Always in the spotlight, Michael Jackson was the star whose electric career captivated audiences and garnered fanatically loyal fans across the globe.
Yet his later years were mired in controversy with failed marriages, rumors of health problems, and even accusations of child molestation.
Following his death at age 50, news of Michael Jackson’s death dominated media around the globe.
Fans were out in the streets and tributes poured in from celebrities and politicians like Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela.
Yet with the grief came questions about the stars final days. The circumstances were murky and people were left wondering how exactly did Michael Jackson die.
Let’s take a look at a few of the key events that led up to the star’s fateful death, noting how old Michael Jackson was when he died and when exactly when it was Michael Jackson died.
How did Michael Jackson die?
On June 25th, 2009 Michael Jackson died of a cardiac arrest at the age of 50, as a result of a deadly cocktail of sedatives and an anesthetic, propofol, which was administered by his physician, Conrad Murray.
It was later concluded the death was a homicide and Murray was charged with involuntary manslaughter in November 2011.
Yet the story of Michael’s death has its roots in the pop star’s deteriorating health over the last 20 years of his life.
It is claimed he suffered from an eating disorder, stress, insomnia, and notably, a reliance on prescription medication.
It was this last fact th
at was said to play a key role in the events culminating in the death of Michael Jackson when he was rushed to the Ronald Reagan UCLA medical center on that fateful day.
The day before
The 24th of June saw Michael in rehearsals for his final This Is it comeback tour. Nothing seemed amiss that day at the Staples Centre in downtown Los Angeles, with fellow performers stating that he seemed on top form.
The rehearsal even went on past midnight and afterward, though afterward Jackson still found the time to greet fans that gathered outside the gate of his residence on North Carolwood Drive in the Holmby Hills.
Problems began when, after arriving home, he complained of fatigue and insomnia.
The morning of June 25th
Michael Jackson’s physician, Conrad Murray administered the star a series of drugs over the course of the early hours to help him sleep.
Concern was raised later when Michael failed to leave his room
The afternoon of June 25th
Murray found the star unresponsive and no longer breathing, though he claimed he still had a weak pulse.
He attempted to revive Jackson, though statements have questioned his CPR technique and the fact he chose to do it on a soft bed rather than a hard surface.
Questions also arose regarding the time it took Murray to get help. Notably, there was no landline phone in the residence and Murray stated he didn’t know the address well enough to call paramedics by mobile.
As a result, 30 minutes passed before security at the North Carolwood Drive property eventually made the call to paramedics.
Emergency services performed CPR there for 42 minutes before rushing Jackson to the hospital.
Here, emergency services attempted to resuscitate Jackson. After over an hour the star was pronounced dead.
Michael Jackson died at 2:26 pm on the afternoon of June 25, 2009 at the Ronald Reagan UCLA medical center.
How old was Michael Jackson when he died?
Jackson was 50 years old at the time of death.
Autopsy and subsequent investigation
The Los Angeles County coroner determined that Jackson’s death was a homicide as a result of combined drug intoxication.
The toxicology report suggested the most important drug found was propofol, an anesthetic associated with cardiac arrest. However, lidocaine, ephedrine, and lorazepam were also found within Jackson’s system.
The finding relates to broader questions regarding Jackson’s health and history of drug use during his later years.
Following his death, police found drugs in his home, including some made out to false names.
Statements were also made by family members, former doctors, and
associates expressing concern over Michael’s weight and continued use of prescription medication.
The finding that Jackson died of a propofol overdose led to Conrad Murray being charged with involuntary manslaughter on February 8th, 2010.
The physician was sentenced to four years in jail over his role in Jackson’s death. However, he was released in only two as a result of good behavior. His license to practice medicine in California remains suspended.
The broader reaction to the superstar’s death was considerable.
There was a widespread outpouring of grief from fans and celebrities across the world and groups gathered outside the gates of his Neverland Ranch and hometown of Gary, Indiana. No less than Barack Obama stated later that the star would “go down in history as one of our greatest entertainers.”
When Did Michael Jackson’s Drug Addiction Begin?
Prior to leaving the Jackson 5 in 1984, Jackson and the other members of the group filmed a Pepsi commercial. During a simulated concert, pyrotechnics accidentally set Jackson’s hair on fire, causing second-degree burns to his scalp. To help him with the pain from the severe burns and the reconstructive surgeries that followed, Jackson’s doctors prescribed opioids.
