Are We Responsible for Amy Winehouse’s Death?

Amy Winehouse at Eurockéennes de Belfort (Fest...
Addicted to addiction

By M. Alexander

We buy her albums that glorify addiction, albums that talk about her maintaining sickness instead of seeking health. We go to her concerts, reveling when she is too loaded to perform. We devour magazines depicting her as a train-wreck.

The Al-Anon program directs family members of alcoholics to stop enabling the one who is sick.  But as a public figure, she had the entire world enabling her habit.  A coworker told me that she got wasted singing-along to Amy Winehouse’s song Rehab, belting, “They tried to make me go to rehab, I said ‘No, no, no.’”

We enjoyed watching her choose death over life.

We might have enabled her continued downfall, but we should also pay heed to the other Al-Anon slogan, “We didn’t cause [her addiction], we can’t control [her addiction], and we can’t cure [her addiction].”  Though we are not culpable, we do need to take a look at the role society plays in standing idly by while people shatter into a million little pieces.

Our society is addicted to addiction.  We like to see the hero struggle, we feel better about ourselves when we see a picture of the “perfect” woman sporting cottage cheese on her legs, and we get a rush from seeing the heroin addict use.

In the recovery community, we need to defy this societal norm.  We need to be the example of health, of bettering our own lives.  People like Russell Brand and Eminem have shown that celebrities can get better.  They are open about their recovery and show that we do not have to glamorize addiction, but we can instead romanticize recovery.

We are not responsible for Amy Winehouse’s death.  We couldn’t do anything to save her.  If she wanted to use, she was going to use.  But we have a responsibility to be open about recovery, to show the world that for every person dying a tragic death, there is someone reclaiming their life with sobriety. To show that for those who want to better their lives, to save their own souls, there is a way.  We can and will lead the way— if they are willing to take the necessary steps away from death and toward life.

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5 thoughts on “Are We Responsible for Amy Winehouse’s Death?

  1. Michael,
    Thank you for writing this. You said things that must be said, but often aren’t. And, btw, your writing style is superb. As a grateful member of Al-Anon, I am aware of a fourth “C” which is what you actually wrote about. Yes, we didn’t Cause the addition, nor can we Cure or even Control it….but we can Contribute to it.

    Kol ha kavod. It is a pleasure to read your work.

  2. Susan,

    Thank you for your comments. If we can contribute to it, can we contribute to minimizing it? If so, how do we do this?


    1. I think you’ve already answered your question… not idolizing the addiction, by not glorifying self-destructive behavior. The best we can ever do is offer understanding and support healthy behavior. I often say, “I will be the healthy you’s best friend….i will love and support you in any way I can. But I can’t befriend the you who does not want to get better.” Isn’t that what you’ve already said, and much more beautifully?


  3. Thank you for saying it.

  4. Susan,

    I think you draw a great distinction. We can love somebody without being their friend. Love is transcendent and will always be there whereas friendship is more conditional. We can withdraw friendship (physically being in their life, supporting their decisions, etc.), but we can never withdraw love (wanting them to get better, hoping for the best, deeply caring about their well-being, etc.)


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