Overheard on CNN.com: What can we learn from Whitney Houston's life, death?
The death of Whitney Houston, pictured at the American Music Awards in 2009, has provoked a strong reaction among readers.
February 13th, 2012
02:38 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: What can we learn from Whitney Houston's life, death?

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

Celine Dion is facing criticism after saying drug use "took over" Whitney Houston's life. Many tore into Dion via Twitter after her "Good Morning America" interview Monday discussing Houston's death. Nevertheless, Dion got lots of support from our readers. Many commenters said Houston made poor decisions in her life, regardless of their feelings about her work as an artist. We've highlighted a few of their remarks. What do you think?

Celine Dion on Houston: Drugs took over her dreams

Several readers said they believe Dion's assessment was correct.

bluegrassbiscuit: "A fan of Whitney here; however, I agree with Celine. It's sad and unfortunate. When will people learn? We say these people are our idols and they influence us to do great things, become a singer, reach for our goals, etc. Then why can't, when something like this happens, we get influenced to not fall into drugs and alcohol? It should work both ways. ..."

Rose: "Drug and alcohol abuse can still kill you even if you get clean and stay clean for years. It causes a lot of damage to your organs that can cause an early death. I hope that she had not fallen back into substance abuse."

But others noted celebrities often get what they want, even when it hurts.

Louisa: "I'm still so sad over her death, but how could anyone get to her? When you have money and bodyguards and people that will tell you anything you want to hear, how could anyone get close enough to help? Same with Michael (Jackson). He could afford doctors to give him what he wanted, and if they didn't, then he got someone else. We have lost some true talents."

There were a lot of personal stories about the consequences of substance abuse.

Eddie: "Truth is not always easy. How about the millions of no-name people who are dying. How come they are not getting any attention? Just lost my stepdaughter due to drugs; anybody hear? Yeah, right."

Caroline: "Sorry to hear this Eddie. I've dealt with this, too. It's a helpless situation. The only advice I have is stop asking yourself what you could have done. It will only persecute you and the simple answer is nothing. If they want it bad enough, they'll find a way around anything you might have done."

Sandy: "... There are so many who have similar problems that don't get the help or attention needed for their addictions. Addiction is something I am have seen and been a victim of some else's addiction. However, I am lucky to say that I don't suffer from addiction. I chose to be cautious not to fall into it as my dad was an alcoholic. But it isn't as easy for many. I don't understand how a substance can take you over like that. And I won't ever really know. I pray for those who have addictions, that they can find the help and support they need to acknowledge and understand how to deal with it. Addiction breaks so many hearts."

One reader said Dion should be praised for bringing this issue to the surface.

Honest Abe: "Wow! Her fans are in such denial. Celine could have added dozens of others to her list, and still only scratched the surface. Good for you, Celine, for addressing the 800-pound elephant everyone else is ignoring."

That comment drew several replies:

thetruth: "I agree 100%. We're losing excellent talent due to the soaring drug problem in Hollywood. The doctors giving the drugs to them are yet another problem!"

GailScott: "No one is ignoring the problem Whitney had with drugs, but some of us are grieving and would like to bury her before exploring 'what could have been' had she not taken drugs."

pockets: "... Thank you, Celine for telling it the way it is. 99% agree with you. RIP Whitney, your suffering is over."

TisJustMe: "Honest Abe, I agree with you completely. Whitney became a boozing dope head, damaging her singing and (dying) well before her time as a result. Hopefully, her fans (especially those foolish enough to be in denial) and the general public will take her lesson to heart. If that happens, she did not die in vain. I am glad there are entertainers like Celine Dion who set a good example and tell it like it is."

Caroline: "Completely agree. When I heard the news on Saturday I hate to say it but (I) wasn't shocked. She had every opportunity to get clean and didn't; not even her daughter was a good enough reason for her. I raised four children who lost their mother because of her addictions, and as blessed as I have been to have them in my life, I am angry with their biological mother for not loving them enough to be better; it should have been her. It's incredibly sad, but shame on her for not making (daughter) Bobbi Christina more important. Celine said what a lot of us are thinking. Good for her. I don't see arrogance, just the cold hard truth. I am aware that I have written this with the assumption that drugs killed her. If it wasn't drugs, that would shock me."

