By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – The untimely passing of Whitney Houston is one of those rare news stories that’s bound to give just about everyone pause.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

Pop music stars don’t always cross generational boundaries, but Whitney Houston did.

Her first big hit was in 1985, her last just three years ago.

If there was a man or woman alive who didn’t already admire her incredible voice and delivery, they were surely reached by her performance of the National Anthem at the 1991 Super Bowl.

As Michael Brodeur of the Globe wrote over the weekend, Houston’s rendition found “perfect balance….No histrionic experimentation, no self-indulgent runs, no wardrobe malfunctions or backing tracks — just Whitney, singing a song we all know by heart and, in doing so, reminding us why it lives there in the first place.”

Add to her talent and artistic taste her physical beauty, wealth, acclaim, solid family background, generous philanthropy, and trailblazing historical status, and we are all left to contemplate a disturbing question – how could someone who had it all let it all be taken away by substance abuse?

This is, sadly, a question that gets asked every day across the country as we suffer through the carnage of drug addiction and abuse.

Sometimes it seems as if it’s such a common tragedy that we’ve become almost used to it, passive about it, less likely to see the battle against it as a war requiring resources and conviction.

Illegal use of prescription drugs is on the rise – so, not coincidentally, are drug-related deaths.

Dealing with that costs money we don’t seem eager to spend.

But the death of Whitney Houston should tell anyone who takes note of it that no one is outside the reach of drug abuse.

Not talented, well-educated kids from good families, not super-rich singing stars, no one.

It just took someone you probably admired, and that should give you pause.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

Comments (42)
  1. FireGuyFrank says:

    Sad story. Folks frequently think that substance abuse is something easy to overcome. That said, as of this writing, we do not know for sure whether any foreign substance was responsible for Whitney Houston’s death.

    Now one of my pet peeves in these stories — “untimely death”. Has anyone ever had a well timed death? Aren’t all innocent deaths tragic? The media talk of a “senseless murder” as if there could be a murder that makes sense.

    Sorry to bring this in the shadow of Ms. Houston’s passing, but this is the forum.

    1. cometothinkofit says:

      “Consummate professional” is a description which bothers me.

  2. DoverDavid says:

    I always find it interesting that these people seem to be surronded by loving family and friends, and yet no one ever seems to take action and do something for these people, regardless of if they want it or not. It just seems that so many seem suprised, shocked or are in tears although they are closest and see the person perhaps daily and in most cases, seem to wait until it’s too late.

    1. Italo says:

      This is very untrue, and perhaps this is a sign of a perspective here that has not experienced this. An immediate member of my family was someone who endured a situation similar to Miss Houston’s. We tried, we intervened, we accompanied, we talked the walk, we listened, we reached out. But if the person themselves chooses not to respond to the interventions that do happen from many of these loved ones, or else that person for some reason cannot do so, no amounts of love and intervention in the world are going to make such a possible turnaround happen. Over the years, I have come to grow very weary of hearing Monday-morning quarterbacks say that they believe it appears that such help from close ones seems to wait to occur until it’s too late. Rather, ironically, I look at these others and feel that when they come to such conclusions without prior same experience or knowledge, it’s they who represent the part of our society which has become aware of this problem in our society too late, and don’t think of the similar things that they could contribute in their own communities to help these kinds of lives be reached out to, redirected and helped. It’s very easy to judge, even if not intended harmfully so, when one is not affected by this disease and can walk away from it all at the end of the day–whereas the person affected, and their loved ones equally struggling, exhausted, and decimated around the person–cannot.

  3. Mark Scanlon says:

    Yes they are safe….It all depends on with whom you surround yourself with. The people around all celebs are just greedy and irresponsible.

    Alll of us are sad when it’s happening and even sadder when it finally happens.

  4. KathyD says:

    David, as someone who has had a close family member die from substance abuse, I can tell you that there’s only so much you can do. We did everything humanely possible including late-night bar crawls looking for our missing loved one. We worked with doctors and then lawyers when things went bad. Still, he was found in his bed, dead of a combination of prescription drugs and alcohol.

    He was a superstar in our family but still couldn’t be saved. Part of it was mental illness, the other part a horrible sense of his own worth.

