuse highlight the fact that the issue spans all demographics and socioeconomic barriers. …

“We can use this a moment to help people understand and remember that there are literally billions of Americans suffering from this problem,” he said.

I get what Kerlikowske meant by his remarks, but, for some reason, the application of that phrase in this instance just felt off. Whitney Houston’s death does seem doubly tragic and unnecessarily premature because drugs probably played a part, but, mostly, in the immediate wake of her death, mourners want to remember her immense talent, not her personal demons. That doesn’t mean fans should remain in denial about her drug difficulties — just that they should be allowed to lament her loss without a lecture from the administration.

As long as Kerlikowske is going to talk about substance abuse, though, I’d prefer he didn’t imply (or come right out and say) drug addiction is a disease. Addicts might need help, but it’s not as though they “contracted” an addiction through no fault of their own. Is caffeine addiction a disease in need of a cure? Kerlikowske’s framing of the issue ensures a role for the government in solving it, whereas a framing of the issue that suggests addicts can be empowered to take personal responsibility minimizes the need for government involvement.

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Not true. Chronic, late-stage alcoholics can die from withdrawal while enduring delirium tremens, which is why chronic alcoholics should be dried out under close medical superivision, but no other drug; e.g., heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines, et al kills the addict in withdrawal. Addicts can get very sick, sure, but they don’t die. They only want to.

troyriser_gopftw on February 14, 2012 at 2:49 PM

Withdrawal is an absolutely miserable and excruciating experience. But you survive. And tend to live longer.

Logboy on February 14, 2012 at 3:03 PM

What a woman!

Huh? Oh sorry, I can’t be bothered to care about the politicization of her death by either side. She was everything.

libfreeordie on February 14, 2012 at 3:05 PM

Scurry off now Robert you pathetic coward.

Odie1941 on February 14, 2012 at 2:45 PM

Oh, I’m back.

Still waiting for an explanation from you on how a physiological response isn’t biological. But I’m the coward.

Funny that I answered all of your questions, yet you still haven’t answered my first one.

Typical.

catmman on February 14, 2012 at 3:10 PM

Odie1941 on February 14, 2012 at 2:45 PM

Sorry to hear about your father, btw. Losing a parent is hard.

catmman on February 14, 2012 at 3:12 PM

… there are literally billions of Americans suffering from this problem,” he said.

.
Reviewed the vid, he actually said “millions.” It’s more fun to go with The Hill’s error in transliteration, though.

ExpressoBold on February 14, 2012 at 3:17 PM

What we need is more government regulation of bathtubs.
The Federal Government should require all new bathtubs sold in the USA have a lifesize picture of a bathtub death victim silk screened on the bottom of every tub.

Wallythedog on February 14, 2012 at 3:19 PM

Withdrawal is an absolutely miserable and excruciating experience. But you survive. And tend to live longer.

Logboy on February 14, 2012 at 3:03 PM

Enough of the contraception talk, a woman is dead here.

NoDonkey on February 14, 2012 at 3:21 PM

Odie1941 on February 14, 2012 at 2:45 PM
Sorry to hear about your father, btw. Losing a parent is hard.

catmman on February 14, 2012 at 3:12 PM

And I need to apologize for getting a bit personal.

As you can see – this isnt just some throw away issue, its pretty emotional and I have lived the life from all sides.

I do not think its just a behavioral problem – and rely on the medical data.

But anyone who honestly says sorry for the loss of my hero – my father – is good in my book.

Again – I apologize.

Odie1941 on February 14, 2012 at 3:23 PM

Odie1941 on February 14, 2012 at 3:23 PM

Ditto. I lost my mom just a couple of years ago. Its very hard.

catmman on February 14, 2012 at 3:29 PM

Yet again, Tina is on the crazy train. Attacking absolutely anything that comes out of the administration for any reason possible. Really? You are going to attack them for trying to raise awareness about prescription drug abuse? How dare they try to save lives!

sob0728 on February 14, 2012 at 3:37 PM

What a woman!…She was everything.
 
libfreeordie on February 14, 2012 at 3:05 PM

 
Yep, that was some fine yodelling.
 
Welcome back, btw.

rogerb on February 14, 2012 at 4:03 PM

Addicts can get very sick, sure, but they don’t die. They only want to.

troyriser_gopftw on February 14, 2012 at 2:49 PM

Like with alcohol, withdrawal from drugs can cause seizures which are life threatening.

Blake on February 14, 2012 at 4:19 PM

My gut feeling is that Houston, like a number of drug abusers, took a lot of different drugs that never fully excreted from her system. Their breathing gets depressed to the point their heart stops. I believe the same thing happened to Heath Ledger.

