The recent celebrity death by illicit drug overdose of Cory Monteith could open the public’s eyes further to the damage done by the war on drugs.
Monteith was a talented, responsible, inspiring actor. While he’d been using since the age of 13, he’d been able to keep his head above water and stay productive and out of the street scene. He’d been to rehab only a couple of months before his overdose.
It’s commendable that Cory went to rehab. Drug addiction is a disease, just like cancer. What’s tragic is that he didn’t have a safe relapse option. When his ‘cancer’ returned, there was no physician he could go to that would support his choice to relapse vs maintain abstinence. He died alone in a hotel room, when he could have been given appropriate doses of his drug of choice by a regulating physician. In this day and age when we have rapid detox options, using or not using should be an option for those who have already started on the path.
Of course, the first time someone tries an addictive substance for recreational use or unsupervised self-medicating is never recommended. But after people have already been doing that and are already addicted, there should be far more options available for the course of the treatment path. The war on drugs is killing people by removing their constitutional rights to choice. It is pushing users like Cory Monteith and Heath Ledger into empty hotel rooms where no one will take away a desperate attempt for relief. If relief had been available legally and wasn’t blocked by the war on drugs, perhaps these two legendary people would still grace the planet.
It seems that people should have the choice to not only stop using drugs in a professional, regulated manner, but to relapse on them as well. Clearly, in the case of Cory Monteith, he made the decision to relapse. Because there are no harm reduction supports in place, he didn’t have the option of going to his doctor for a prescription for his drug of choice. He didn’t have the option of getting a professional opinion with a standardized method of delivery. He had to leave his family and loved ones, check himself into a hotel alone, and access the heroin on the street. Under the mistaken belief that his body could tolerate the same amount of drugs he’d used before rehab, it’s theorized that he accidentally took too much. This is an accident that could have been prevented if he could have legally accessed his drug of choice in the right amount.
Legalizing all drugs and implementing harm reduction measures for both using and detoxing could save the lives of not just celebrity drug users who overdose like Cory Monteith – who have the funds and resources to get the ‘best of the best’ help in drug and alcohol recovery, and yet, they still die – but the lives of our average substance user who’s gotten into uncharted territory, either with dosages, maintenance, drug interactions, or inability to prevent relapse.