    In the end, his family has no regrets as far as our effort goes. But the regret that we couldn’t be superhuman still lives on.

    1. Italo says:

      Amen, Kathy. Please pat yourselves on the back. Sounds like this loved one has equally loving ones around him who obviously cared and tried to help very much. Bless him, as well as all of you for what you tried to do to the reasonable best of your only human abilities.

  5. tsalnew says:

    KathyD – I’m so sorry for your loss. David – it dosn’t matter what the family or friends do, only the person can help himself/herself. If he doesn’t want to, no amount of force or encouragement or love can help.

    1. dan says:

      on a brighter side..did you try the wing recipe i gave you for the superbowl???

      1. tsalnew says:

        Hi Dan – tried it – loved it and have saved it – thank you!!! What’s not to love about good and easy! Was one of few good things about the day :(

  6. Chic says:

    She was truly a star, her music was beautiful. But if I hear that song, “I will always love you”, one more time I’m taking my TV out with a sledgehammer

    1. dan says:


  7. WesWelkerFan says:

    Whitney Houston dead at 48. Micheal Jackson dead at 50. Yet Ozzy Ozbourne & Keith RIchards are still alive!!!!! What’s wrong with this picture? Aparently Mr. Keller, these two Rock-n-Roll drug addicts are safe. They are either extremely LUCKY or just a couple of Zombies from the nether world.

    1. jaygee says:

      Very good point. One has to wonder how some keep going while most of the others die at a young age.

    2. George Bush says:

      Whitney and Micheal both died from legal prescription drugs. Ozzy and Keith did tons of illegal drugs and still are alive.
      Stop the government propaganda and at least legalize marijuana, nobdy ever dies from that.

      1. gramps says:

        The ‘Stem Cells & DNA’ of Ozzy Ozbourne & Keith RIchards, MUST be the ‘Rosetta Stone’s’ to defeat all known disease!

        Who needs ‘Obamacare’!


        Legalize ‘Industrial Hemp’!….Per: G. Washington, T. Jefferson, H. Ford & A. Einstein…..

        Read this.

  8. dan says:

    wes wellker droopppped the ball ….no superbowl for us

  9. Cindy says:

    I’m pleased your commentary separated Whitney’s time and talent’s from drug addiction. We should be celebrating her life while trying to find solutions to what seems to be a growing epidemic.

    1. tsalnew says:

      You are right. However, a friend brought up the fact that we are celebrating her life but where is the celebration of the lives of those who fight to protect us daily and who lose those lives not through poor choices but to preserve the freedoms we all have? It was a comment that gave me pause. I’m not diminishing Whitney’s talent. She had an exceptional voice. But somewhere I feel there is an imbalance.

  10. jaygee says:

    People have been taking one form of drug or another for centuries, so this is nothing new. Fortunately, most of us have the common sense not to get involved in the first place. I can never understand how anyone can pick up a needle and inject anything into their veins or snort a substance that most know to be addictive but yes, it happens. Meth & crack are two of the worst. One comes from our southern neighbor and the other can be made right here in the good, old USA. What can be done about it………….not much! As I said, most won’t try it. Most won’t even try cigarettes so there is some hope.

  11. myteensavers says:

    I hope kids see Houston’s downward spiral and become determined not to end up like this. Myteensavers counselors treat teen addicts. We are seeing a disturbing patten of kids trying drugs at a younger age. More kids are abusing prescription drugs. Parents need to make sure their kids don’t end this way. The Houston tragedy is a good way to introduce the topic of drugs at home, if it hasn’t been discussed already. Parents could also utilize home drug tests to make sure that experimentation doesn’t turn into addiction.

  12. Willow says:

    Although I am saddened at the death of Whitney Houston, one has to realize that it’s a choice they make themselves when they can’t function without the crutch of a drug. Whether it be cigarettes, how many people die every day from lung cancer or other smoking related diseases, or alcohol and drugs. These are all individual and personal choices, not to mention drugs being against the law. As long as people can’t wake up in the morning without something to get them through their day, we will continue to read stories like this over and over. Just as a person begins to use on their own, they are the only ones who can decide if they want help to quit.

