Whether or not addiction killed Amy Winehouse is a question that will remain unknown until the final coroner’s toxicology reports have been compiled and announced. However, one thing is for certain – the singer was plagued by severe substance abuse and alcohol problems that were captured in the public eye all too often. Numerous reports of assaults, coma and overdose were sometimes verified and sometimes not. Pictures taken by relentless paparazzi often depicted a young star that looked disheveled, emaciated, exhausted and intoxicated. And if it was indeed drug abuse and addiction that killed Amy Winehouse, then the road to death was – for this star and the others in the “27 Club” – very short.
Amy Winehouse became a musician and performer at an early age, first just singing and later taking up guitar. She was renowned for her sultry sound – she was one of the few professional contralto singers of her time, and is widely considered one of the best of all time in this classical range. Unfortunately, the singer was also well known for her bizarre behavior and sometimes blatant drug associations. Pictures of her to this day are publicly posted featuring poses of Winehouse with bongs, marijuana joints and other drug paraphernalia.
However, it wasn’t until Winehouse started using harder drugs like heroin, cocaine and ecstasy, that severe problems began to develop. The singer’s husband, who was usually involved in the many instances of drug and alcohol related spectacles with the star – including violent episodes, admitted to introducing Winehouse to these more dangerous and addictive drugs. (1) Unfortunately, this occurred at a time when the star’s fame was about to explode.
In 2006 Amy Winehouse’s second album, titled Back to Black, yielded her an astonishing 5 Grammy awards – the most ever for a British female singer. (2) The following year she won a number of other important awards in her industry, and her fame and public profile rose to new heights. However, it seemed that Winehouse was not equipped to deal with this level of stardom. Her managers and fans reported that she showed up late to major performances, unable to remember lyrics, song titles or even her band member’s names, and sometimes she would simply be too intoxicated to perform at all. Many of her concerts ended in either the fans or Winehouse walking away from the concert in disgust. In some instances Winehouse became violent with disgruntled fans. Pictures and video of these instances that are widely available on the web show a Winehouse that is almost certainly intoxicated on drugs or alcohol.
One Winehouse biography mentions these appearances in a description of the singer’s US tour:
“The first night of a 17-date U.S. tour opened to an incapacitated Winehouse, who showed up to perform while under the influence of illegal substances. The crowd at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham, Alabama, responded with boos and walk-outs. Winehouse responded to the crowd with sobbing and swearing. Her erratic behavior caused an uproar with fans and turned her into tabloid fodder.” (3)
Once the tabloids and weekly newsprints were involved, Winehouse seemed doomed. On several occasions she was reported to have been violent with reporters. Pictures and video constantly surfaced of the singer in compromising situations, including one video that nearly sent the star to jail. Many appear to show Winehouse either doing drugs or behaving strangely and seemingly under the influence of drugs. The press hounded the star in response to this to the point where she was forced to have a restraining order issued against them out of fear for her safety. The UK’s Guardian reported:
“Singer Amy Winehouse has fought back against paparazzi photographers keen to record every aspect of her troubled private life, winning a high court anti-harassment injunction and posting the ruling outside her new home in the London suburbs.” (4)
However, despite this landmark win against the press, it wasn’t long before they were back at it again, following her every move. Many people reasonably speculate that this type of public scrutiny only served to exacerbate the singer’s drug and alcohol problems as she turned to them more increasingly as a coping mechanism.
When not in the public eye, Winehouse spent most of her time with her husband and fellow drug user, Blake Fielder-Civil. Their on-again off-again relationship was a primary source of conflict and drama for the star, who has admitted publicly that their relationship was based almost exclusively on doing drugs together. The United Kingdom’s Biography stated:
“Winehouse’s tempestuous relationship with Fielder-Civil was the catalyst for much of her destructive behaviour. During one break-up Winehouse admitted to drowning her sorrows in booze but she also used the heart-break as impetus in writing her new album. Her drug and alcohol intake increasingly affected her live performances, as she turned up to several club or TV performances too drunk to complete her set. Her management company suggested she enter rehab but rather than take their advice Winehouse dumped the management company and turned the experience into the catchiest song on her new album . . .” (5)
The song referred to above, Rehab, was written after numerous attempts at addiction recovery – at times prompted by Winehouse’s father, at times by her record company, and at times by the singer herself. But with Rehab, Winehouse made it clear what her intention was:
“They tried to make me go to rehab, but I said no, no, no
Yes I’ve been black but when I come back you’ll know, know, know
I ain’t got the time and if my daddy thinks I’m fine
He’s tried to make me go to rehab but I won’t go, go, go” (6)
It may have been addiction or alcoholism that ultimately killed Winehouse, but her resistance to get help as indicated in the song Rehab significantly contributed to this. In fact, at this time her family has issued statements that they believe that the singer died as a result of Acute Withdrawal Syndrome related complications from withdrawing from a severe alcohol problem too quickly. (7) In an interview with MTV News, Dr. Dan Hall-Slavin of the Mayo clinic explains:
“From a clinical standpoint, you never tell anyone who has been actively drinking to just stop until they get into a monitored setting because alcohol is a central nervous system depressant and while some can stop and not experience problems, others with a previous history of alcohol withdrawal can experience very serious symptoms like seizures and a severe withdrawal called Delirium Tremens, where your temperature goes up, you become dehydrated, and you can die in that state.” (7)
Whatever the coroner’s results reveal, we can only hope that this troubled young star is finally at rest. But Amy Winehouse didn’t have to go it alone, and you don’t either. Whether you’re a famous musician or just a regular everyday citizen, there are drug treatment options available right now, and it’s not a bunch of hype. It works, and it just might save a life. Call the number at the top of your screen now to find out how.
(1) Biography.COM Amy Winehouse Biography
(2) Wikipedia Amy Winehouse
(3) Biography.COM Amy Winehouse Biography
(4) Ben Dowell and James Robinson Amy Winehouse Wins Court Ban on Paparazzi at her Home 05/01/2009
The Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2009/may/01/amy-winehouse-big-pictures-paparazzi-privacy
(5) Biography Channel United Kingdom Amy Winehouse Biography
(6) AZ Lyrics Amy Winehouse Lyrics – Rehab
(7) MTV News Amy Winehouse’s Death: Family Suspects Alcohol Withdrawal 07/29/2011