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Sara Bellum

This past weekend, Hollywood was shocked by news of “Glee” star Cory Monteith’s unexpected death. He was only 31 years old.

Back in April, SBB talked about Cory returning to rehab to deal with drug abuse issues that plagued him off and on since his teen years. Unfortunately, autopsy results showed that Cory died of a heroin and alcohol overdose, highlighting in the most tragic way how drug addiction often follows a cycle of recovery and relapse.

From the accounts of people who knew and worked with Cory, he sounds like he was a really great person—a loyal friend and devoted actor. It goes to show that drug addiction doesn’t just happen to “bad” people like some may believe. All types of people—rich and poor, man and woman, old and young—are equally at risk to be hurt if they start using drugs.

The Danger of Relapse

Relapse happens when a person who was addicted to drugs stops taking them for a while and eventually starts up again. Often, people who are recently out of rehab overdose more easily if they relapse because being off the drug for a while lowers their tolerance. They may take the same dose they were accustomed to before rehab and their bodies can’t handle it.

Heroin is especially dangerous. Not only is heroin a strong drug, but every dose a person buys may be a different purity, or strength. So even if a person takes the same amount of heroin, it might be so strong that he or she overdoses.

The fact that Cory had both heroin and alcohol in his system when he died highlights another important fact: Mixing substances is never a good idea. Heroin and alcohol both slow down breathing and heart rate, making the mix particularly hazardous.

A person who is overdosing can be saved if they get medical care in time, since symptoms of overdose are clear—shallow breathing, weak pulse, and loss of consciousness, for example. But if a person is alone at the time, as Cory was, overdose can result in death.

Cory Monteith was a talented actor and singer with millions of young fans. Now is the time for teens to ask questions about drug addiction and overdose—so let us know in comments if you have any and we’ll be happy to answer them.

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.


can people like cory really heal from the illicit drug use? and how? i want to save people like cory if i could, people like him need our help

@astrid The short answer is yes, people can overcome addiction, but it’s not easy and like other diseases it takes constant work to avoid relapse. Drug addiction is a brain disease and takes treatment and dedication to overcome. You can learn more about how drugs and addiction impact the brain on the NIDA for Teens Web site.

Figuring out what to do when a friend or someone you know is having trouble with drugs or alcohol can be tricky. You want to help, but you might not know how to bring it up. Here are some tips.

Listen. If he or she talks to you, just be there for him or her. Admitting a problem—never mind talking to someone about it—is really hard. Listen to what he or she has to say about his or her drug use without making judgments.

Encourage. Suggest that he or she talk to an adult he or she trusts.

Share. Maybe your friend doesn’t see his or her drug use as a bad thing. But plenty of real scientific information about what drugs can do to a person is on the NIDA Web site. Once your friend understands how drugs affect the brain, body, and life, it might open his or her eyes.

Inform. When he or she is ready to make a change and seek treatment, help him or her find a doctor, therapist, support group, or treatment program. You can use SAMHSA’s Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator or call 1–800–662–HELP.

Support. Don’t give up on your friend, even if he or she isn’t ready to get help. Keep reaching out. Encourage him or her to get treatment, and support him or her along the way—that’s the best way to help someone you care about who is struggling with addiction.

There is just something about celebrities and drug abuse /overdose. Wonder what the correlation is?
The problem with Heroin relapse is that when the person starts using again they will often start off using the same dose they were using when they quit. But the body builds a tolerance to Heroin over time, and after a period of recovery a person's tolerance level goes back down. If they start off using the pre-recovery dose, this is now an overdose to their system and often leads to sudden death.
Who is responsible for giving him the drugs...are they Liable for his Death????
If someone has lupus and doesnt have a doctor or pain medications or insurance and has tried marijuana for the pain and has grown accustomed to it making them feel better. What would you say?

@jd  Even if marijuana makes a person feel better, it doesn’t mean it is good for them. Not only are they treating their pain symptoms at the expense of their mental functioning, they are exposing themselves to long-term health risks, including addiction. If they are an adolescent, they could permanently be lowering their IQ. Contrary to what many people say, marijuana is not medicine. Getting insurance and real medical treatment for their condition is the best alternative.

this is a very unfortunate event, Cory was a great singer/actor and it a massive shame that he be taking drugs and over dosing on drugs. If only drugs were nonexistent.
Aw man I loved Cory. He will be very missed
I miss Corey off of glee b/c he was a good actor and he will be missed
I miss Cory I cry every time I see an old glee TV shows with him in it. Lea michele must feel like he's always there with her.
we miss you cory :( you will truely be missed
i miss him he was amazing who ever gave him heroine will pay (also he was cute)