Blake on February 14, 2012 at 4:26 PM

Yet again, Tina is on the crazy train. Attacking absolutely anything that comes out of the administration for any reason possible. Really?

It’s a pretty wise default position.

CycloneCDB on February 14, 2012 at 4:28 PM

… there are literally billions of Americans suffering from this problem,” he said.

.
Reviewed the vid, he actually said “millions.” It’s more fun to go with The Hill’s error in transliteration, though.

ExpressoBold on February 14, 2012 at 3:17 PM

Ugh.

Gil misuses “literally” as if he never had a grammar teacher, and you meant “transcription,” not “transliteration,” which is entirely different.

Hey, maybe we need another Czar?

Adjoran on February 14, 2012 at 4:29 PM

Does this mean they’re going to have a Zanax Summit?

Flange on February 14, 2012 at 4:33 PM

Cheer up,, look at it this way, that’s one less vote for Obama

Shain1611 on February 14, 2012 at 4:39 PM

We can use this a moment to help people understand and remember that there are literally billions of Americans suffering from this problem,” he said.

Did he really say “billions”?

KOOLAID2 on February 14, 2012 at 1:27 PM

Yeah, I caught that too. Then he went with “prescription drug use affects a “huge number” of people throughout the country and causes deaths in “very, very high numbers.”

You don’t have to back up ‘numbers’ like that. Hey, ‘huge’ is ‘huge’. Who can dispute that ‘fact’. I’m sure that many people have a problem with prescription drugs, but this smacks of a crisis in the making and control for the taking. Did you know that you are limited now to the amount of cold medicine you can buy off the shelf?

PorchDawg on February 14, 2012 at 4:44 PM

What a woman!

Huh? Oh sorry, I can’t be bothered to care about the politicization of her death by either side. She was everything.

libfreeordie on February 14, 2012 at 3:05 PM

Wow, I’m surprised that a Leftist would post that particular clip-after all, the song performed is one that some on the Left consider to be a War Propaganda Song.

One Leftist actually “interpreted” the lyrics thusly:

“the land of the free”

TRANSLATION: No onerous tax burdens here- no siree! Except that Americans are the most regulated and taxed people on the face of the earth. Oops.

“and the home of the brave!”

TRANSLATION: Brave people kill their enemies. Only cowards would actually trust in their maker for salvation and “turn the other cheek.”

Go Geezus Go!
Crusades, anyone?

And one of Andrew Sullivan’s Leftist “readers” complained:

Our knee-jerk patriots, who want not just to enforce patriotism at sporting events but even determine the tone of that patriotism, need a history lesson. Until the First World War, no one would have dreamt of playing the “Star-Spangled Banner” before a baseball game. Sports, especially professional sports, were thought to be inherently unworthy of the dignity and gravitas assigned to our national anthem. Only pro-war patriotic zeal – and the desire of baseball owners to be allowed to continue to play during the conflict – led to the now-unquestioned pairing of flag-waving and jock-sniffing that is so central to one strain of “America F*ck Yeah!” patriotism.

But I’m even more surprised that you posted that clip because it also glorified a War. Heck, if a Bush had been President when that performance had taken place, you Leftists would have rioted in the streets and called for his Impeachment.

Oh, wait a minute-a Bush was President when Whitney sang that War Propaganda Song. My Bad!

Del Dolemonte on February 14, 2012 at 5:34 PM

I’d prefer he didn’t imply (or come right out and say) drug addiction is a disease. Addicts might need help, but it’s not as though they “contracted” an addiction through no fault of their own.

Oh boy. You clearly are not an addict nor know anyone that is an addict for you to say something so silly.

Perhaps you should look up the word disease.

Addiction is most definitely a disease.

ButterflyDragon on February 14, 2012 at 6:04 PM

Breaking News: Whitney Houston still dead. Stay tuned here for any future developments

Dollayo on February 14, 2012 at 6:16 PM

Oh, wait a minute-a Bush was President when Whitney sang that War Propaganda Song. My Bad!

Del Dolemonte on February 14, 2012 at 5:34 PM

Oh I can get caught up in a moment of naked patriotism as much as the next person, and when Whitney Houston is pounding the war drum I find its rhythms particularly persuasive. But the anthem, as performed, is a short song. And when the emotions cool it becomes important to get back to the important work of opposing American imperialism. But there’s no way I could possibly deprive myself of enjoying Ms. Houston’s rendition of that song, to do so would be an attempt of self delusion that is emotionally unhealthy. Her voice rattles the echo chamber of the soul when it was at its peak.

libfreeordie on February 14, 2012 at 6:17 PM

Isn’t it somewhat ironic that a woman who hasn’t been clean for years managed to die in a bath.

