From the moment we heard Scott Weiland, front-man for Stone Temple Pilots, died on December 3, we knew drugs played a role in his passing. We knew this because we had known of his battle with drugs and alcohol for almost as long as we had known the band itself. What we didn't know was the family he left behind and how they took the news. In a very powerful letter published in Rolling Stone, the mother of his teenage children speaks on behalf of Noah, 15, and Lucy, 13. In it she says, "December 3rd, 2015 is not the day Scott Weiland died. It is the official day the public will use to mourn him, and it was the last day he could be propped up in front of a microphone for the financial benefit or enjoyment of others. The outpouring of condolences and prayers offered to our children, Noah and Lucy, has been overwhelming, appreciated and even comforting. But the truth is, like so many other kids, they lost their father years ago. What they truly lost on December 3rd was hope."
It's a letter that sums up not only the loss, but the struggle of living with someone, loving someone and being connected parentally to someone who could not give up his addiction. It tells the story of a father who chose drugs over his children, saying painfully gripping things like, "They can't remember the last time they saw him on a Father's Day. I don't share this with you to cast judgment, I do so because you most likely know at least one child in the same shoes. If you do, please acknowledge them and their experience. Offer to accompany them to the father-daughter dance, or teach them to throw a football. Even the bravest girl or boy will refrain from asking for something like that; they may be ashamed, or not want to inconvenience you. Just offer - or even insist if you have to." What Weiland lost was his life, but long before that he lost his family to his vices, his demons.
Like so many rock stars before him, Weiland lost his life because of substance abuse problems. His death, along with the deaths of so many musicians, writers, actors, artists, raises the question: Do creative people turn to drugs more than others?
As reported in the L.A. Times, "'We see it too often,' said Neil Portnow, president of the Recording Academy, which in 1989 established its MusiCares Foundation to provide a wide range of services to musicians in need. Through MusiCares' MAP Fund, established in 2004, treatment programs and sober living are accessible to those who wrestle with addiction."
Portnow says the why could be because of the line of work these people choose to be in. "It's not unusual for someone who has substance problems that the toughest time for them, when they're under the greatest pressure, is when they have to perform in front of people, emotionally expose themselves in that fashion." He goes on to say, "Many creative people, whether they play music or paint or dance, whether they're writers and so on, they - and I say this in a kind way - sometimes are wired a little differently than other people."
It also turns out that the crowds they tend to run with may give them easier access to a quick escape, like drugs. While those who vibrate at a different frequency per say may turn to addiction as an escape, addiction in this day and age isn't relegated to just creative types anymore. Why it has long provided an escape from the "reality" of fame that they live it, it is now an escape for anyone's reality. Addiction has become an epidemic in this country. It's no longer rock gods dying from heroin overdoses. It's the girl or boy or mom or dad next door.
And what we can take from their deaths, from the death of Weiland is this: Addiction affects everyone. And every loss, famous or otherwise, is still the loss of a parent, a child, a brother, a loved one.
Seek help, if not just for yourself, for someone who needs you, like the children Weiland left behind.
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