The Loss of Cory Monteith

Cory Monteith
(Photo by s_bukley/

It happens all too often, and now it has happened again. Only a short time will go by before the news headlines are again covered with reports that another Hollywood star has died from drug overdose. This has been happening for decades, and the most recent occurrence involves Cory Monteith, star of the hit television series Glee. The 31-year-old actor was found dead on July 13th in a hotel room in downtown Vancouver. It is believed that he was alone at the time of his death in the early hours of a Sunday morning, and his death was ascribed to overdose on heroin and alcohol poisoning. While Mr. Monteith’s death was shocking to his fans and many people worldwide, it was not entirely surprising given his history of struggles with drug abuse. By his own admission, Monteith had been battling addiction beginning with alcohol and marijuana at age 13, a situation that led to him dropping out of school at 16. He checked into rehab several times throughout the course of his adult life, with the first time being when he was 19, and the most recent stint being a one-month stay in April of this year. After checking out of rehab only months ago, Monteith expressed optimism about his future and ostensibly was hopeful of being able to live sober.

Indeed, Mr. Monteith had much to be happy about. He had a lead role on one of the top shows on TV and a devoted fanbase. He was beginning to expand his career onto the big screen and had even recently played a role which gave him an opportunity to exorcise some of his demons from his past of living as an addict. In fact, he had to convince the director of the as-yet unreleased film, since the part was originally envisioned for an actor with a grittier look, whereas Monteith’s appearance was more that of an athlete based on his role as a teenage jock on Glee. According to reports from the direct, however, Monteith performed exceedingly well in the role and appeared to experience considerable cathartic relief during filming in being able to act out the role of an addict. By all accounts, he had a promising career ahead of him as a film star, had it not been cut short by drugs and alcohol.

Taking Valuable Lessons from a Tragedy

Cory Monteith’s death serves as a tragic reminder of how important it is for an addict to receive effective treatment without delay. An overdose can happen at any time and without warning, taking the person away forever and giving friends and family no opportunity to say goodbye. Individuals who die from a heroin overdose, as in the case of Monteith, typically fall unconscious due to the drug’s effects in slowing down areas of the central nervous system. As this process continues, the person’s body stops breathing and then dies. A similar process occurs in cases of an overdose on opiate painkillers such as hydrocodone (Vicodin) and oxycodone (Percocet/OxyContin), drugs that are essentially cousins to heroin. These drugs now kill around 15,000 Americans on yearly basis, more than both cocaine and heroin combined, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Another important lesson from the death of Mr. Monteith has to do with finding an effective rehab program. It is impossible for any rehab center to guarantee results, but if you are searching for a program for yourself or for a loved one, you have a right to insist on seeing some type of documentation of just exactly how effective the program is.

Glossy advertising or the promise of a luxury spa experience during rehab may be attractive, but they are worth nothing unless they are backed up by results. Find the center that has the best evidence of success, since the only program you should choose is the one that is least likely to be followed by a relapse like the one that Mr. Monteith experienced.


Sue Birkenshaw

Sue has worked in the addiction field with the Narconon network for three decades. She has developed and administered drug prevention programs worldwide and worked with numerous drug rehabilitation centers over the years. Sue is also a fine artist and painter, who enjoys traveling the world which continues to provide unlimited inspiration for her work. You can follow Sue on Twitter, or connect with her on LinkedIn.