Rebel Rebel: © Leka Im, Price: © John Leclerc, George Michael: ©

2016 Is Not Killing People

Judy Grundstrom
3 min readDec 26, 2016

I have a very unpopular opinion. It is not 2016 that is to blame for many of our favorite icons dying and falling ill at ages that are too young. It is drug and alcohol abuse.

People exclaimed over and over as one well known artist after another died too soon, “2016 is the worst! Please stop now!” But one important thing quietly slipped by this year with barely a notice that is related to many of the deaths we have experienced this year. A study was released by the CDC stating that the US Life Expectancy has decreased for the first time since 1993. And no one knows why. There are a few thoughts to the cause such as obesity, opioid abuse and suicide. The important thing to pay attention to is, if you are in you 40’s or 50’s, you will probably not live as long as your parents or grandparents did and it may be due to a life threatening addiction.

Let’s look at the two most recent health events suffered by famous people, George Michael and Carrie Fisher. George Michael died of heart failure at 53 and Carrie Fisher suffered a massive heart attack at 60. According to those close to him, George Michael, an enthusiastic user of cannabis for decades, moved on to dabble with a deadly selection of new narcotics in the past few years (some will remember his 2008 arrest for smoking crack cocaine). The singer, who dropped out of public view after releasing an album last spring, was said to be smoking crack cocaine again recently. ‘He spends all day in a dark room with a pipe,’ a friend said ‘It’s his addictive personality — everyone is scared to death about him.’ Carrie Fisher is so well known for her drug & alcohol abuse she is often referred to as “noted former cocaine user Carrie Fisher” in articles about others who have done the drug.

Carrie Fisher Twitter: @carriefisher, The Sun:

Here is the thing, cocaine is the perfect heart attack drug, even if you only use it a few times a year. Cocaine users have higher blood pressure, stiffer arteries and thicker heart muscle walls — all which lead to heart attacks. 2016 did not cause mysterious illnesses to befall our favorite artists. A disease from which I suffer and is as deadly as any cancer is killing my generation at an alarming rate at no one wants to admit it.

Prince was larger than life, but died from a very human disease that is surrounded by stigma and almost impossible to get treatment for. I wonder if he would still be alive if we were able to talk about drug abuse as easily as we do about diabetes?

It is time to stop being superstitious and pretending a calendar year is killing people. Alcoholism and drug abuse are killing people. Next year it will kill more. Next year it might be your favorite recording artist, or maybe your best friend, or your brother, or maybe even you.



Judy Grundstrom

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