Drugs & Health Blog

Michael Jackson: News We'd Rather Not Have

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Sara Bellum

After the news hit about the death of Michael Jackson and all the speculation about his possible prescription drug use, the NIDA press office phones rang off the hook. Why? News reporters wanted information on prescription drug misuse and abuse.

We talked to the NIDA Communications Director, Carol Krause (pictured right), about how they handle calls like that.

Sara Bellum Blog (SBB): How many calls does NIDA get when news like this hits?

Carol: Well it depends on the celebrity and how definite the news is. With Anna Nicole Smith, speculation was immediate that drug abuse was involved, so we got a lot of calls from the press right away. With Heath Ledger, people weren’t so sure, and the inquiries came gradually, over a period of weeks.

SBB: And Michael Jackson?

Carol: Within a few hours of his death, the NIDA press office got maybe a dozen calls from major news reporters wanting information on prescription drug abuse. They were doing research in case toxicology reports came back saying that medication misuse contributed to the pop icon’s death.

SBB: And what do you tell them?

Carol: We treat this like any other inquiry. We give them facts. The fact is that between the years of 1999 and 2005, the number of accidental deaths from drug overdoses in this country more than doubled.

SBB: Really? Why?

Carol: The biggest problem is the increased misuse and abuse of prescription painkillers—opioid narcotics like Vicodin and OxyContin.

SBB: Is this a problem with teenagers?

Carol: Absolutely. For the past 5 years, 1 in 10 high school seniors have reported they use Vicodin without a prescription—1 in 20 have used OxyContin.

SBB: Why isn’t the press reporting this?

Carol: Oh they are. The question is—are teens listening?

SBB: I’d like to think teens are smart enough to know that using medications without a prescription can be dangerous. What is the take away lesson from Michael Jackson’s death?

Carol: That we don’t need a tragedy like this to learn how to make smart decisions about your health. The information you need is right here on the NIDA website.

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


I'm so happy to see that the government is commenting on a timely topic like this one--I'd hoped to see a response of this nature when Heath Ledger died last year. Thank you!

Added to my RSS, Thanks!

An excerpt from our recent article on Michael Jackson:

"Lest you be confused about this drug thing, there is little difference between illegal/recreational drugs, and prescription drugs, with the exceptions being the legitimacy of the “entity” which produces them, who gets to prescribe them, and whether politicians benefit. Drugs be drugs.

"Take it from some guys who matured (arguably) during the drugs, sex, and rock and roll years. We know lots of successful doctors, business people, family people, accountants, judges, and pillars of society who once used drugs in many a form and fashion. Fortunately for most of them and for society, they appreciated that drugs might be an interesting pastime, but not a life long journey."

The issue of prescription drug abuse needs to start with the physician prescribing. What do the physicians receive from prescribing the unnecessary and excessive drug prescriptions? This act of increasing our health care costs because the patients/clients are not able to care for themselves because of the toxic levels requires more healthcare and direct care providers, increasing the costs for each and every one of them. As a Bachelor of Science Registered Nurse can say from my experience, in the hospitals, long-term care and in homecare, it is happening everywhere. The bottom line is that physicians and the pharmaceutical companies are making billions. People need to be more reluctant to allow their physicians to prescribe the number of medications. With the prescription, it is legal, but it is unethical. The physician’s code of ethics states, "To do no harm".
It is difficult for me to work direct care nursing because it is against my principals and my nursing education to administer these medications, because it is excessive and often duplicating for the same diagnosis.
I hate to say this, but believe that some nurses are not practicing because of where we are with this issue, and no respect for our experience and education backgrounds.
spelling corrections, please delete the previous input, Drew

Why cant u let him rest in peace

hi i don t speak inglish but i tray michael jakson was a good singer and good person.

yeh right.. great post, Thank You

Do you realy think that

shut up...i don't think

Lest you be confused about this drug thing, there is little difference between illegal/recreational drugs, and prescription drugs, with the exceptions being the legitimacy of the “entity” which produces them, who gets to prescribe them, and whether politicians benefit. Drugs be drugs. [edit: had to remove link to consumer website--per rules.]

Do you realy think that

i believe that drugs are bad and i agree because its not safe

Prescription drug abuse is a problem in our country. The 2007 National Study of Drug Use and Health found that 70% of people who abuse prescription pain relievers indicated they got them from friends or relatives, and the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that upwards of 9 million people use prescription medication for non-medical uses.

The American Medicine Chest Challenge is a community based public health initiative, with law enforcement partnership, designed to raise awareness about the dangers of prescription drug abuse and provide a nationwide day of disposal – at a collection site or in the home - of unused, unwanted, and expired medicine that will be held on November 13, 2010 in communities across the country.

@American Medicine Chest You are so right: Rx abuse deserves our attention. 2009 results from the National Study of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), and NIDA's annual Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey of 8th, 10th and 12th graders confirm the scope of the problem.
- In 2009, there were 7.0 million (2.8 percent) persons aged 12 or older who used prescription type psychotherapeutic drugs nonmedically in the past month. These estimates were higher than in 2008 (6.2 million or 2.5 percent), but similar to estimates in 2007 (6.9 million or 2.8 percent).
-In 2009, there were 2.6 million persons aged 12 or older who used psychotherapeutics nonmedically for the first time within the past year, which averages out to around 7,000 initiates per day—most (2.2 million) for pain relievers.

-Nearly 1 in 10 high school seniors reported past year non-medical use of Vicodin, and 1 in 20 reported abusing Oxycontin, also a powerful opioid painkiller. Non-medical use of these painkillers has increased among 10th graders in the past five years.
-For the first time this year the survey measured the non-medical use of Adderall, a stimulant commonly prescribed to treat ADHD finding that more than 5 percent of 10th and 12th graders reported non-medical use of the drug in the past year.

He is the greatest entertainment of all time.
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Thanks for article. It's useful.

We all Hate Drugs . and it`s very harmful in Non-medical use
i`ve used my website lots of times against Drugs Abuse [commercial link removed, per guidelines]

It is but a very common case that whatever is prohibited, is most wanted.
People know the consequences, it's the quick relief they're most after, or the fastest cure to feeling NUMB that's just so hard to resist.

I love your blog,
keeping post more articles.



Wow, Very nice School blog :)

Thanks for your recommendations on this blog.
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yal need more info

nice post

He broke the law the fact he died of an overdose or whatever the case. The point is he was playing with fire and in the end it bit him [commercial link removed, per guidelines]
im doing school stuff for heroin can someone explain what it is...?

Hi @sexy beast,

You can find a lot of useful info about heroin here: ttp://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/heroin. Good luck with your school work.