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Five celebrities whose lives were cut short by substance abuse

Published on Feb 3, 2014 3:05 PM

The sudden death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman is just the latest in a long line of celebrity deaths from substance abuse. We round up some of the most shocking cases in recent years. 

1. Corey Monteith, 31, May 11, 1982 - July 13, 2013

The death of Glee star Monteith was a bombshell, not only because of his clean cut image from the hit television series. He had confessed to a battle with addiction and had been admitted to rehab at 19 as well as in April before his death. He was found in a Vancouver hotel room. A coroner's report attributed the death to an accidental overdose of heroin and alcohol. 

2. Whitney Houston, 48, Aug 9, 1963 - Feb 11, 2012

She was the bestselling R&B female recording star of the 20th century, having sold more than 55 million albums in a career that spanned two decades. Her personal life often made the headlines in the second half of her life. Her good girl image was marred by her stormy relationship with bad boy soul singer Bobby Brown, which ended in divorce in 2007. Her voice had begun to fray in the early noughties, with shaky live performances and declining album sales, as drug addiction took its toll. She was found dead in the bathtub of the Beverly Hilton Hotel. An inquest found that she had cocaine, marijuana, anxiety prescription drug Xanax, muscle relaxant Flexeril as well as the allergy medication Benadryl in her system. Her death was ruled accidental.

3. Amy Winehouse, 27, Sept 14, 1983 - July 23, 2011

The British singer with the soulfully gritty voice found stardom singing about her battles with alcohol and drug addiction. Unfortunately she lost the long, rocky battle with her demons. She was found dead in her Camden flat. After two inquests, her death was ruled to be caused by accidental alcohol poisoning. She had a blood alcohol level five times the legal driving limit.

4. Michael Jackson, 50, Aug 29, 1958 - June 25, 2009

The King Of Pop was on the verge of a comeback, with a series of gigs at London's O2 arena before playing in Paris, New York and Mumbai. The 10 dates at O2 was increased to 50 after more than 1 million tickets were sold in two hours. But Jackson died from cardiac arrest in his home. In 2011, after protracted legal proceedings during which the pop star's dependence on prescription drugs was widely discussed, his doctor Conrad Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for his part in administering an overdose of propofol which led to Jackson's death. 

5. Heath Ledger April 4, 1979 - Jan 22, 2008

Only 28 when he was found dead in his Manhattan apartment, the Australian actor seemed set on the fast track to critical and commercial success. Starting life in Hollywood as a dime a dozen pinup boy, he distinguished himself from the pack with a couple of well-reviewed turns in serious movies such as Lords Of Dogtown (2005) and Brokeback Mountain (2005). His career seemed destined for superstardom as the buzz over his role as the Joker in The Dark Knight (2008) was growing to deafening levels even before the movie's release. But he died from “acute intoxication by the combined effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam and doxylamine” and his work on The Dark Knight was rewarded with a posthumous Oscar for best supporting actor.