Norky on February 14, 2012 at 6:24 PM

This just in: Whitney Houston has now been drug free for at least one day.

Norky on February 14, 2012 at 6:30 PM

This is why Whitney was magic. Not the diva melissmas or even the belting. Just pure, song stylings and brilliant phrasing. Its impossible not to fall in love.

libfreeordie on February 14, 2012 at 6:31 PM

Ugh.

Gil misuses “literally” as if he never had a grammar teacher, and you meant “transcription,” not “transliteration,” which is entirely different.

Hey, maybe we need another Czar?

Adjoran on February 14, 2012 at 4:29 PM

.
Ugh… my bad. Transcription is what I meant (although I can make a case for converting from lib-speak to con-speak as “transliteration” BUT I’ll go quietly, this time).

ExpressoBold on February 14, 2012 at 6:48 PM

as performed, is a short song.
 
libfreeordie on February 14, 2012 at 6:17 PM

 
You hit on something there. That wasn’t the National Anthem. That was the Whitney Houston show, and the song didn’t matter (might be why you like it, even). If you didn’t know the lyrics already that warbling mess wouldn’t have helped you at all.
 
Thanks for the links, though. I’ve been wondering who is ultimately to blame for prompting the evolution to our currently-pitiful state of pop yodelling/auto-tuning vocalists.
 
Until a pre-1991 link comes up, Whitney Houston it is.

rogerb on February 14, 2012 at 6:51 PM

superstar had opened up about in past interviews admitting to problems with substance abuse, however the Los Angeles County coroner however has still not ruled on the cause of her death. …

Meh. Another “she acted stupidly” moment before the facts are known and she’s already besmirched by this admin for their own agenda. And will there be another beer drug summit if facts proved to be due to other circumstances?

AH_C on February 14, 2012 at 7:30 PM

The tragedy happened about 20 years ago. What happened Sunday was inevitable.

OptionsTrader on February 14, 2012 at 7:37 PM

Until a pre-1991 link comes up, Whitney Houston it is.

rogerb on February 14, 2012 at 6:51 PM

If you think Whitney Houston is to blame for auto tuning you don’t know anything about the human voice. Whitney Houston, of all people, was anything *but* an auto tuned voice. The point is that her voice was stunningly perfect. Jeez.

libfreeordie on February 14, 2012 at 10:33 PM

So 10 hours later – after being called to the mat for blatant medical stupidity – this post has yet to be updated or corrected, in lieu of Tina’s “opinion” about addiction and disease.

Integrity is a lost value. Ignorance is embraced.

Odie1941 on February 14, 2012 at 11:03 PM

If you think Whitney Houston is to blame for auto tuning you don’t know anything about the human voice. Whitney Houston, of all people, was anything *but* an auto tuned voice. The point is that her voice was stunningly perfect. Jeez.

libfreeordie on February 14, 2012 at 10:33 PM

I agree with you 100%. We may trade political barbs – but you clearly know music. Amazing how the intent of this trash was to point a political finger at the drug Czar, due to Houstons tragic OD.

And ended up with her being schooled on medical facts, along with every idiot to bash Houston.

Every 10 minutes each year – I get the liberal thing. I really do.

Odie1941 on February 14, 2012 at 11:11 PM

the ONLY things that sustain any non-active addict:

the GRACE of God
ultimate FAITH
and
FREE WILL

We choose each and every day to live or die…..

as an aside – instead of Whitney Houston bubblebath – how about Bobby scumbag Brown punching bags?

Katfish on February 15, 2012 at 12:15 AM

The tragedy happened about 20 years ago. What happened Sunday was inevitable.
OptionsTrader on February 14, 2012 at 7:37 PM

I can’t agree that “What happened Sunday was inevitable.”

But I absolutely agree that the real tragedy happened 20 years ago. : (

listens2glenn on February 15, 2012 at 12:56 AM

Katfish on February 15, 2012 at 12:15 AM

Very nicely stated.
Yes, including the punching-bag.
Any other time, I would insert a “smiley face” after that ‘punching bag’ line, but it doesn’t seem appropriate right now. : (

listens2glenn on February 15, 2012 at 1:02 AM

So 10 hours later – after being called to the mat for blatant medical stupidity – this post has yet to be updated or corrected, in lieu of Tina’s “opinion” about addiction and disease.

