Speaking generally ... and probably stating the obvious...
where does drug dependence begin ?
surely with the first time you try it.
Not that I've had to deal with a drug addict personally (other than nicotine - and a sad story of a kid I used to coach who now has schizophrenia triggered by marijuana) ...
but I'd bet London to a brick that the average drug addict has been a nightmare to deal with (and probably always will be a worry at least) - probably ignored help from loved ones - taken years off everyone's life not just his or her own ....
everyone (including the addict) has been aware of where it was all heading for a long time ... but the addiction came first,
and a family just had to get used to the resultant suffering.
Maybe some (including some sporting heroes) are more affected than others - maybe some control themselves better than others ...
In the end, suppose (again hypothetical) that a sporting hero or a rock star dies,
a) are they promoted to superhuman, sins forgiven? "wasn't he brilliant!" etc
b) are they shown to be merely human - in fact probably on the weak side of average, due to the fact that they yielded to temptation - albeit bigger temptation. - My guess is the latter. And then - so much for the hero image - it gets left in tatters you would think.
Or in the wider community, suppose a difficult drug addict dies - is there (in some cases at least) almost a sense of relief?
Do we just try to remember that person as "they used to be pre-drugs", - when we could unreservedly laugh with them, (and reason with them for that matter) - when we had their full attention, and they didn't look around occasionally for a "fix" - whether nicotine or ecstacy or whatever. When there was no competition for that person's attention from some monkey on his or her back.
I was also curious about the management of a hypothetical sporting hero's image after a hypothetical drug related death. Slightly different point, but I recall someone in show biz in Vegas saying how difficult Elvis was to "manage" whilst he was alive (and frequently drug affected) -
and how easy he was to "manage" after he passed on.
"The difficult king is dead, long live the manageable king"