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Presley's death renews focus on substance abuse

It's still not known what caused Lisa Marie Presley's death, but she was very open about her decades-long illness of addiction.

NEW ORLEANS — Over the last several years, life expectancy in the U.S. has dropped because of deaths from substance use.

Lisa Marie Presley's death, and her transparency about addiction, has renewed the focus on those who struggle with substance abuse. 

It's still not known what caused Lisa Marie Presley's death, but she was very open about her decades-long illness of addiction. 

There was substance abuse as young as 13 years of age, and as an adult, painkillers or opioid pills were prescribed to her after her twins were born. That led to the inability to stop taking them.

Kevin Gardere understands. A prescription for pain pills can lead to a years-long dependence.

“The whole time I was dying on the inside. Eventually lost, lost my marriage, you know, restricted visitation of my daughter, and I lost my job, and was spiraling downhill, and was down to like 125 pounds,” said Kevin Gardere, The Executive Director of Development at Bridge House Grace House.

And that's not all he lost. The DWI car wreck as a teen took a kidney and his spleen and lead to the loss of a leg.

“Your drug of choice becomes your best friend. That becomes more important than anything else,” he remembers.

“Addiction hits on the reward systems of the brain which are deep in, deep within the brain. It's not a cognitive, logical disease, and it shuts down the reasoning part of the brain,” explained psychiatrist and addiction medicine specialist Dr. José Calderon-Abbo, the Medical Director of Imagine Recovery.

Dr. Calderon says highly publicized cases like Presley’s can move people to ask for treatment and get rid of the stigma of asking.  

“It brings it to the forefront of their mind, they say ‘OK, maybe it is time.’ It reminds us, number one, addition impacts everybody regardless of age, socioeconomic status, race, everything, right?” said Dr. Calderon.

Kevin has been sober since 2001. It credits the treatment at Bridge House Grace House. In his career, he now helps many others through the program and has a new family.


If you have insurance coverage, look on the back of your card for the behavioral health services line.

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