Is Michael Jackson’s Death a Wake Up Call?

gil kerlikowske2

In an interview with Wolf Blitzer, Gil Kerlikowske called Michael Jackson’s death a “wake up call about prescription drugs”.  I guess. Is anyone confused about this? Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, Judy Garland, Anna Nicole, Heath Ledger, Chet Baker, Jean-Michele Basquit, Lenny Bruce, Kurt Cobain, (is America awake yet?), Chris Farley, River Phoenix, Jimi Hendrix (now? Now is America awake? Must have hit the snooze button), Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Chris Penn, Charlie Parker, Freddie Prinze, Dee Dee Ramone, Sid Vicious, Hank Williams. Arguably none of these other people were as famous as Michael, maybe Marilyn Monroe, but wouldn’t these other drug related deaths be wake up calls? Are we so loaded that even with a wake up call we go right back to sleep.

            The problem with the wake up call idea is that it implies that chemical dependency is a lesson to learn.  That the answer to this complex health issue is ‘education”. Kerlikowske has been quoted as saying “addiction is a disease”. Wake up calls make no sense. It’s really pretty offensive. If Jackson had died of Leukemia would Kerlikoske call it a “wake up call”? No, no he wouldn’t. That would imply that he was “at fault” and “deserved” his death. If this serves as a wake up call the wake up is to us that we still don’t think of addiction as a diagnosable disease!


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