A moving speech by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie about the need to treat substance addicts instead of jailing them has gone viral, shining a spotlight on the link between mass incarceration and drug policy in the United States.
In the speech, that has reached nearly 7 million views on just the Huffington Post’s Facebook page alone, Christie gives a heartfelt recollection of the addicts he has known in his life and urges policy makers to rethink criminalizing drugs and give people the tools they need to recover instead.
He described a close friend who, after a back injury, became addicted to the narcotic painkiller, Percocet, lost everything and finally died with an empty bottle of the drug and an empty quart of vodka next to him. The man was a successful lawyer.
“He was a drug addict, and he couldn’t get help, and he’s dead,” Christie said. “And when I sat there as the governor of New Jersey at his funeral, and looked across the pew at his three daughters sobbing because their dad is gone, there but for the grace of God go I. It can happen to anyone.”
Recent history is littered with talented people who didn’t get the help they needed with their addiction. Here are five people who died young because they lost their battles with addiction.
Whitney Houston: The power-singer and pop icon died in 2012 at the age of 48 after suffering an accidental drowning while under the influence of cocaine. Her toxicology report showed traces of prescription medications and open bottles of alcohol were also in the Beverly Hilton hotel room with her. Houston had entered rehab nine months earlier, but reportedly relapsed, with her friend and recovered addict Chaka Khan blasting the music industry for allowing the fragile artist to fly out to Los Angeles without someone to help her stay clean.
Amy Winehouse: The chanteuse with the famously sultry, contralto voice died of alcohol poisoning in 2011, five years after the tragically prescient song “Rehab” was released. Winehouse was only 27 years old. Postmortem reports say she was tormented by paparazzi during her downward spiral and forced to go on a disastrous final tour when it was clear she needed intensive medical treatment instead.
Michael Jackson: Jackson was known as the “King of Pop” because he set the standard in terms of musical trends and his dance choreography and precision. But it was no secret he was a troubled soul with a sad and painful childhood. In 2009, Jackson died at the age of 50. The singer died from an overdose of the anesthetic drug propofol. During the trial of his physician, Conrad Murray, who was later convicted of involuntary manslaughter, a doctor said he had requested the drug 10 years before his death because, apparently suffering from chronic insomnia, being under anesthesia was “the best sleep he ever had.”
Chris Farley: Known best for being noticeably — and perhaps dangerously — overweight while surprising audiences with his agile physical humor, the Saturday Night Live comedian and star of several ludicrously hilarious movies like “Beverly Hills Ninja” and “Tommy Boy” died in 1997 at the age of 33. Friends of the man famous for riffing off his weight with SNL characters like Matt Foley and the failed Chip’n Dale’s stripper said Farley was never sure if he was getting laughs just because he was fat, and his insecurities fueled a deadly drug and alcohol habit. He died in his apartment after a 4-day substance abusing binge.
Kurt Cobain: The lead singer and guitarist for one of recent history’s most influential and paradigm-changing rock bands, Nirvana, died in 1994 at the age of 27 by his own hand, but he had a long history of depression and drug use, notably heroin. Cobain died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, but heroin and and the depressant Valium were found in his system. He had recently returned home in Seattle from Rome after a failed suicide attempt.
Watch Christie’s speech, as posted by Huffington Post, here:
Chris Christie Makes Emotional Plea To Rethink Drug Addiction …“Somehow, if it’s heroin or cocaine or alcohol, we say, ‘They decided it, they’re getting what they deserved.'”(Read more here: //huff.to/1LQg27g)
Posted by HuffPost Politics on Friday, October 30, 2015