What happened to Whitney Houston? Q&A with expert on addiction

Whitney Houston admitted in 2009 to using drugs with ex-husband Bobby Brown.

Legendary songstress Whitney Houston was found dead in her bathtub on Saturday afternoon. No evidence of crime or self-harm was found at the scene. She was due to attend her mentor Clive Davis’ pre-Grammy party that night, as well as the actual ceremony the following day.

The 48-year-old Houston was known to have used cocaine, crack cocaine and weed in the past — addictions she sought to end with a number of stints in rehab.

The cause of her death remains unknown.

We speak to addiction expert Dr. John Sharpe about her death:

Addicts often seem to die suddenly. Why is that?

We know that she has had a long struggle with drugs, namely cocaine and crack cocaine, and it may have beaten her. Over the years, it can ravage the body and people get worn down — which can have catastrophic consequences. Cocaine can cause stress, which can further lead to heart attacks, aneurysms or strokes. Although in Whitney’s case, it could have been unrelated.

What do you think could have been the cause of her death?

I think her body gave in to years of abuse or a recent period of indulgence. She had recently just wrapped up shooting for the movie “Sparkle” and was in L.A. over the weekend getting ready to attend Clive Davis’ party. These are all relevant factors. People celebrate big accomplish­ments, and I worry that she may have overindulged in old vices at the wrong time. It was just 3 o’clock in the afternoon [when she died]. I’d like to believe she got the drugs out of her system, and in a moment of total letdown her body gave out.

Do you think she could have overdosed?

I don’t think she overdosed. If someone uses cocaine, even if they are not old, they run the risk of significant cardiovascular strain. What people don’t get is that it can happen at any time, even the first time you use the drug. But if drugs have worn you down, you may have developed an underlying vulnerability or cardiac problem, and you can add to that the stress of the cocaine and life. People who use don’t see that any time could be the last time. She was too young to die in a bathtub but old enough to have suffered the cumulative ravages of drug use.

Reports about her recent health are conflicting. What do you make of that?

Some say she looked wonderful recently and others say she was far from that. There are a lot of conflicting reports, that she was totally clean and fine or that she has been highly intoxicated. She has had a lot of stress in her life, a lot of emotional battles and these health factors alone can kill you.
She was the queen of the music industry. What people need to hear is that when you lead a life like she did, you cannot avoid coming into contact with drugs or alcohol. You wind up having to deal with your demons. It’s a cautionary tale. The next queens out there need to know in advance the potential risks and need to find a way to keep a level head and stay healthy.

I just don’t think Whitney dealt with her demons.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

News

Mets mascot Mr. Met target of Bill Clinton…

Mets mascot Mr. Met has told how he ended up in the crosshairs of a Secret Service sniper rifle. The man behind the Mr. Met…

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

National

Chelsea Clinton pregnant with first child

Chelsea Clinton is pregnant with her first child.

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

Movies

Review: 'Transcendence' is not stupid but sometimes lacks…

The cyberthriller "Transcendence" explores artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and other ethical quandaries, but has too much ambition, if anything.

Television

Dick Wolf to bring fictionalized world of 'Law…

A&E has ordered a pilot called "D.O.A." from "Law and Order" mastermind Dick Wolf that will focus on real detectives reexamining cold cases. A trio…

Television

Shane West talks WGN America's 'Salem'

The actor on history lessons, a new network and showing his butt.

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox score two in…

Lester shines in Red Sox win over White Sox

Sports

2014 Boston Marathon preview: Elite American, International runners…

2014 Boston Marathon: Elite American, International runners to watch

NBA

2014 NBA Finals odds: Ranking which playoff teams…

2014 NBA Finals odds: Ranking which playoff teams have the best shot at a championship. The Thunder, Clippers, Heat and Rockets lead the way.

NFL

2014 Patriots, full NFL schedule release date announced

2014 Patriots, full NFL schedule release date announced

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.

Travel

Earth Day travel in the Florida Keys

See why this eco-friendly destination deserves your attention.

Tech

Sorry, Facebook — FarmVille goes mobile with 'Country…

Zynga has released a version of the hit "FarmVille" tailored for smartphones and tablets in the hope of reaping a bumper crop of players.