Monday, February 18, 2013

Mindy McCready

To be honest, I was not surprised when I heard country singer Mindy McCready ultimately took her own life. It was reported Sunday that she died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at age 37.

For the better part of a decade, we've heard nothing but stories of destructive behavior whenever there was news pertaining to McCready. Whether it was being in an abusive relationship, suffering through chemical addiction or multiple suicide attempts, it just seemed inevitable that McCready was not long for this world. What's even more heart-breaking is there are two little boys (ages six years and ten months) who now have the burden of growing up without their momma.

McCready was quite possibly the hottest ticket on the country music scene from 1996 through 1998. Having been a country music enthusiast myself when she burst on to the scene, I was quite smitten with her. So much so, that I waited in line to meet her in May 1998 when she was at the Mall of America to promote her latest album If I Don't Stay the Night (Her debut album Ten Thousand Angels, which was released in April 1996, ended up going double platinum). Despite being a legit megastar (as well as being engaged to popular actor Dean Cain), I was impressed with how grounded Mindy appeared. In fact, when I had the opportunity to finally meet her, we had a fun two-minute conversation (Most celebs I've encountered barely made eye contact). To this day, I still have my copy of the Ten Thousand Angels CD in which she autographed the liner.

I guess my anecdote is proof positive that no matter the facade a person may put up, you just never know what they're capable of when adversity strikes. After her second album went Gold, McCready had little more than marginal success in her music career. In addition, she seemed to endure one dysfunctional relationship after another after she and Cain broke off their engagement later in 1998.

What has really surprised me in the aftermath of McCready's suicide is how people have taken to attacking addiction specialist Dr. Drew Pinsky. It was pointed out by many on Twitter that McCready is the fifth celebrity casualty amongst those who have appeared on Dr. Drew's VH1 reality show Celebrity Rehab. The prevailing argument is that Pinsky merely exploited these celebs to hike ratings on the show and thus it proved to be little more than a distraction in their attempts to attain sobriety. Personally, I've seen many episodes of the show, which has aired over six different seasons. What I have seen is essentially end-stage addicts who are using this venue as one last opportunity to become free from their respective addictions. Yes, some of them eventually succumb to their addictions and thus pay the ultimate price. But to imply that Dr. Drew's motives were impure and that he was only interested in exploiting the celebs' illnesses for personal gain seems to be a bit of a stretch. Besides, has anyone ever considered the possibility this show had an impact on viewers who were vulnerable to addictions? After all, regular folks may see celebrities whom they've admired for years struggle mightily to overcome their demons and, as a result, decide to seek the help they need before they too reach the "end stage" point.

While celebrity rehab participants like McCready, Mike Starr, Rodney King, Jeff Conaway and Joey Kovar sadly lost their battles, we can only hope that in their falling short of making a full recovery will serve as cautionary tales to those who are can't escape the throes of addiction.


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