Mark S. King

The Final Surrender of Amy Winehouse

Filed By Mark S. King | July 23, 2011 7:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Living
Tags: addiction and recovery, alcoholism, Amy Winehouse, meth

amy_winehouse-4930.jpgAmy Winehouse has now joined the 27 Club: rock stars who died at the same impossibly young age, including Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Kurt Cobain.

She fought her addiction in the same way recovering addicts like me once did: by denying it, throwing it in your face, saying no to rehab and then saying yes, begrudgingly. Recovery from addiction demands a lot of us, but mostly it asks that we surrender to the baffling fact that the drugs are mightier than our best intentions, and to throw aside our pride (and, in Amy's case, the trappings of fame) long enough to find the humility necessary to start life again.

This weekend, Amy experienced her terrible, final surrender.

She was always easy to ridicule, of course. The beatnik getup, the mountain of hair extensions, and her well-documented drunken interviews and stage disasters. But lest we forget, we as LGBT people are far more likely to suffer from drug and alcohol abuse. Our community is intimately familiar with the wreckage of alcoholism and the seduction - and horrific consequences - of the crystal meth "party and play" scene.

I have witnessed talented and capable people come undone, despite their efforts to conquer their addictions. I hope the passing of Amy Winehouse will elicit empathy and sadness for the loss of life, and that we'll resist the urge to judge or blame her.

Amy didn't just produce music that reflected our heartaches and our hopes. Her disastrous final days reflected a dark corner of our own community. She was brilliant and she was trapped in disease. And she was a lot more like us than we might like to admit.

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What a sad, sad waste of a tremendous talent. Why no one could save this troubled young woman from her demons, I don't know. It's not enough to say we still have her music; the woman is gone. RIP Amy. You are missed.

bigolpoofter | July 23, 2011 9:08 PM

I was saddened and angry to read this news this afternoon, not so much by the loss of life and talent, but by how pop culture seemed to have ordained this ending months, if not years, ago. Pop star denies her addiction and checks herself out of rehab, and we continue to enable her self-destruction by buying her music, anticipating her drugged-out appearances, and clamor for news of her demise. As a society, we have no "bottom line." May Amy Winehouse be the last member we induct into the "27s"

The comments and buzz I'm hearing are about 50% sympathetic and 50% callous. In asking "Why should we care?", I wish I could direct every person to this short piece, Mark. You highlight simply and eloquently why we, as human beings, should care about the struggle Amy Winehouse faced and ultimately lost. She wasn't just some stubborn crazy chick. She was a person with a problem; a problem that is not unique at all to the common person walking down the street.

In callously scoffing at the miserable end to her addiction, are we not inviting someone else to scoff at our friends, mothers, fathers, siblings, or partners if or when they too find themselves faced this seemingly insurmountable challenge? And that is to say nothing about us finding ourselves in that same position.

I'm unable to express the degree of sadness this instills in me. To see this poor woman derided for a disease most people don't have a clue about how strong and hard to overcome is.

I also resent the vultures who surrounded this poor woman, obviously someone who had no friends, otherwise they wouldn't be putting her up drugged up into stage performances just to be booed off.

Her ending was cruel and tragic. I hate to think that we as a people might also have contributed some to the insurmountable pressures that sunk this woman out of life.

The unique sadness when this kind of death happens to a celebrity involves all of us, even though most of us would be strangers to the deceased. We witness it on a grand scale. We see it coming. We watch, sometimes with near glee, at a public crash and burn. And then, once they're gone, we idolize them for their talent. I'm always left thinking it seems nearly impossible to believe such a public figure couldn't find the help and guidance that often, thankfully, does come to us mere mortals.

Bottom line: addiction is not a joke... there are lots of people who were in her life who are devastated by her loss and will spend the rest of their lives feeling haunted by this and what led up to it. :(

There's nothing cool about dying of anything, actually. We glorify dying for pointless, stupid wars, for example.

Jimi died by accident, as arguably did Janis(she did OD) and Jim. Kurt wanted out.We don't know exactly what killed Amy, but we know that crack and alcohol accelerated it.

Amy couldn't get sober;this happens a lot, and not just to musicians. Amy was addicted to the most pernicious of drugs; crack cocaine. Sneering contempt over her "weakness" is similar to what led two hopeless drunks to form Alcoholics Anonymous in 1939.

It's like saying crossdressing or homosexuality is a "weakness".

We all have every right to be angry at people who destroy themselves; Amy just got out of rehab, in fact. I'm sad to say that when you sit in the circle of any recovery group, you will hear of some who relapse and can't make it. A friend of mine's son died of a heroin overdose because his college "friends" turned him on to it.Those of us who battle this are not "weak"; we have a disease and it gets the better of us when we don't talk it out or more importantly, find something greater than ourselves to believe in.

Some of us are born with dark, rebellious souls and that is what makes us great artists.If you listen to the lyrics of "Rehab" she says her soul was nourished by listening to Ray Charles and Donny Hathaway, not by talking about her problems; she couldn't face her problems and that's why she's dead. Other rebels, like me, are still angry with life, but we're sober; there but for the grace.

She was in pain, and now she's free.

Britney Austin | July 25, 2011 3:06 AM

I think it is time to stop the celebrity worship. Nearly 100 people, many of them younger than Ms. Winehouse were viciously shot to death recently in Norway. Yet the Norway massacre has already been placed at the back of the news to make room for this allegedly more important event. I think it is time to stop the political correctness and excuses. Ms. Winehouse made a series of bad decisions. Choices have consequences. It is time we as a culture get our priorities straight.

I partially agree with you and partially disagree with you. Drug and alcohol addiction are powerful illnesses and not as black and white as she made bad choices. She evidentially was not strong enough to get help for this illness and it ultimately killed her.
Now I do agree that it is absolutely rediculous heard death is getting the boat load of press after all of these people died in Norway. The US has become so celebrity obsessed we place too much value on those in the spotlight. I think we need to get a matter of perspective here in this country.