That’s a lot of demons for a woman who had none. Whitney Houston was mentally ill. She had the disease of addiction. She was not possessed. She was very, very sick. I afford her the same compassion and sympathy as I would someone who is slowly dying from cancer or some other progressive, fatal illness.
Addicts and alcoholics – like me – do not have demons. We have illnesses.
To the folks in Salem in the 1600′s we probably seemed possessed because, let’s be honest, some of us do some pretty wicked things when we are under the influence – especially those of us, like me, who are dual-diagnosed and who – like me – have other mental illnesses, such as bipolar.
We stigmatize addiction and alcoholism every time we use the word “demons” to describe our illnesses. We take a step backwards in the relentless effort to convince others that these are “real” medical conditions. The American Medical Association has recognized alcoholism as a legitimate illness for decades. Why can’t we?
Critics will say “having demons” is a figure of speech. Lighten up. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Well, “retard,” “gimp” and my father’s favorite “as handy as a club foot” are just figures of speech, too. But we think twice about using them today.
We don’t even know what killed Whitney Houston or how she died, yet we are convinced it must have been her “demons.” There are many unanswered questions. This I know: you will not find the word “demons” in her autopsy report or on her death certificate.
“Demons” did not kill Whitney Houston.
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Last reviewed: 18 Feb 2012