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Challenges of Success

July 15, 2013

Cory Monteith and Lea Michele on May 7 in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico after Monteith’s month-long rehab stint.

At the age of 31, Glee star, Cory Monteith was pronounced dead by emergency personnel in a hotel room in Vancouver, Canada on Saturday. “We are so saddened to confirm that the reports on the death of Cory Monteith are accurate,” Monteith’s rep said in a statement to Us Weekly after the tragic new broke. “We are in shock and mourning this tragic loss.” While the coroner is investigating the cause of death, foul play is not suspected.

Just this spring, Monteith had voluntarily sought treatment for substance addiction fortified by the support of loved ones including his girlfriend and Glee costar, Lea Michele who stated, “I’m grateful and proud he made this decision.” 20th Century Fox TV stated at the time, “Cory is a beloved member of the Glee family, and we fully support his decision to seek treatment. Everyone at the show wishes him well and looks forward to his return.” Upon exiting rehab in late April, he tweeted to his fans, “Sending out big love to everyone. Thank you for the continued support! It means the world to me!” The actor was described as appearing happier and healthier in recent weeks.

In 2011, Monteith shared with Parade his battle with drugs and alcohol, admitting he did “anything and everything, as much as possible” after he dropped out of high school at the age of 16. When he was 19, his family and friends staged an intervention. “That’s when I first went to rehab,” he said. Unfortunately, when he finished the program, Monteith returned to his exact same drug and alcohol habit. A significant turning point occurred later when he was caught stealing “a significant amount of money from a family member,” which he described as a “cry for help.” At that low moment, he realized he needed to make a real change in his life.

It’s important to note that the cause of Cory’s death has not yet been established. But his difficult history of substance abuse serves as a reminder that the entertainment industry is filled with long hours, high pressure, and constant scrutiny. And while addiction does not discriminate based on wealth, social class, gender, ethnicity or fame, celebrities do seem more likely to suffer from drug and alcohol addictions. Performers have to navigate through many obstacles on their own as their work often requires that they be separated from friends and family. Some may feel pressure to constantly be the life of the party. Because their job is to be in continuous media focus, they need to concern themselves with public scrutiny which can lead to a heightened sense of self-consciousness. Working toward and maintaining success while struggling to be accepted by fans and the media can also lead to an environment where low self-esteem can feed and thrive. And so, an aspiring actor would be wise to develop healthy habits, pay close attention to his or her mental, psychological, spiritual, and physical health–and especially to reach out for help earlier rather than later if prolonged drug use becomes an issue. Indeed, much scientific evidence exists showing that prolonged drug use changes the brain in fundamental ways that reinforce drug taking and lead to addiction.

Dot-Marie Jones, who portrays the football coach on Glee said of Cory, “He was not only a hell of a friend, he was one amazing man.” RIP, Cory Monteith.