Addiction is an awful thing. It’s something that seems to be a topic on the news a lot lately, and it’s unfortunate that it takes tragedies for it to be spoken about so much and discussed so openly.
Unless you were completely unplugged this weekend and disconnected from society, you know that Amy Winehouse was found dead in her London apartment. A talented young woman dead at just the age of 27. A woman who publicly struggled with addiction, and who, ironically, was perhaps most well-known for her hit song “Rehab“.
Twitter was a-fire with the news of her passing. Comments on Facebook were plenty, some honoring the young talent and expressing sympathies, others sharing their feelings of disgust of a life wasted. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, of course. My opinion, no life is ever a waste. Every human being is worth something.
Addiction affects not only the addict but their family unit and those closest to them. This morning the news flashed footage of Winehouse’s parents arriving at her London flat. I feel for them. Some people might argue that they should have done more for their daughter; they should have forced her to into sobriety. The fact is a person can’t be forced; only when someone is ready to be sober can they begin their personal journey toward a better way of life.
Also in the news, the upcoming HBO documentary, “There’s Something Wrong With Aunt Diane” a look at the infamous and horrifying 2009 crash on New York State’s Taconic Parkway in which Diane Schuler drove in the wrong direction ending in the deaths of eight people including Schuler, her own daughter, her three nieces and three gentlemen who were in the vehicle she crashed into head-on. Tests showed she had been driving with marijuana and the equivalent of 10 shots of alcohol in her body.
In a Today Show segment this morning covering the death of Winehouse and a dialogue on addiction, it was stated that last year in the US 100,000 people died alcohol-related deaths. That’s just alcohol. Imagine what the number for substance abuse-related deaths as a whole must be.
I imagine that the Winehouse family must be going through a lot of emotions. Sadness and grief for a loved one lost. Anger for what Amy did and didn’t do and for what they feel they perhaps should have or could have done. Those feelings of anger are probably something they’re all too familiar with. Feelings they’ve most likely tried to deal with throughout Amy’s life as an addict.
I am by no means an expert on addiction or alcoholism, but I have known and loved people who have struggled with these demons. Watching someone you love disappearing before you is awful, and, I think, harder on the people watching because they are completely aware of everything happening as the addict is living in a world of denial. Your heart breaks repeatedly and your stomach twists and contorts in ways you never thought it could, leaving you with a constant, nagging pain because you know you can’t do anything to help them until they are ready to help themselves; until they are ready to step out of the comfortable state of denial and into the much more complicated world of reality. It’s amazing how alcohol and drugs can consume your life, especially when you’re not the one consuming them.
I wish peace for the Winehouse family and for those who loved her. I wish peace for the families affected by the Taconic crash. I wish peace for anyone affected by addiction. Moments of tragedy give us the opportunity to learn, to discuss, to share. No life is a waste, but if we don’t take something from these moments of sadness, of mourning we will have wasted a chance to make a difference. A chance to perhaps stop at least one more potential tragedy from happening in the future.
- Amy Winehouse: What Your Reaction to Her Death Means to Me (dangerouslee.biz)
- Russell Brand Pens ‘To Amy’ (divamission.wordpress.com)
- VIDEO: Amy Winehouse ‘leaves a gaping hole’ (bbc.co.uk)
- A Pathway to Peace (Cupcakes & Cat Food)