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Thursday, April 12, 2012

What REALLY Killed Whitney Houston?

With all due respect to the memory of Whitney Houston, these findings can be a useful tool for those fighting the epidemic of drug abuse. The famous singer died after a history of substance abuse.

Here Are the Official Conclusions
As To the Cause of Houston's Death:

"The police investigation of Whitney Houston's death is "officially closed" with the conclusion that her death was an accidental drowning, the Beverly Hills Police Department said Wednesday.

The Los Angeles County coroner released its autopsy report
a week ago saying Houston's February 11 death
was an accidental drowning
with the "effects of atherosclerotic heart disease
and cocaine use" as contributing factors."

(Alan Duke, "Whitney Houston Death Probe Closed; 911 Call Released," CNN, April 12 2012)

"There was water found in her lungs that indicated to us that she was alive when she was submerged underwater," coroner chief Craig Harvey told People Magazine. "According to our tests, the level of cocaine was not necessarily a lethal level of cocaine. But her death was complicated by chronic cocaine use and heart disease." (Ken Lee, "Whitney Houston Died of Accidental Drowning," People, March 22 2012)

Medical Experts On How
Houston's Death Transpired:

1. Cocaine:

* Evidence:

Coroner's investigator Kristy McCracken wrote invesigators found

(a)  "a small spoon with a white crystal like substance in it and a rolled up piece of white paper" in the bathroom where Houston drowned,
(b) "Remnants of a white powdery substance" on a bathroom counter,
(c) "Remnants of a white powdery substance from out of a drawer and from the bottom of a mirror in the same drawer in the bathroom counter."

* Effects of cocaine:

(a) Fatal arrhythmias (heart stops beating properly and fails to pump depriving the brain of oxygen and causing a loss of consciousness.) or vasospasm (narrowing of a blood vessel by tightening or spasm of the muscles which shuts off blood flow to the heart.)  

(b) Henry Spiller, a toxicologist and director of the Kentucky Regional Poison Control Center said. "Based on what is in the report, it seems more likely that she had a vasospasm (which shuts off blood flow to the heart) or a fatal arrhythmia."

* Toxicology findings:

(a) Toxicology testing measured 0.58 micrograms of cocaine per milliliter of blood drawn from a vein in her leg during the autopsy, which Dr. Drew Pinsky, an addiction medicine specialist, called a moderate level.

(c) Routine to high level. Spiller said for that level of cocaine to be in Houston's body, "we're talking about approximately half a gram of cocaine having been possibly ingested within 30 minutes to 90 minutes before her death. For someone who has been abusing cocaine, this may be their routine amount, but (for) someone who doesn't regularly use cocaine and therefore doesn't have a tolerance for the drug, this would be a high level."

2. Alcohol

* Evidence:

Investigators found empty beer bottles in Houston's room.

* Effects of alcohol use with cocaine:

Cocaine combined with a sudden drop-off in the Xanax level and a drop-off in alcohol consumption can cause seizure according to Dr. Drew Pinkskey.

* Toxicology findings:

Dr. Drew Pinskey said alcohol was not detected in Houston's body. Pinsky said. "Somebody who's now upside down in a bathtub could easily seize and drown."

3. Prescription sedative:

* Evidence:

 Investigators found an empty bottle of the anti-anxiety drug Xanax in Houston's room. 

* Effects of prescription sedatives with cocaine:

Spiller said that based on his experience with cocaine abusers, two things may have happened: Either Houston had a seizure and fell into the tub, or she had a cardiac arrhythmia. An arrhythmia occurs when the heart stops beating properly and fails to pump, depriving the brain of oxygen and causing a loss of consciousness. It can be fatal.

Toxicology findings:

(a) Henry Spiller, a toxicologist and director of the Kentucky Regional Poison Control Center, said, "The level of Xanax found in Houston's blood was not low enough to trigger a seizure. Those who abuse Xanax can take up to 20 pills a day, he said, and the level found in Houston's body would indicate she took four to six pills several hours before she died."

"Since the drug was found in her blood, a seizure brought on by withdrawal is unlikely," he said.

4. Other Evidence found:

(a) Detectives also found a "plethora of medications bottles" -- reportedly Valium, Lorazepam and more -- in the hotel room (Although the coroner concluded the prescription drugs "did not contribute to the death.")

(b) Along with cocaine and Xanax, the toxicology tests found other drugs in her body, including marijuana, the muscle relaxant Flexeril and the allergy medicine Benadryl, the report said.

Why People Should Read This Information:

By writing this entry, I am neither attempting to point a singular finger of blame nor to be morbid. It is evident Ms. Houston had problems, both physical conditions and anxieties related to her work, that had taken a devastating toll on her. She has now become another famous, young victim of tragic circumstances. Each of these celebrity calamities is unique in circumstance. But, what actually happened to each luminary represents vital information that can help save our generation and that of our children.

The fact is, we need to build better strategies of prevention and intervention to address these unnecessary deaths. Houston had entered rehab in 2004, again in 2005, and again in 2011. One lesson to be learned is that multiple rehabilitation is often needed to treat and control drug addiction.

In reality, one is never "cured" of the addiction -- help must be ongoing.

Another important lesson about addiction and dependency involves the downward spiral experienced by users. Over time the powerful drugs take control of the brain's reasoning center while offering temporary happiness and relief from pain. As users become more and more dependent upon drugs to experience "good times," their altered minds cannot accurately judge the potential dangers of their self-administered cocktails. The answer is to refrain from beginning drug use.

Think of the real message of this statement: "Whitney Houston's death was an ACCIDENTAL DROWNING." Simplicity of cause, in this case, breeds more ignorance and stifles the movement to change public opinion.
An accident can be defined by these two definitions:

a: "an unforeseen and unplanned event or circumstance," or  
b: "an unfortunate event resulting especially from carelessness or ignorance."

Which definition best fits the terrible accident suffered by Ms. Houston? If you tend to lean on the "unforeseen" version, I believe you should revisit the facts of her death. Far too many have fallen from "contributing factors" that we all know do far more than "contribute."

America needs brave celebrities to speak out about the failed lifestyles of those who have chosen to abuse substances. A credible witness must tell the truth, not a padded, partial tale fashioned to soften the blow, but the real truth, a non-biased, factual account free of selective modification. With proper dignity, celebrities who really care for their loved ones need to lead a new call to action and become important spokespeople in the war against drug abuse. And, these stars need to do it soon if they want to continue to hear the sweet refrains of young voices.


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