    1. JJ says:

      I quit drinking 17yrs ago because I accepted that I had a problem, still sober with the help of AA an awesome program and through the 12 steps of recovery. It bothers me when I hear these stories because there is a way out if you want it. I am almost certain this is how she died. The only person who could of got her sober was herself, a higher power and the help from AA OR NA. You can have a ton of money
      and be happy and sober. The person makes the choice.

      1. Willow says:

        JJ, you should be so proud of yourself. You found a way out and took it. My mother was an alcoholic and died at the age of 55. Alcohol kills just as much as drugs do. I pray you continue to speak out so that others may know that there is help if they want it, and they can be successful. God bless you!

  13. Betty says:

    Is anyone safe from drug abuse? Yes, everyone who has enough sense not to take drugs. It works every time. She chose to be an abuser and she sealed her own fate. It’s tragic for everyone around her, but she made her choice. I’ll save my sympathy for those who are innocent victims of accidents or disease.

    1. George Bush says:

      Lots of people become addicted to prescription drugs they may have needed like painkillers. Too bad that Oxycontin is legal and much safer marijuana is not.

      1. Dick Cheney says:

        Try easing the pain of a dying patient with marijuana. You wouldn’t say “too bad oxycontin is legal”.

      2. George Bush says:

        Dick, you are ignorant.
        My mom died of cancer, she was taking lots of morphine and still in pain. I gave her a medical marijuana drink and she said she felt much better and she ate some solid food for the first time in days. It certainly helped with the nausea that legal drugs for pain cause.

      3. GWB says:

        DC, you are ignorant.
        My mom died of cancer, she was taking lots of morphine and still in pain. I gave her a medical marijuana drink and she said she felt much better and she ate some solid food for the first time in days. It certainly helped with the nausea that legal drugs for pain cause. But big pharmacy salespeople don’t make any money to push anything natural.

      4. Stagle says:

        Wow, we have the official word from a flower child pot head who admits on this page to the illegal use of at least two drugs. Nice touch answering twice under two different names. Repetition doesn’t give nonsense credibility.

  14. nellie says:

    So she was human with human frailties. I pray for her and her family, and pray for those who have substance addictions.

  15. George Bush says:

    Parents should try out that Ritalin that they are feeding to their kids. It is like a cross between cocaine and Ecstasy to me. Yes, I tried both a few times in college so I know.
    Drug companies salespeople are the biggest drug pushers in America.

    I believe it will be announced that Whitney died from prescription Xanax mixed with the countries favorite and maybe most harmful drug of all, alcohol.

  16. kathleen casey says:

    Lets compare the number of drug & alcohol addicts in 2012 in the U.S. to the number of people completely addicted to highly processed food and high fructose corn syrup. It;s common to be 100 lbs. overweight. People shopping riding scooters. Almost all of our food is derived from corn. Heart disease & diabetes are rampant but people still eat this stuff. Addiction manufactured by U.S. food producers.

    1. George Bush says:

      That is a whole other discussion Kathleen. But I agree processed food is killing America, and corn syrup is not treated the same in the body as sugar, despite what the adds on TV paid for by the corn industry say.
      Well I just bought 80 bucks worth of groceries and the only thing even close to “processed” was a jar of salsa. I get more and better food not buying the chemical loafs that most people buy. Too bad the gardening season is so short in New England.

  17. Barnes says:

    Amen JJ. Good for you.

  18. kathleen casey says:

    There are long time programs in place to assist those with chemical addictions from AA to physicians & hospitals, but there is little to none for the morbidly obese & there codependent families. This epidemic created by American citizens,( corporations) greedy beyond reason are on the way to bringing our country to it’s knees. Highly processed foods/h.f.c.s. also effect your mental health. Corporate America have even trashed pet food, our cats & dogs are obese.

    1. Willow says:

      Kathleen, even if there were programs in place for help with the obesity epidemic in this country, how many people do you think would take advantage of it? Michelle Obama has been trying to get schools to prepare healthier foods for our school children and their parents are already on the bandwagon about their “rights” to feed their families the way they choose. There are already healthy foods out there in the supermarkets, but most people look for the shortcuts because it’s easier then making healthy choices, and cooking good food that might require a few minutes longer.

    2. gramps says:

      Take your ‘Little fat porkies & dogs’…..

      Out for a walk!


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s