There are millions of people that have loved Cory Monteith, one of the stars of the hit TV show Glee, from a distance. And, from what we’ve heard from media interviews, there was no shortage of love from people close to the actor.

So, why would someone who is beloved by so many turn to addictive substances for relief? Cory’s death by overdose of heroin and alcohol can teach us a lot about addiction and how difficult it can be to truly beat it.

In an interview with his castmates on Inside the Actor’s Studio, Cory was very open about his problems with addiction. He admitted to being a troubled child and said he started turning to addictive substances when he was 12.

You can see the clip here:

We know from addiction research in recent years how addictive substances or behaviors abused when the brain is still developing leave a very deep void that is difficult to heal. Difficult but not impossible. The human body is designed to heal and, properly supported, can reverse just about any condition. The process by which the brain repairs itself is known as neural plasticity.

So, why didn’t Cory’s brain heal? He mentioned that he found recovery when he was 19. Unfortunately, many addiction treatment programs focus more on sobriety than healing the underlying void that is fueling the craving or need to use. Without restoring healthy functionality to the brain’s reward center, the addict is left with a constant fight on their hands.

It’s understandable that sometimes the battle requires too much energy. The addict brain remembers clearly how quick and easy it can be to feel better. And, since the decision-making ability is hijacked by the addiction, the consequences are not even given consideration.

Sobriety is a necessary first step for addiction recovery but it is just that, a first step.

I don’t know anything about the treatment program that Cory went through earlier this year. I don’t know what triggered him to the point of relapse. I don’t know if he felt the love that people have for him.

What I do know is that there must have been unresolved trauma that continued to haunt him staying close to the surface. And, from our work with people struggling to find their way through healing codependence, I imagine that Cory was not able to let himself really experience the love that was available for him.

It’s common to hear addicts express, the only reason people love me is because they don’t really know me. I believe that there was a lot about Cory that we didn’t know. Unfortunately, his untimely death stopped his recovery and left us all with many unanswered questions.

What can Cory teach us about addiction? We need to learn to love ourselves (with all our flaws). And, demonstrate that love by taking good care of ourselves.

How did Cory Monteith’s passing affect you and your understanding of addiction?

Dr. Gala Gorman

Dr. Gala Gorman holds advanced degrees in human development, is a holistic life coach, and published author of the Spiritual Approach™ series of books focused on practical spirituality. She co-founded RecoverYES to support the specific needs of people dealing with addiction.