Series Overview:
– Welcome to the world of PENsive: from the mind and pen of Artist Damon Kardon. This is a weekly editorial cartoon satirizing the social ills of our time, especially what Damon finds most perplexing in the music/arts, social media and political industries.

About the Sketch:
– It is inevitable, we are all going to perish from this earth one day. Over the last few years, my generation has seen many of its musical innovators die. When Michael Jackson passed away, I was really affected because he was such a major figure in pop culture throughout my childhood. Since then, we have had to say goodbye to so many artists… David Bowie, Tom Petty, Prince, Aretha Franklin, Gregg Allman, and Chris Cornell to name a few. Some we lost to cancer, others to suicide and depression. We’ve seen some of our great heroes pass on and think it is just the cycle of life, but there is a growing concern when it comes to “accidental overdose”. This isn’t like decades past where we lost musicians to addiction to heroin or alcohol or a mix of street drugs and depression. We are deep in an age where their prescriptions, which may well be keeping them going as a touring musician, could also kill them. The drugs keep getting stronger and the dangers of mixing them (with just one drink) have proven to be deadly.

The official cause of death of Tom Petty and Prince were by “accidental overdose”. For Petty, he was treating his fractured hip pain with several pain medications including Fentanyl and Oxy. These are serious drugs and someone can become very dependent and addicted to them. Where is the due diligence by his doctor to consider other options for someone with a history of drug dependence? Let alone if he was in such bad shape that he should not have kept touring with a fractured hip, maybe there were too many “yes” men around him telling him to keep on going and just self-medicate.

Check out the full-resolution version of the PENsive #9 sketch.


The same goes for Chris Cornell. When he died, I cried. I haven’t felt that way in such a long time, but he inspired me so much growing up. He died from suicide, but it was his dependence on prescription drugs that altered his state of being. He had recently taken Ativan (which needs to be prescribed) to combat anxiety but was mixed with other drugs he had been taken and alcohol. I have to think that if he was never prescribed Ativan (and more was done to look into his history of drug dependence by his doctor) he would still be here. Maybe he could have sought the treatment he needed for drug dependence prior to touring again.

Overall, I am not saying that the blame for these deaths falls squarely on doctors or people who surround these musicians. I know you need to take responsibility for yourself and your actions first and foremost. I am just worried we move so quick in this world to solve our problems with a pill, we don’t really stop and examine how the side effects could really hurt us. I definitely believe there is a need for prescriptions drugs in our world and they can be life-savers. But overall, we need to put more emphasis on the “care” in Healthcare and stop treating it as such a business. More and more, pharma and doctors are starting to resemble the drug dealers on the street, where priority #1 is to sell-sell-sell and the consumer becomes less of a concern.

A video, of which there are MANY, covering Ativan withdrawal.