Whitney’s Dead. I’m assuming it was drug related…

During the twenty-fifth and final season of her epic talk show, Oprah interviewed Whitney Houston. For Whitney, it was a “comeback” type of thing. For the Oprah show, it was a “big get.”

During the interview, Whitney sat there, pretending to be “clean.” And she was so obviously not. I could smell it all the way through my TV screen. Whitney’s ego was running the show. She made fun of Oprah for not knowing “drug-lingo” and as she explained all about “drugs” to Oprah, she almost appeared wistful. Oprah held Whitney’s hand and told her how sad she was that Whitney’d been mistreated by her ex-husband Bobby Brown. They had a moment, and got all teary together.

And then Whitney mentioned that while she was off “drugs” she still has a few drinks at the hotel bar.

There it was.

That was the moment.

And Oprah, expert at calling people out on their shit, said nothing.

Oprah, who does not need Whitney’s approval, or money, or connections or anything but the “big get,” did not need to coddle the addict Whitney Houston. It made me sick. I thought, Oprah, …why are you letting her get away with that? So, Whitney might storm out of the room. The interview might be lost. So what? I could not believe Oprah Winfrey was afraid of confronting her. An addict cannot just casually go have a few drinks.


They continued, and they had Whitney’s teenage daughter stand up and talk about how proud she was of her mom. Puh-lease. That girl had to know her mom was still a mess.

And yes, I don’t know what goes into making an Oprah Winfery show. I don’t know if there was a clause or something where Oprah wasn’t allowed to ask certain questions or go certain places. And I know Oprah didn’t have a thing to do with causing Whitney’s addiction. Knowing Oprah’s benevolence, she’d probably done plenty behind the scenes to try and help her. I have no idea. I love Oprah and think what she has done to uplift the planet is beyond what can be measured.

But from my limited view, she dropped the ball here.

Because when no one calls an addict on their shit, they die.

If everyone, including someone as powerful as Oprah Winfrey was afraid of speaking up to Whitney Houston, what prayer did she have, really? Whitney needed a Gayle.

At a young age, I estranged myself from my father. I said no. I will not have you in my life with your dysfunction. Knowing addiction is an illness, I have often felt guilty for putting up such a severe wall. I had to make a choice, him or me, and I picked me. I’ve often felt like if I were more spiritual, more loving, more forgiving, better somehow, I could swing it…but I couldn’t.

No more thinking like that. Enabling an addict is an act of cowardice, not an act of love. You can forgive someone and understand someone and even love them and tell them NO. I’ll have no part of this.

For every addict out there, there are people enabling them. Perhaps if more people stood up to the addicts in their lives, called them out on their unacceptable behavior, they’d be forced to look at themselves.

So a million reasons went into Whitney Houston’s death. I don’t really blame Oprah, (the person) for what happened to Whitney. But that interview represents for me, all the other times when someone was afraid to speak the truth to an addict. That interview to me, represents how addicts get away with continuing to use, and why they die.

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14 Responses to Whitney’s Dead. I’m assuming it was drug related…

  1. kario says:

    Bravo, Michelle. I love that you call it the way you see it. I know how scary it is to confront someone who is an addict, but I also know that you’re right about it being an act of love to do so. While it may seem like kicking someone when they’re down, it is actually more like letting them know that they’ve hit bottom and they ought to figure out a way to get up.

    I am so sad about Whitney’s death and hope that her struggle was transparent enough to her daughter that she will be able to avoid going there herself.

  2. Really powerful, Michelle, and I so respect it. I have a close uncle who is enabling his two sons (in their mid to late thirties) to continue to live with him, work for his business, etc. while still addicted to drugs. It’s driven everyone in our family nuts — and while I’ve had the conversation about enabling with my uncle over and over, he just can’t not take care of them. I wonder what you feel about parents and their children when it comes to addiction — it seems so impossible to me, so heartbreaking, etc. —

  3. Michelle O'Neil says:

    I don’t know Elizabeth. I imagine it is much more difficult to cut off a child you love and feel responsible for. I pray I never have to know that kind of pain. My heart goes out to parents of children who are addicted and to all those who suffer around the subject of addiction.

  4. rhemashope says:

    “You can forgive someone and understand someone and even love them and tell them NO. I’ll have no part of this.”

    i so admire your courage.

  5. Betsy Hicks says:

    I’m curious about you views on The Frey’s song “How to Save a Life”?

  6. kyra says:

    first of all, YES! i’m with you! and secondly, SUPER HUGE CONGRATULATIONS on your book! i am thrilled for you! and am about to go order my own copy! xxxx!

  7. Great post!! I didn’t see that interview – I wonder if I can find it and watch it????

  8. Dee Ready says:

    Dear Michelle,



  9. Leah says:

    Really, really great post, Michelle! And you are so right on! I remember that I didn’t bother watching that interview because I’m not a Whitney fan. But reading your account, you totally call it out. She was never clean and sober. It is too bad Oprah let that one go.

  10. Lo says:

    Great, great post!

  11. Me says:

    Today, I heard Dr. Drew Pinsky say the same thing you have here and I had to come back and tell you that.

  12. Alicia D says:

    i missed this oprah episode but i am fascinated by your insights in this well-composed post! i love the line “enabling an addict is an act of cowardice, not love.” so RIGHT ON. im sorry you needed to learn this lesson from first hand experience. that is very sad :(.

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