So I wasn’t planning on writing about this topic today, but I thought it was necessary given all the media about it. Just a couple days ago Cory Monteith from Glee died in a hotel room with the cause of death being mixed drug toxicity – alcohol and heroin. It’s always sad when another person passes, but especially when it is as a result of alcohol and drugs.
But let’s not just talk about how sad this is, but let’s use it to understanding something greater. Alcoholism, drug addiction, and addictive behaviors are everywhere. Chances are that you or someone you know has or had a problem with it at some point in their life. If it is you that has been struggling with addiction, then this is just another lesson that you are not alone. Cory’s story may be a reflection of your own. He opened up a couple years ago to Parade about how his problems with drugs and alcohol began at age 13 and had been in and out of rehab following that. To put that in perspective, that’s around 7th or 8th grade. Cory said he began skipping school to get drunk and smoke pot.
There’s something to be said for starting to use alcohol and drugs early. An early age at first drink has been shown to increase your likelihood of having alcohol-related problems about twice as high as those who start later (Fergusson et al., 1994). Research study after research study highlights the impact this early onset can have on later problems and Cory’s story is no different. It’s not to say that if you start early, you will have problems later, but there is definitely an increased risk. What is going on in your life, your friend’s life, your brother’s life, your mother’s life, for them to have started so early? Was it peer influence? Family influence? There’s a ton of reasons that could answer the “why” piece. For Cory, who knows what it was? But each person has their own reasons why they start, why they continue, and hopefully why they stop. The key is to figuring out the answer to all 3.
An early age at first drink has been associated with a ton of other things including other drug use, conduct disorder, which includes things such as lying, fighting, stealing, skipping school and many other things (McGue et al., 2001). Cory even talked about several of these things in that interview, such as skipping school, stealing money, etc. When I talk about this conduct disorder, I’m just talking about a risk factor – things that might raise yellow or red flag. Maybe it’s something that resonates with you or someone you know, but what’s for sure is that each person has their own story.
There is a truth inside everyone that causes them to make the choices that they make and who knows what it was for Cory. But what is it for you? Is there a part of you that identifies with his story? Is there a choice that you can make today to put yourself on a healthier path? You don’t have to be using heroin to see long-standing patterns in your life. They may not have all put you in rehab, but maybe there is something in your life that keeps coming back as much as you try to fight it – whether it’s a feeling or a behavior.
Rubin Khoddam, Clinical Psychology PhD student at University of Southern California, founder of Psych Connection.
Follow us on Twitter
Like us on Facebook