Integrity is a lost value. Ignorance is embraced.

Odie1941 on February 14, 2012 at 11:03 PM

I agree. I have no desire to read any more of posts. And it’s not just this one post, this just seemed to be the straw that broke the camel’s back for me.

I’ll continue to enjoy the rest of the blog, I’ll just skip her stuff.

ButterflyDragon on February 15, 2012 at 1:10 AM

Whitney Houston, of all people, was anything *but* an auto tuned voice. The point is that her voice was stunningly perfect. Jeez.
 
libfreeordie on February 14, 2012 at 10:33 PM

 
Yes, I already agreed that her yodelling was top-notch. Please work on your reading comprehension.
 

who is ultimately to blame for prompting the evolution to our currently-pitiful state of pop yodelling/auto-tuning vocalists.
 
Until a pre-1991 link comes up, Whitney Houston it is.
 
rogerb on February 14, 2012 at 6:51 PM

rogerb on February 15, 2012 at 8:27 AM

Not true. Chronic, late-stage alcoholics can die from withdrawal while enduring delirium tremens, which is why chronic alcoholics should be dried out under close medical superivision, but no other drug; e.g., heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines, et al kills the addict in withdrawal. Addicts can get very sick, sure, but they don’t die. They only want to.

troyriser_gopftw on February 14, 2012 at 2:49 PM

Not true for all heroin addicts. My 21-year-old daughter had a stroke trying to withdraw from heroin on her own. The danger of withdrawal depends on the addict’s overall health.

lili on February 15, 2012 at 8:40 AM

lili on February 15, 2012 at 8:40 AM

I am terribly sorry for your loss, and sorrier still if what I wrote caused any annoyance or discomfiture.

troyriser_gopftw on February 15, 2012 at 9:40 AM

And when the emotions cool it becomes important to get back to the important work of opposing American imperialism.

libfreeordie on February 14, 2012 at 6:17 PM

American imperialism? Don’t know much about history, do you? If you looked without ideological blinders, you would see the United States has been the greatest force for good in the history of the planet. Historically, few other nation-states have tried so hard to do right inasmuch as it’s been given us to know the right.

But hey, no worries. There’s a good chance one day soon you and yours will finally get your way and we’ll all learn to love the Big Mother of American Socialism, with all the authoritarian oppression, egalitarian poverty and mass misery that invariably comes with it. When the time comes, there’ll be plenty of teachable moments, believe me, in the way the current Chinese government considers a bullet to the base of a dissident’s skull a teachable moment.

troyriser_gopftw on February 15, 2012 at 9:55 AM

I am terribly sorry for your loss, and sorrier still if what I wrote caused any annoyance or discomfiture.

troyriser_gopftw on February 15, 2012 at 9:40 AM

My daughter is alive. She’s on methadone now, but methadone treatment has a high failure rate for her age–22. Heroin changes brain chemistry and that change can never be corrected. Younger addicts will inevitably return to the drug while still on methadone, and the combination will kill them. I have read so many horrible comments on drug articles, like “Heroin addicts choose addiction, so let them die…” I understand where those comments come from, but understanding doesn’t make them easier to take. Your comment wasn’t offensive at all. :)

lili on February 15, 2012 at 10:45 AM

And when the emotions cool it becomes important to get back to the important work of opposing American imperialism.

libfreeordie on February 14, 2012 at 6:17 PM

Typical liberal–can’t stay on topic. But since you did change the subject, you may want to read up on ‘imperialism’ because you obviously have no idea what imperialism is.

zoyclem on February 15, 2012 at 11:57 AM

control for the taking.
PorchDawg on February 14, 2012 at 4:44 PM

their all ready on top of the problem. hippa laws mean nothing to the nanny. if people think heroin’s a problem now, wait tell grandma and grandpa cant get their pain meds. my doctor right now wont precribe perks or other pain meds because of the government. lets be real, why is it that people’s bodie’s are in such condition? could it be for all the ” back breaking work and the hours worked that cause such conditions?

svs22422 on February 15, 2012 at 12:31 PM

i was a huge fan of the “old” whitney, but she authored her own demise.

envycat on February 15, 2012 at 3:09 PM

Character is destiny.

Whitney Houston died as she did at the age she did and under the circumstances she did precisely because of who and what she chose to be. It isn’t a tragedy that a washed up drug addled former pop star died, but that the person she could have been, had she made better choices, never got to live.

Lee
http://www.tempeteaparty.org

leereyno on February 15, 2012 at 9:17 PM

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