The only child of the late superstar Whitney Houston and R&B singer-songwriter Bobby Brown, Bobbi Kristina, referred to as “Krissi” by family and close friends, was found unresponsive in a bathtub on Jan. 31, 2015. Considering Bobbi’s childhood and adulthood have been filled with turbulence and wrought by emotional chaos, she cannot be held fully accountable for her current tragic situation.

Bobbi’s unfortunate fate is a byproduct of the dysfunctional relationship that her parents shared, fueled by their history of substance abuse. Substance abuse is a serious matter that impacts many families, and, despite their celebrity, Bobbi’s family is no exception. Houston and Brown’s well-documented 15-year marriage was riddled with reports of substance abuse and Brown’s run-ins with the law. In the epicenter of that chaos was their beloved child Bobbi, who unfortunately suffered the fallout of the dysfunction.

The drugs that consumed Houston and Brown’s lives and marriage without a doubt affected the life of their daughter. Houston, who made an appearance on “Oprah” back in 2009, seven years after her last public interview, said that her then ex-husband Bobby had “laced marijuana with rock cocaine” when they used to be together, and that by 1996, “[doing drugs] was an everyday thing … I wasn’t happy by that point in time. I was losing myself.”

I do not pretend to be an expert on the effects on how the presence and abuse of heavy drugs, or any drugs used by a parent, can have on a child’s development. However, it seems to me that, given the young age Bobbi would have been during the time that her parents were heavily addicted to illegal substances, she would have experienced emotional trauma that, along with the untimely death of her mother, would have rendered her impressionable in her later years and impacted her choices.

Addiction is a growing issue in our society and one that is oftentimes unaddressed or accepted when it is perceived to be affecting a public icon. More frequently it seems that well-known figures suffering from addiction either experience their condition as being commercialized for tabloid fodder, or being swept under the rug for publicity concerns. The problem with both of these courses of action, however, is that it does not address the issue at heart: that the disease destroys lives and will only perpetuate in one form or another for the child who knows nothing other than the life that his or her parent has been drawn into.

Tragically, the fate of children who have a parent or parents suffering like Bobbi’s is that they will, at some point, have to decide whether they will follow in the destructive footsteps of their parents or shape their own healthier lifestyle. Often, as it appears to be the case here, the cycle of addiction consumes a family. Sadly, Bobbi is not only a victim of her parents’ disease, but also a sufferer of the disease’s public exploitation. Although authorities have not indicated whether or not drugs were involved in this latest tragedy, it is probably safe to say that the use and abuse of illegal drugs by Houston and Brown sealed the fate of Bobbi long before she had a chance to make her own choices.

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