Later, Jackson would attribute the fire to the beginning of his experience with drug addiction. In one statement, he said, “I remain out of the country. I have been undergoing treatment for dependency on pain medication. This medication was initially prescribed to soothe the excruciating pain that I was suffering after recent reconstructive surgery on my scalp.”
In 1993, Jackson entered rehab where he progressed through a 12-step program. Despite his commitment to recovery, he continued to live with substance addiction for the rest of his life. By the time of his death in 2009, Jackson was receiving daily doses of OxyContin, a strong prescription opioid used to manage severe pain, and was regularly taking Demerol and anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications. He also had numerous track marks that indicated intravenous drug use.
Aside from his time in rehab, Jackson was largely in denial of his addiction. Friends and family routinely staged interventions and privately expressed their concerns regarding his drug habits. Unfortunately, Jackson turned down their help.
Jackson died in 2009 at age 50 of cardiac arrest. His death was caused by a combination of sedatives and propofol, which his doctor prescribed and administered to treat insomnia. Propofol is a general anesthetic used to cause relaxation and sleepiness for and during major surgeries. It works by lowering the individual’s blood pressure and slowing their breathing, making it very important for the individual to be closely monitored. His doctor was ultimately charged with and found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
Addiction Is a Common Struggle
While Michael Jackson’s career success set him apart, his experience with opioid misuse and reliance on addictive sedatives is far too common. Anyone who takes opioids or sedatives, even if they were given a prescription, is at risk of developing an addiction. Certain factors, such as living in high-stress environments or having mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression, make some people more vulnerable to becoming addicted.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, roughly a third of people prescribed opioids go on to misuse them, and about one in 10 people who take a prescription opioid for chronic pain becomes addicted. Among people who use heroin, about 80 percent misused opioids prescribed to help them manage pain.
Despite stereotypes, anyone can develop an addiction regardless of where they live, their level of education, income, and family status.
What Caused Michael Jackson’s Drug Addiction?
In Jackson’s case, star status was likely a contributing factor to his addiction because it ensured easy access to strong medications available only by prescription. While Jackson’s drug use was extensive, his lawyers said that there was no evidence at the time of Jackson’s death that he used more painkillers than his doctor prescribed.
Instead, his lawyers contended that AEG Live executives were negligent for paying a doctor $150,000 per month to treat Jackson. This salary made it very difficult for the doctor, whose own financial situation was precarious, to deny Jackson’s request for strong medications. In court, Jackson’s longtime dermatologist blamed the doctors who prescribed these drugs for Jackson’s addiction and ultimately his death, calling them criminals.
Learning from Michael Jackson’s Experience with Addiction
Michael Jackson’s story ultimately ended with tragedy. Like many living with substance abuse, Jackson was unable to admit that he needed help. While every person is responsible for their own addiction and recovery, there are environmental circumstances that can make it very difficult to maintain sobriety. For many caught up in addiction, social factors can hinder long-term success.
Entering rehab is an important first step to change, but lasting recovery depends on what happens after the individual completes their treatment program and is reintegrating into society. Those who enter back into their pre-rehab routines and relationships may have a very difficult time incorporating the skills they learned. It’s much easier to fall back into old patterns and go back to using drugs or alcohol than it is to incorporate new habits and healthier coping skills.
The average person living with addiction doesn’t have access to a doctor whose financial security depends on their ability to provide the drugs their patient requests. However, they likely have their own network of enablers who provide them with the substances they’re addicted to or play a role in normalizing addictive behavior.
Stories such as Michael Jackson’s can effectively illustrate the importance of having strong social networks of people who support each other’s mental health and sobriety. For families and friends, this may underscore the need for providing regular check-ins and encouragement after addiction rehab. For the individual seeking sobriety, it can be a reminder of the importance of connecting with those who support recovery and cutting ties with those who enable drug or alcohol use.
Finally, Jackson’s story shows the importance of choosing ethical health care providers. In recent years, the public has paid more attention to the incentives doctors get for prescribing opioids, which undoubtedly resulted in far more people being exposed to addictive painkillers than necessary. One recent study showed that health care providers are still prescribing opioids at rates much higher than those of other developed nations. To help individuals reduce their risk of developing an opioid addiction, t
Addiction is treatable, but it’s nearly impossible to reach recovery without professional help.