Kevin Winter/Getty Images
After word broke on Tuesday that Cory Monteith had died of an overdose of heroin and alcohol, E! News spoke with a drug and alcohol recovery expert in hopes of gaining some insight into the late Glee star's substance abuse struggles.
Howard Samuels, founder and CEO of The Hills treatment center and author of Alive Again: Recovering from Alcoholism and Drug Addiction, told E! News he believes it wasn't the pressures of Hollywood that were to blame, but that the 31-year-old's recovery was made even more difficult because he was a successful actor.
"When he is in charge of his finances, it's hard to pull an intervention on someone like that," said Samuels. "And also, when you have an actor who's got some fame and fortune to him, there's a tendency that people who ran to him won't be as rigid telling him, 'No, you can't leave.' They may put up some resistance, but in the end, he's in control of their jobs. And he's in much more of a power position to sort of do what he wants."
Samuels said he believes the problem was that Monteith did not stay in rehab long enough.
"If you're going to go into a treatment with a serious addiction problem, you don't stay 30 days. You stay three to six months to a year. That's what the treatment usually calls for," noted Samuels.
Christopher Polk/Getty Images for VH1
And if a person is doing heroin, Samuels recommends even more time in treatment.
"When you have such a dangerous affliction like that, you can do maybe primary residential treatment for 30 days, but then you really have to move to a sober living house for the next three to six months to really instill sobriety in you and make sobriety the most important thing in your life," said Samuels. "That's really the only way an addict can really stay sober. And I think that he made an unfortunate, tragic mistake by leaving after 30 days."
Samuels added that Monteith going back to old stomping grounds so soon after completing treatment was also not advisable for someone trying to turn his life around.
"I mean, even the fact that he went up to Vancouver, where he's from, where I'm sure there's a lot of his old friends who use drugs, was a horrible, horrible decision on his part," said Samuels. "So I definitely don't think that he took the recommendations from the treatment center."
Samuels added that recovering addicts can also be very manipulative and persuasive convincing others they were over the worst, using himself as an example.
"That's who we are. I mean, I manipulated everybody in my life. Everybody thought I was so in control. Meanwhile, I'm doing heroin behind everyone's backs and being so out of control."
And even though Monteith was a Hollywood star, Samuels doesn't feel it made it hard for him to ask for help.
"I don't think him being an actor or well-known would have hindered him saying to his friends that were close, 'Hey, I need help.' He did that. That's why he went to treatment to begin with," said Samuels. "Unfortunately, he didn't ask for enough help. And he only went halfway. And that's the sad thing. I've worked in this business for 20 years. I know a lot of dead people. And that goes hand in hand with addiction. He died of the disease of addiction like he would have died if he had cancer."
Samuels insists a sober living situation would have been a good option.
"I'm a big believer in that you do inpatient for 30, 45, 60 days, but then you do sober living, where you live in a somewhat structured halfway house when you still have a counselor and you still have a support system and still very close to recovery, but you're going out during the day to work," said Samuels. "And you go to work, you go to your 12-step meeting, you go have dinner with other recovering people, you still get to see your girlfriend, and you start to re-enter life, but in a very recovering-minded way. He didn't do that. He just left, which to me, was his biggest mistake. It's like leading a lamb to slaughter. If you go back out into the world without the support and without that sort of balance and without re-entering your own life slowly, you then get very overwhelmed and you start quickly doing your old behavior, which to me, looks like he did. And he died as a result."
Samuels concluded by saying, "I do think that the one thing that is very important is relapse is part of recovery. It's a part of the recovery process. Unfortunately, not all people get through the relapse alive. And that's what happened in this case. And that's why when you relapse, you're taking your life in your own hands. And that's the sad thing that not many people recognize. They don't recognize that you can die because everyone thinks they're going to live forever. And that's what's so tragic here."
Meanwhile, a source confirmed to E! News on Wednesday that Monteith's girlfriend Lea Michele, and other friends of the actor, did not know he was using heroin again.
If you or someone you know needs help with addiction issues, contact Narcotics Anonymous (http://www.na.org).