Commenters said Houston was already deteriorating.

pandoramn: "I agree with the statements already made here ... and for those criticizing Celine, I say, this is not unexpected. We didn't need to wait for autopsy results to know that drugs and alcohol would be involved. All you had to do was ... (watch) the last few times she was out in public - it was obvious to everyone that her talent had been wasted. The voice was pretty much gone ..., the breath control that had once been so stupendous was gone; she had one foot in the grave for a long time. It is also ironic and tragic that her mother (Cissy Houston), who sang backup for Elvis in the Sweet Inspirations, was apparently not able to use the experience of watching him disintegrate to convince her daughter to stay away from drugs."

mouse: "Yes, because we know how much control a mother has over their adult, grown children. No disrepect, but Whitney did this to herself, period, but it doesn't change the fact that this was a tragic, tragic ending for a beloved voice."

Some critiqued celebrity culture in general.

yemencamel3: "At least one celebrity is coming out and telling at least part of the truth. The truth is that the whole concept of celebrity status and stardom was rigged from the beginning - going all the way back to the 1920s and '30s in Hollywood. ... Singing a song, throwing a ball through a hoop, repeating some line in front of a camera (doesn't) really mean a damn thing and the people who do these things need to be placed much closer to earth in our minds than hung up near the stars."

Another commenter called Houston's death a shame.

Roger: "Amen!! Celine Dion only told the truth. I wish someone would wake the hell up and start really cracking down on these celebrities who abuse drugs only so they can save their lives. How many lives will we lose before we start holding these people accountable, and I not only mean the artists but these doctors that keep giving these drugs out like candy. Just think if Whitney Houston (I am a big fan) (didn't) do drugs; she would have dominated the '90s. She started the '90s with 'The Bodyguard' and 'Waiting to Exhale,' and her music was on top of the charts and that would have just been the beginning. She would have been the female version of Michael Jackson but only bigger. She was beautiful, talented and just had that charisma to be successful. Her voice was one of a kind; my word to describe her is flawless. It is a shame we will never know how big she would have been since she was already awesome, even with the drug use."

There are many sides to every issue, and we'd love to hear your viewpoint. Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

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Filed under: Celebrity • Health • Music • Overheard on CNN.com • Showbiz • Whitney Houston
soundoff (72 Responses)
  1. Delene Sturgis

    Leave judgement to GOD. NONE of us knows what life has in store or what tomorrow may bring...No matter what Whitney was a child of God. Eternal Peace is my prayer for you. FLY HIGH

    February 14, 2012 at 8:34 am | Report abuse |
  2. Mike

    Drug addicts die every day, why do we only celebrate the lives of the ones who could sing? Even if they were child molesters, all is forgiven. How high do you have to be to drown in your own bathtub?

    February 14, 2012 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
  3. Martine

    Enough about this. She was a washed up pop star who could not live in the present.
    It is very sad but she is no icon.

    February 14, 2012 at 9:15 am | Report abuse |
  4. Linda

    While I am not a Celine Dion fan, ( sorry) I am happy that she spoke what everyone on earth is thinking. All that money, fame, talent, and still CHOOSING THE PATH OF DARKNESS. Celine was spot on in calling out those who are doing the same thing. How many have to die? Amy Winehouse, Michael Jackson, so many talents. And why? Money hungry " entourage" " security" " managers' all assuring the addict access to the deadly substance of choice. And yet the finger pointing needs to be squarely on the " victim" as adults who make their own choices, knowing the consequences. " of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are these, what might have been. "
    Rest in peace Whitney.

    February 14, 2012 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
  5. Hawaiian chilipepper

    She was washed up, Voice gone, youth gone. She probably was thinking how she blew it and didn't want to go on. After the high life it's hard to face that you lost it all. Also drugs really depress you enough that you aren't in your right mind.

    February 14, 2012 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
  6. N Tyler

    No matter what people Withney lived her dream.She new it was her time to go and yes Jesus love her that why he toke her home.My heart goes out to her mother and daughter i hope her daughter take her voice to another level.R.I.P. May God Bless the family.

