Whitney Houston’s Substance Abuse and Early Death at Age 48
Once the fresh faced and supernaturally talented queen of R'n'B pop, two decades of alcohol, crack and marijuana addiction left her haggard and erratic - with her once powerful multi-octave voice reduced to a raspy shadow of its former glory.
How do you hit rock bottom when you’ve got an estimated $100 million to insulate you from the consequences of your actions and to fuel decades of extravagant drug use?
For Whitney, money and fame offered no salvation from her personal demons, though she tried on multiple occasions to overcome her addictions and though she endured tabloid mockery after a number of bizarre public appearances and disappointing performances over the last decade.
Whitney Houston: Battled Years of Addiction
- 1963 – Whitney Houston is born into a musical family to singer mother Cissy Houston. She is also cousins with Dionne Warwick and goddaughter to Aretha Franklin.
- 1983 - Signed by mentor Clive Davis of Arista Records, who saw the 20 year old Houston singing at a nightclub and signed her on the spot.
- 1985 – Releases her first album ‘Whitney Houston’. It remains the biggest selling debut album by a female artist of all time.
- 1987 – ‘Whitney” her second album hits the charts and goes on to sell 25 million records.
- 1989 – Meets Bobby Brown
- 1992 – Marries Bobby Brown
- 1992 – Stars in the movie ‘The Bodyguard’.
- 1995/1996 – Stars in the movies ‘The Preachers Wife’ and ‘Waiting to Exhale’. In a 2009 Oprah interview Houston reveals that by the time she is filming these movies she has become a daily cocaine user.
- Jan 11 2000 – Airport security guards find marijuana in her luggage in Hawaii but her plane leaves before authorities can arrive
- 2004 – Whitney goes to rehab after Clive Davis threatens to cut her out of Arista Records if she doesn’t get help
- 2006 – Photos of Houston’s squalid home bathroom hit the internet. Pictures full of drug paraphernalia and old beer cans paint a depressing picture of her drug and alcohol use.
- 2006 – Whitney again goes to rehab on Davis’s prompting, spending months in a Pennsylvania residential addiction treatment facility. After rehab, she works intensely with a sober coach who has her move to LA to keep her away from using friends and family in New Jersey.
- 2007 – Whitney divorces Bobby Brown after a 14 year turbulent marriage characterized by drug use allegations, numerous arrests of Brown and allegations of spousal abuse.
- 2009 – Tells Oprah that she has beaten drugs for good.
- 2009 – Tries a comeback with the release of the album, ‘I Look to You’. The album goes platinum but her comeback tour is criticized for poor performances and odd stage-behaviors and her numerous tour-date cancellations fuel rumors that she is once again abusing drugs. She performs very badly in A Good Morning America concert to promote the album, sounding raspy and off key and failing to hit high notes.
- May 2011 – Whitney enters rehab for the third time
- Wednesday, Feb 8 2012 – Whitney checks into the Beverly Hills Hilton. Witness reports over the next few days have her drinking heavily in the hotel bar and appearing sweaty and disheveled and smelling of liquor and cigarettes at a pre Grammy rehearsal.
- Saturday, Feb 11 2012 - Houston found dead in a bathtub in her hotel room. Although toxicology reports will take some time, because she was seen drinking heavily in the days prior to her death and because she had prescriptions in her room for drugs like Xanax, experts speculate that she could have passed-out from a combination of these substances and drowned in the tub or could have overdosed and died before submerging.
Where would she be today had she gotten help a few years sooner? Could anyone have saved her back when things weren’t so out of control?
We’ll never know what might have been had she taken steps to get help before things got so crazy, but we can remember her for what she once was, look to her descent from the top as a lesson on the costs of addiction and use her tragic end as a chilling reminder of just how dangerous these substances can be.
Whitney Houston - here's hoping you've found the peace that eluded you in this life and that you are remembered for your gifts and achievements and not for your very human frailties.
Here is some important information for those of you who want to get off Xanax. We encourage you to seek professional help now.
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