Cory Monteith (Glee): Another Tragic Substance Abuse Ending
Cory Allan Michael Monteith played the roll of Finn Hudson, jock turned show-tune singer in Fox’s hit television series Glee. Born in Calgary, Canada, and raised in Victoria, Canada, Monteith was a troubled teen with a substance abuse problem from age 13. After an intervention by family and friends, he entered drug rehabilitation at age 19 and began rebuilding his life. On March 31, 2013, the media announced that Monteith had admitted himself into a treatment facility. A source says the actor spent time at the Betty Ford Center in California and at the Crossroads Centre, a drug and alcohol addiction rehab center in Antigua.
More than a decade after beginning his first rehab stint, he had come full circle to where he had been at 19 years of age: lost, drug addicted, and looking for answers. In a statement dated July 16, 2013, British Columbia Coroners Service confirmed that Monteith had been found dead at age 31 in his hotel room just days earlier on July 13th. The Glee actor “died of a mixed drug toxicity, involving heroin and alcohol [.] It should be noted that at this point there is no evidence to suggest Mr. Monteith’s death was anything other than a most-tragic accident.” The sobering words of yet another young man coming to his tragic end by way of a drug overdose. Monteith tragically found no peace or rest in this life, even with all the money, fame, top rehab facilities, and people to help.
As shocking as it sounds, it is estimated that 100 dead bodies are found daily due to overdoses in the United States, with this number only increasing every year.
Consider this alarming statistic from The Los Angeles times:
“Fatal drug overdoses have increased for the 11th consecutive year in the United States, new data show. According to a research letter from the National Center for Health Statistics, 38,329 people died of drug overdoses in the United States in 2010, an uptick from the previous year and the latest sign of a deadly trend”
As the trend continues upward, who are the people using this illicit drug? Dr. Richard Clark, an emergency room physician and director of toxicology at the University of California San Diego Medical Center, told NBC News:
“The stereotypical user on the street? That’s the past as far as heroin use in the U.S. is concerned. Lots of people are using it these days – kids, teenagers, white-collar workers.”
Caleb Banta-Green, a research scientist at the University of Washington School of Public Health said that Monteith “is what a heroin user looks like.” Would you ever think that someone like Monteith, a good looking, famous, wealthy actor, is what a heroin user would look like? I know we usually think of the homeless man with the needle in his arm when thinking of a heroin user, but unfortunately that is not what is going on today. It’s become harder and harder to tell just who is actually using.
The scariest trend to date is that first time users are getting younger and younger. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, initiations to heroin have increased 80 percent among 12- to 17-year-olds since 2002. In 2009, 510 young adults between the ages of 15 and 24 died of a heroin overdose. With 198 deaths in 1999 that means that young adults dying of heroin use has more than doubled in a decade.
While these trends should floor and sadden each and every one of us, let us remember that this problem has been sneaking under our noses for quite some time. Think of just a short list of rock stars that have fallen from heroin use alone. 1960’s rock queen Janis Joplin, found dead in a hotel in Los Angeles at the age of 27 due to a heroin overdose. Three years after that, The Doors front man, Jim Morrison, was found dead on an alleged heroin overdose. More recently, Grammy winning artist Amy Winehouse, who exclaimed “They tried to make me go to rehab I said no, no, no” in her 2006 hit “Rehab,” overdosed on heroin in 2007 before ultimately dying of alcohol intoxication in 2011. All this shows us that money and fame mean nothing when you are hopelessly addicted to drugs. Drugs do not care if you are black or white, rich or poor, famous or not. They are tragically devouring our country, grabbing hold at younger and younger ages.
But what is the reason everyone seems to turn to drugs? Why do all these movie and music stars seem so depressed on the inside, underneath the public smiles they beam on the outside?
Transformers star Shia LaBeouf gave a telling interview to Dotson Radar of Parade Magazine back in June 2009. In it he stated:
“Sometimes I feel like I’m living a meaningless life. I know I am one of the luckiest dudes in America right now. I have a great house. My parents don’t have to work. I’ve got money. I’m famous. But it could all change, man. It could go away. You never know…Why am I an alcoholic? I haven’t a (expletive) clue! What is life about? I don’t know.”
Of his anxieties, he readily admits:
“Most actors on most days don’t think they’re worthy. I have no idea where this insecurity comes from, but it’s a God-sized hole. If I knew, I’d fill it, and I’d be on my way.”
LaBeouf even admits that most actors share the same anxiety he does. It may come as a surprise to find that many of the celebrities who most of the world believes “have it all” are really just attempting to fill their void with fame, fortune, women, and even drugs.
It is much like the famous king of Israel around 970 BC. Solomon had everything any modern day celebrity could want and more. He had all the riches a man could have, all the fame, all the wisdom, and most of all, all the women. Solomon had 1,000 women as either brides or concubines, used for his pleasure. But he learned:
“If a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years, however many they be, but his soul is not satisfied with good things and he does not even have a proper burial, then I say, ‘Better the miscarriage than he’” (Ecclesiastes 6:3).
Solomon learned that at the end of the day, where you spend eternity is all that matters. In the beginning and end of his book of Ecclesiastes, which aimed to give an answer to the age-old question “What is the meaning of life?” Solomon stated, “Vanity of Vanity all is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 1:2,12:8). In English the word vanity usually is speaking of excessive pride in oneself or in one’s appearance, conceit and arrogance. But when King Solomon wrote this in Hebrew, the word he used was “hebel.” The roots of the word hebel indicate vapor, fog, steam, breeze or breath, meaning that everything in this life is quickly passing, like a mere breath. Solomon was saying that this is what our present life is compared to eternity.
Sadly, far too many people trade things in this rapidly passing life for their eternal souls. Jesus asked, “What does it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?” (Matthew 16:26). This life is so short compared to eternity, and the choices we make affect the outcome of where we will spend eternity forever. So how do you fill that God-sized hole that the world’s biggest celebrities bemoan? With a relationship to the One who made you, that’s how. The bible says that you are fearfully and wonderfully made, that He knit you together in your mother’s womb, that He knows when you rise up and when you lie down. We are incomplete inside the depths of our being without the God who created us, dwelling in us. The bible says that believers are the temple of God. The people of Christ are His body. We were bought with a price, no higher price because it was literally the blood of our God! So if we do not look to Him as not only our Author, but also the Finisher of our faith and life, we will live an empty life…searching for other things to fill the void.
Jesus said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38). So instead of being a bucket full of holes that constantly needs to be filled with other “things,” you will have rivers of living water flow from your innermost being. You will taste of the heavenly gift, and be filled with the Holy Spirit of God. “The conclusion, when all has been heard,” Solomon concluded “is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).