    February 14, 2012 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
  7. Don howard

    Everything is centered around whitneys drug use as a cause of her death. I belive she was sober for three years as she stated. I once knew someone who turned his life around. Found god and admitted to drug use, his career turned around. Three years later, he was dead. It took four months for the coroner to figure out why he died so young and in good health to boot. Apparently, the years of drug use took a toll on his heart and weakened it. His constant traveling and running around on lack of sleep caused his death. So it turns out he died of sudden heart failure.

    February 14, 2012 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  8. Ademir

    Celine Dion is correct in saying this, I am a huge fan of celine dion, and thanks to her that I left my friends who use drugs aside, after I became a fan of celine dion, our everything I saw her I was doing, I saw that she was not going on holiday so I spoke, so I'll go to a party going if something happens, and my friends would not already offer drug for me, and thanks to celine dion I said, I do not want, Celine Dion wanting or not she just tell the truth, yes it is true that a singer and is not pretending, talking only good things she's right and I think Whitney houston would thank her for alerting people that, Celine Dion My love You diva .

    A thousand apologies my english is poor

    February 14, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  9. comeon

    Just like Amy Winehouse... all this talk about how tragic their deaths were. F that. Children dying of cancer is tragic, genocide in Africa is tragic, soldiers dying for their country is tragic... a druggie ODing isn't. She had every opportunity in the world but chose not to help herself. Enough already.

    February 14, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Stephen

    Celine is French-Canadian – I lived there in Montreal for 20 years, they tell it like it is, and are very passionate when they do, so Celine is expressing her feelings as many French-Canadians would. Remember she was a fan of Whitney's and also her peer – Celine is as upset as any Whitney fan, but has an insight most of us do not. Celine assumes that drugs took Whitney away from her duty as a mother (maybe she knows this) – but ask yourself this, as much as Whitney must love her daughter, how could any addict who uses daily (as Whitney admitted she did) be a GOOD mother?

    February 14, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
  11. monique perez

    As a recovering addict i was sadden to see whitney houston death. there is a epidemic of drug use,but also can be arrested. addicts die from their dise ase everyday and nobody cares..lets be clear..alcohol and prescription me ds ARE DRUGS!! My thoughts are with her family.

    February 14, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Barbara Bakke

    Hats off to Celine for speaking the truth. It would have been easy to wallow in sentiment and say what people would like to hear. Instead Celine should the courage of her convictions. She should be applauded for what she said.

    February 14, 2012 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
  13. larry

    Since her death I've heard several people say that those around her should have done something.What could anyone do.She was a grown woman with her own money.I don't know if it was an overdose but if it was thats so very sad.But her choices,what can you do to make someone stop?As a recovering addict I can tell you if I want to use I will.Regardless of what someone says.Don't put a guilt trip on those that remain.

    February 14, 2012 at 11:44 pm | Report abuse |
  14. thomasJ

    I've been a fan of Whitney's since she burst on the scene back in '83 on The Merv Griffin Show (hope I spelled it right). But even when she descended into drugs I still held on to hope that she'd get better. I too was a smoker, a drinker, pill popper but never went into rehab! I credit it all to God! Personally I don't think Whitney died from the drugs per say. The drugs she spoke of in interviews weren't the drugs that killed her and we don't know the cause of her death yet. Doctors should be held accountable for writing prescriptions to ANYONE with an addiction to drugs! I applaude Whitney for talking about it, confessing it, seeking help and doing the best she could! She had enablers I'm sure! She was Whitney Houston! But who knows what Celine is doing? We didn't know what Whitney was doing either. Had she not been in the public as she was we wouldn't have known! God rest her soul!

    February 15, 2012 at 3:01 am | Report abuse |
  15. bienefly

    I try to feel her pain.Dealing with extreme success,wrong life choices once made (like all of us),falling steeply and seeing her life falling apart.Realizing that she can't keep up with everyone's expectations to perform and be like 20 years ago.Things change.Why didn't we love her for the person she was.Instead we walked out of her comeback-concerts,dissapointed.Celine Dion is right in this-we have to be scared of the showbuisness.We also have to be scared of our own expectations from people.

    February 15, 2012 at 3:49 am | Report abuse |
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