Following the death of yet another celebrity from a drug overdose, we are once again left to wonder how such a talented and wealthy individual could succumb to such a fate. In my opinion, the answer to that question involves two factors.
First of all, as I discussed in my post Creativity & Depression, creative individuals often have manic-depressive tendencies, manifest by periods of high productivity alternating with episodes of inertia and despair; like other human traits, the intensity of these highs and lows vary widely among individuals. During the episodes of depression, some resort to alcohol or drugs to soothe the pain of self doubt; celebrities, facing the expectations of an adoring public, may be especially susceptible to this behavior.
On the other hand, addiction is a disease that affects all segments of human society; as the current epidemic of heroin use is demonstrating, drug addiction and overdose deaths are not limited to celebrities and inner city junkies. While the death of a celebrity is immediately flashed across the internet and covered by the national media, the great majority of overdose deaths are not brought to our attention. As a result, we tend to associate such tragic events with the world of actors, musicians and other celebrities and too often ignore the consequences of substance abuse and addiction within our own communities.