Being self-taught and independent is something highly respected in today’s society. Malcom James McCormick, better known as Mac Miller, did not fall short in either of these areas. After years of success, the rapper tragically died of a drug overdose on September 7, 2018.

He was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on January 19, 1992. His interest in music began in high school, when he taught himself to play piano, drums, bass, and guitar. He began rapping when he was 14 and decided a year later to focus on hip-hop.

His first album ‘Blue Slide Park’ stood in the number one spot, being the first independently distributed debut to do so since 1995. After releasing his second album, in 2013 he started ‘REMember Music’ his own record label named after one of his friends who had died.

He later signed a contract for his personal recording label with Warner Bros. Records. He released his third and fourth album in 2015 and 2016 respectively. In 2018 he released his most recent album titled “Swimming.”

Many described him as a kind, caring and genuine person. This devastating loss has shown the incorrect ways we talk about addiction.

Addiction is a disease and should never be reduced to a choice the person made. Suicide by overdose is not simply a personal lack of willpower, addiction is a disease and many people, including celebrities, do not have access to mental health resources.

Singer Ariana Grande, his ex-girlfriend, is being blamed by many for his death. She is a grieving human being that has lost a loved one and should not be bombarded with anything other than support. Saying that his overdose is Grande’s fault supports the stigma that overdose and addiction is the fault of loved ones who, “could have saved them.”

Blaming Grande for leaving the relationship supports the toxic idea that people should stay in relationships if their partner is struggling mentally or physically to help or fix them. While it is never a bad thing to offer guidance or support, no one should be forced to stay in a relationship simply to help the other person.

Shaming addiction and treatment has led many people and celebrities to fight their disease in silence. In July singer Demi Lovato was hospitalized after an overdose, and was blamed for it, saying she “surrounded herself with enablers.” Shaming individuals struggling with addiction is a factor that actually keeps some from seeking treatment.

Changing how we talk about addiction, and providing resources to those who are, could make a major difference. Treating addiction as the disease that it is will reduce shaming and increase support to those struggling and seeking treatment. Mac Miller was an amazing artist who should be remembered as the genuine, kind person he was.