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What Can We Learn From Whitney Houston's Autopsy Results About Our Own Addictions?

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Like perhaps many of you were, I was devastated to hear about Whitney Houston's death -- and just as sad to learn the results of her autopsy, which revealed "chronic usage" of cocaine.

And as is probably true for many reading this, I sang along with Ms. Houston since way back when. There were even times she and I got together to sing duets. (Me in my car, she on CD -- work with me here, people.) Of course, I had heard and read about Ms. Houston's battle with addiction over the years; but to realize she's actually gone really shook me to my core.

Along with the impact Ms. Houston had on my life (by contributing to my life's soundtrack on so many occasions), there's also the fact that I can relate to life-threatening addictions and the "hold" that something dangerous can have over one's self. Whether it's alcohol, illegal drugs, prescription drugs (the list goes on) or food, we can all empathize with Ms. Houston's plight and her continual struggle with her demons.

Speaking of demons, Ms. Houston summed it up insightfully in a December 2002 interview with Diane Sawyer, when the interviewer asked Ms. Houston about her drug use:

Diane Sawyer: Is it alcohol? Is it marijuana? Is it cocaine? Is it pills?

Whitney Houston: It has been, at times

Diane Sawyer: If you had to name the devil for you, the biggest devil among them?

Whitney Houston: That would be me.

Really telling -- not to mention haunting, no? And a clear indication that Ms. Houston truly recognized her challenges -- just as the rest of us must -- in order to move on from them and/or live with them in the healthiest way possible. (We lifelong dieters can't exactly give up food, after all.)

While many would not understand comparing food to alcohol, marijuana, cocaine or pills, I know most who have dealt with issues of excess weight can easily relate. When I weighed in excess of 450 pounds and was stuffing myself with food to the point of physical and mental pain, I was endangering my life in similar ways. The heart, other vital organs and blood pressure can only take so much (to say nothing of our muscles and bone structure). Thus, I realize that another thing that has be so somber about Ms. Houston's passing and autopsy results is that old saying, "There but for the grace of God go I."

Turns out Ms. Houston and I have a lot more in common than our all-star duets.

Finding myself saddened not only by Ms. Houston's death but also the results of her autopsy, I knew I needed to change my mental attitude or risk bringing others and myself down. Thus, I am choosing to be encouraged and inspired by what's happened. Not by Ms. Houston's death or apparent addictions -- but by the musical legacy she leaves behind (which has touched so many lives, many of which she never interacted with on a personal level).

In addition to letting the music live on (and allowing it to lift our spirits), people like us ("blessed" with a dieter's mentality) can take a lesson from Ms. Houston's life and take heart in the fact that although we might be facing our own demons, we are still living and breathing today. And because we're still here, we can take control of and wrestle any demon (food, cocaine or otherwise) that might cause us harm.

So join me in being glad that we still have challenges to face -- challenges that we can overcome with inspiration that comes from many different sources, including one Ms. Whitney Houston, whose music, talent and musical legacy will hopefully long outlive her untimely death and autopsy results.

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