03/10/2012 11:53 EST | Updated 05/10/2012 05:12 EDT

Whitney is Latest Poster Girl for Overdose Epidemic

With Whitney Houston's death still fresh for many who loved her, it's also a snapshot of a rising problem -- prescription drug addiction.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has labeled this emerging form of drug abuse a "national epidemic." Prescription drugs are the cause of more deaths by overdose than street drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine.

Prescription drugs are easy to obtain. Many people can practically order their prescription drug of choice online and have it delivered to their front door," says Dawn Christie, Holistic healer and celebrity interventionist.

Celebrities have friends, doctors, people who work for them who get them these drugs. Instead of being their alarm and saying NO, they fear that they themselves will lose the chance to work for these celebrities and be their friends and live in that lifestyle if they speak up or say no.

Drug overdose death rates in the U.S. have more than tripled since 1990. The 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that about seven million people regularly use prescription drugs for non-medical purposes.

Prescription medications for pain and anxiety are particularly potent and highly addictive, and they can be lethal if combined with alcohol or other narcotics.

"Prescription drug addiction is on the rise because people are not as spiritually connected to themselves or their beliefs as they should be and thus turn to other means of suppressants to help them cope with their tumultuous lives," says Christie.

What is also alarming is that the abuse is particularly prevalent among teenagers. The CDC reports that one in five high school students school has taken a prescription drug without a doctor's prescription. Many teens are getting these drugs from friends and family because they are easy to obtain.

But the number of adults who are abusing prescription drugs is also on the rise; between 1995 and 2002, the number of substance abuse treatment admissions for people 55 and older increased by 32 percent. When you hear celebrities like Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston who struggled with drug addiction in their adult years, it puts prescription drug abuse into the mainstream spotlight.

"When we see famous people with addiction problems, we have a tendency to turn their struggles and failures into our entertainment and we fail to remember that these are real people, with real feelings and real demons," says Christie.

"They need privacy and they need support just like anyone else."