The death of Cory Monteith from a dangerous heroin and alcohol combination may not seem like a big deal to parents. Sure, it's sad, and maybe you and your kids enjoyed watching him on Glee, so it will be a little bittersweet when the show returns to TV. But really, he's a 31-year-old man who you didn't know, so why should you care?
Because our kids watch him on TV?
You should care because Cory Monteith could be your kid.
Just look at him. Fresh-faced. Clean cut. Cory Monteith was every teenage boy in America. That's exactly why he was chosen to play Finn Hudson on Glee.
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But Cory Monteith was also a heroin addict who started doing drugs at just 12 or 13.
He was a high school dropout at 16. He first went to rehab at 19.
To look at his face, to look at his career, you wouldn't know it. He had it together; he had success. But this is the reality of addiction: it crosses gender, race, socio-economic backgrounds.
A clean cut every boy could just as likely be the next kid to fall prey to heroin as the teen whose look tells you to "walk faster" when you spot them hanging out in the alley.
This is why parents should care about Cory Monteith's death, because he is the face of every teenage boy in America and the face of heroin at once.
According to a recent study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), there's been an 80 percent increase in first use of heroin by teens since 2002. Eighty percent. That's huge.
It points to the availability of heroin and also to a decrease in the fear of the disease. I grew up in a small town where marijuana was prevalent but heroin was both foreign and terrifying. We were scared of heroin; we didn't want to get it.
Today, the SAHMHSA study indicates that kids who might have stolen their parents' prescription medicines in the past are now shifting to heroin. They're not scared of it. They're seeking it out.
And parents should be watching.
But if you don't think Cory Monteith's death from a heroin overdose is something to be concerned about, will you be watching? Will you see it if it happens to your kid?
Are you shocked by what's happened to Monteith? Did he seem like the typical heroin user to you?
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