Anne Heche May Not Have Had a 'Choice' on Drug Abuse

Writing for NBC, Elizabeth Grey slams lack of compassion for those suffering from addiction
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 16, 2022 8:24 AM CDT
Updated Aug 20, 2022 12:00 PM CDT
Anne Heche Didn't Deserve 'Vitriol' for Drug Abuse
Anne Heche arrives at the Directors Guild of America Awards on March 12 in Beverly Hills, Calif.   (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

On Sunday, Anne Heche's death was confirmed after the actor was taken off life support, just days after the 53-year-old's fiery car crash in Los Angeles. "I wonder whether it’s enough to satisfy those who have been calling for her head," Elizabeth Grey writes in an opinion piece for NBC News. "They have it now." Grey is referencing the "vitriol" that Heche, and some of her supporters, received after details emerged on her accident, including that drugs had been found in her system, and that the woman whose home she hit lost everything she had. They're facts that Grey says shouldn't preclude the ability to feel empathy for Heche's own pain and struggles with drug abuse. The one word that Grey latches onto in the online slams she's seen is "choice"—a word that Grey, who speaks from experience, doesn't think applies to drug addiction.

"For me, the compulsion to use drugs never felt like a choice," she writes. "It felt like a lightning strike. The rational part of my brain shut down." Grey notes that those in deep with substance abuse often can't fight the compulsion to use, and that it's an illness that needs to be treated, not bashed. She cites a 2020 article from the American Medical Association's Journal of Ethics, in which the authors implore medical professionals to "recognize addiction not as a moral failing but as a treatable disease." "We can't be wished into good sense," Grey writes of herself and other addicts. "We can't be shamed into behaving well. Eventually we die or hit bottom." She notes the lucky ones do the latter, and get help from there, but in the meantime, "if compassion is to be doled out only to the best-behaved among us, I think ours is a very cruel world." Read Grey's essay in its entirety here. (More Anne Heche stories.)

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