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Addiction grabs hold, steals another young life

Jan Hearne • Jul 22, 2013 at 9:30 AM

Cory Monteith, the star of “Glee,” died July 13 alone in a Vancouver hotel room at the age of 31. On Tuesday, the British Columbia coroner said the young actor died from a toxic combination of heroin and alcohol.Apparently Monteith had been battling drug addiction since he was a teenager. His most recent stint in rehab was in April.Unfortunately I’ve had a ringside seat to addiction. A former roommate went from drinking beer to getting high to shooting up heroin by the time she was 19. I watched helplessly as a new acquaintance introduced a number of my friends to IV drugs. They were 19 or 20 years old, and I didn’t understand why he wanted these kids to join him in what should have been his private hell. (He became addicted in Vietnam.)My friend’s addiction seemed to come out of nowhere. She was athletic and a bit of a daredevil, but she came from a good family who loved her. Of course kids from some of Knoxville’s “finest” families ended up on IV drugs, but I never expected my roommate to turn to heroin and morphine. I wasn’t there to stop her when she first put a needle in her arm. I’m not sure that I could have. I certainly couldn’t stop her once she got into it. Her life became hideous.My former roommate was one of the lucky ones. She realized she was in trouble, went through rehab and turned her life around — but not before tearing our friendship apart. Some of the others got it together, too; some died.From my vantage point, 31 seems so young. When I think more than half of Monteith’s life was spent struggling with drugs, I have deep sympathy for the young man.I am not a big “Glee” fan. I watched it for awhile when it first came out, mostly at the urging of coworkers and because I do love big, dramatic musical numbers. Though not the most gifted vocalist on the show, Monteith was charming as the naive Finn Hudson, and he was loved by his fans. Monteith’s sad story apparently began before he achieved fame. His addiction was rooted in his childhood perhaps or maybe his genetic makeup, and though his life will be dissected in the coming weeks, it is really none of my business.When I heard the news of his death, I thought of Neil Young’s lyrics “I’ve seen the needle and the damage done.” I saw it in my youth; it breaks my heart to see another generation ensnared. I wonder about the person who gave or sold Monteith his last fix — and his first. Do they feel the least bit guilty? Or do they consider it the price of doing business?At 31, Cory Monteith had so much ahead of him. We could say he had everything to live for, but the prospect of living with an addiction he couldn’t kick may not have looked like much of a life to him.Jan Hearne is the Press Tempo editor. Reach her at jhearne@johnsoncitypress.com.

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