But her marriage to Brown would have long-term consequences both personally and professionally. He would be arrested several times over the years on charges ranging from DUI to failure to pay child support. In a two-part interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2009, Houston revealed the drama that defined their relationship.
"He spit on me," Houston told Winfrey about one of more disturbing anecdotes. "He spit on me. He actually spit on me. And my daughter was coming down the stairs and she saw that."
While contending that he was not physically abusive -- though he slapped her while on probation and had to go to domestic violence court -- she did admit emotional abuse ran rampant in what she called a "passionate, loving ... crazy relationship."
Houston called Brown "her drug," adding that she "didn't do anything without him."
She also shed light on their actual substance abuse issues: Marijuana laced with cocaine was their substance of choice, and they "would have ounces" of cocaine available at all times.
"You put [cocaine] in your marijuana, you lace it, you smoke it," she told Winfrey.
"They were enabling each other," Drew said.
"If you watched her interview with Oprah Winfrey, she said the point where she started to decline was when her father died and she never recovered," he added.
Their daughter, Bobbi Kristina, born in 1993, was seen as their one crowning achievement.
"Bobbi Kristina basically grew up her mother's caretaker, similar to Francis Bean, Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain's daughter," Drew said. "In a way she was the adult in the relationship."
Though the six-time Grammy winner seemed headed for a comeback with her 2009 album "I Look to You" and her recent remake of the movie "Sparkle" with Justin Sparks, she was "very much struggling to hold it together," Billboard's Danyel Smith said.
She turned back to the church that had once nurtured her. "She was getting very much back into singing gospel songs and going go back to the faith that had sustained her in her earlier years," Smith said.
According to Drew, the last performance she gave, last Thursday at Kelly Price's For The Love Of R&B Grammy Party at Tru Hollywood, was of the children's song, "Jesus Loves Me."
Smith said, Houston was also "trying to nurture and take care of her voice."
But it appears it was too late.
"The tragedy of her life isn't even so much her death, but that her voice for all purposes was gone before then," Smith said. "We can not even begin to imagine the effect that had on her."
The Associated Press contributed to this report