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Malcolm James McCormick, known as Mac Miller, by any measure a successful musical talent, died at his home from an apparent overdose last Friday September 7. It’s easy to dismiss this as yet another celebrity death – particularly a musician – succumbing to drugs: “Hey that’s just their lifestyle, right?” However, Mac Miller’s death means so much more.
Although he leaves behind friends, family and fans who love him dearly, his death seems like just another celebrity overdose in the media and across the Internet. With over 70,000 other drug-related deaths every year (estimated 2017 by the CDC) and hundreds of thousands more hospitalizations, we have become dangerously desensitized to the problem. Yes, we all know that substance abuse is a clear and present danger to our society, but we have lost the shock that each of these tragedies should elicit in us. Until we collectively remember that each of these deaths extinguishes the promise of what should otherwise be a long life and career, we cannot effectively deal with the underlying problem.
Mac Miller’s death also shows us that substance abuse – drugs and alcohol – transcends wealth, socioeconomic status and just about every barrier. There is no part of society or geographic area in the United States that is not susceptible or immune to the problem. For those of us that do not believe it can happen to those around us, let this serve as a wake-up call that it certainly can.
This tragedy makes it clear that recovery is also a lifelong process. Mac Miller admitted doing drugs from the age of 10. At such a young age, who knows what caused or influenced his drug use. Using seemingly continued throughout his life as a crutch to manage stress during his early career. It seems that for a time he was able to get off drugs and stay clean. Miller was then arrested for DUI in mid-2018. Were there warning signs? It seems so. Was there anything anyone could do about it? Maybe, maybe not. Was this overdose part of a wider relapse event or a one-off? We may never know. However Miller’s life, seemingly on an upward trajectory, took a tragic turn for the worst because of drugs and alcohol.
So what can we do and what can we learn from Mac Miller’s death?
First, we need to recognize that addiction can strike anyone, anywhere, at any time; and it must be identified and treated early. Educating ourselves about drug and alcohol abuse, as well as seeking professional help for our loved ones early on, is critical to a more successful recovery.
Second, until we all work together to fight this horrific disease that is killing so many of our promising youth, we risk letting this epidemic spiral further out-of-control. Work with your families, educators, local officials and behavioral health professionals to develop a plan on how you can address possible drug use at your school, in your community, and even your home. Prevention is key.
Lastly, support for those we know and love is a critical part of prevention and treatment of substance-abuse and mental health disorders. Even those who are seemingly “just fine” can always use a little bit of help and support in their lives. Sometimes, those with the most people around them are actually the loneliest, and often those that seem to have it all together are the ones most prone to falling apart. As a close friend or family member, you may see the warning signs; don’t ignore them. Most addicts will fight your help, tooth and nail. Don’t quit, rather get professional and emotional support and redouble your efforts.
Rest in Peace Mac Miller and may we all fight together to end blog posts such as this.