It was one year ago, on Feb. 11, 2012, that Whitney Houston died alone in a hotel bathtub. Her cause of death was later ruled to be accidental drowning and the effects of atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine use. Her autopsy found cocaine, Benadryl, Xanax, marijuana and Flexeril in her system at the time of death.
It was a shocking but not entirely surprising development. She was once the pride of pop R&B, a gifted vocalist whose formative years were spent singing in church. But she was apparently intent on rebelling against her good girl image, which manifested itself in her marriage to Bobby Brown and experimentation with drugs. By the late '90s, her drug use began cutting into her previously reliable professionalism. In 2000, she was supposed to sing "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" at the Oscars but was high at rehearsal and couldn't remember the words. She was booted from the show.
In an interview with Jane magazine that same year, she was asked to compare hanging out with a president to hanging out with a junkie. She replied, "Just the same. The president gets off on the country. The junkie gets off on a couple of hits." Speaking with Diane Sawyer in 2002, when asked if she was using hard drugs, she replied, "First of all, let's get one thing straight. Crack is cheap. I make too much money to ever smoke crack. Let's get that straight. OK? We don't do crack. We don't do that. Crack is wack." But in 2009, she confessed to Oprah Winfrey, "We were lacing our marijuana with base. We were buying kilos and ounces and ounces. I didn't even think about the singing part anymore."
There is a tendency among the general public to blame all this on Bobby Brown, but her former sister-in-law Monique Houston countered this in speaking with Newsweek last year. "Drugs were around her for years before she met Bobby and continued after he left," she said. "It was worse when they were together, but he didn't cause it." Closer to the truth is the theory that Houston was struggling with her self-identity. A former assistant told Newsweek, "She was trying hard to be this kind of prissy, girly-girl people wanted her to be, but she wasn't. That took its toll."