June 26 marks the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking and has been celebrated every year since its inception in 1987. The United Nations General Assembly specifically decided to dedicate a day to create awareness about the ever increasing menace of substance abuse and as an expression of its determination to strengthen action and cooperation to achieve the goal of an international society free of drug abuse.
Today on the occasion of the 31st observance of the day, let’s reflect on some popular celebrity deaths that only point to the magnitude to which drug abuse and alcoholism has taken root in the human psyche and contemporary society, and why it is even more necessary now to create massive mobilisation against the evil practice.
MICHAEL JACKSON, 2009
Superstar Michael Jackson died because of a fatal cocktail of medications in his system, most notably an excessive amount of the surgical anesthetic propofol that his physician Conrad Murray had administered and that Jackson frequently used to help him sleep.
HEATH LEDGER, 2008
The menacing ‘Joker’ unexpectedly passed away from a heroin addiction and accidental drug overdose that had induced a heart attack in him.
AMY WINEHOUSE, 2011
Winehouse was specifically addicted to drugs during the most part of her life and while her death was speculated to be brought about by alcohol overdose, it was later revealed that it was her previous addictions that had led to a massive seizure that eventually caused her death.
ELVIS PRESLEY, 1977
Though the legendary singer was reported as having passed away from a cardiac arrest, but autopsies indicate that 10 prescription medications were found on Presley’s body at the time of death, including codeine at 10 times the therapeutic level.
JIMI HENDRIX, 1970
Hendrix’s death was a case of acute asphyxia while intoxicated with amounts of a drug called the barbiturate and it was revealed later that the singer had consumed ‘a number of sleeping pills’ prior to being found unresponsive.
MARILYN MONROE, 1962
Perhaps the most common cause of celebrity drug overdose relates specifically to a sleeping pill overdose and one of the most popular celebrities of her time, Marilyn Monroe’s death also bordered on huge amounts of barbiturate found in her system.
Prince’s death was the result of a prescription drug overuse. The hitmaker relied on fentanyl to cure chronic pain and “exceedingly high” amounts of the synthetic opioid were found in Prince’s blood, liver, and stomach, which undoubtedly killed him.
WHITNEY HOUSTON, 2012
Cocaine overdose tragically claimed the life of this brilliant singer on the night before the 2012 Grammy Awards.
BRUCE LEE, 1973
An adverse reaction to a pain medication claimed the life of this martial arts enthusiast, who was suffering from a brain edema as a side effect of a prescription drug at the time of his death.
JOSEPH MCCARTHY, 1957
Though Hepatitis was outlined as the cause of death of the senator, medical experts believed that his condition, most probably, was exaggerated by his addiction to alcohol.
SIGMUND FREUD, 1939
The founder of psychoanalysis passed away from a fatal dose of self prescribed morphine to tide over his pain as his body was afflicted with cancer at the time of his demise.
JOSE FERNANDEZ, 2016
Athlete Jose passed away when he was just 24 years of age in a reckless boat accident when he was high on cocaine and had also reportedly been downing shots of tequila in moments prior to his death.