There are all sorts of rumors about the actual cause of Amy Winehouse's death; however, even with all the speculation, most were not shocked by her passing. Winehouse's behavior on and off stage was a clear indication that she struggled with addictions. As Winehouse's family, friends and fans mourn her passing, the question will always remain: Could someone have done something to save Amy's life?
Addictions, whether to drugs, alcohol, sex, food, shopping or even exercise, can not only end up devastating the life of the addicted person, but they can also destroy the lives of the addict's family and friends as well. To watch a loved one destroy him or herself is excruciatingly painful and often filled with feelings of helplessness and guilt for not being able to "fix" the addict. Often, these loved ones try everything they can think of to help. They sacrifice their time, money and even their safety to save someone suffering from addiction(s).
However, as much as family and friends want to help, if the addicted person isn't ready, any and all actions will likely be fruitless. In the majority of cases, until the addict decides to change, attempts from outsiders to save them will not work. This can be a difficult pill to swallow in the face of certain destruction of a loved one. Did Winehouse's family and friends try to step in and rescue her from her entanglement in addictions? According to her hit song "Rehab," it sounds as if they did. In keeping with the norm in this type of position, Winehouse's lyrics clearly shouted "No, no, no" at the attempted help.
Frequently, the desire to help the addict is so strong that it will lead family and friends to sacrifice themselves and act in enabling ways. As an addiction progresses, it often changes the person's thought processes, perspectives, morals, behaviors and brain chemistry. Their reality becomes distorted, and they become manipulative and dishonest. In order to "feed" the addiction, the addict learns how to play on the sympathies of those who love and care for them. In all of their efforts to help save the addict, these family and friends can wind up emotionally, physically and financially depleted. Their intention is never to assist in the addiction, but unknowingly that's exactly what can happen, especially when dealing with someone who is addicted to drugs and/or alcohol.
For those millions who are watching the one they love slowly destroy themselves, there is something they can do. Begin by being honest -- face the reality of the situation. It's human nature to go into the protective mode of denial when things are extremely painful to face. However, in this case, looking at the truth is vital.
The second step is to become fully educated on the entire addiction process. There is a wealth of information available today which was unheard of in past generations. There are also a multitude of facilities and mental health professionals who specialize in addictions. These professional resources not only help the addicts but those who love them. Feel free to ask me if you're having trouble finding the resources you need to find help.
The third step is to actively seek help. It's commonly said that those closely involved with an addict become as sick as the addict themselves. Therefore, if you're living or dealing with a loved one who is addicted you may find you need your own guidance, too. There are mental health professionals all over the country who specialize in this area as well as free support groups, such as the Al-Anon program that provides free assistance for those in this situation.
The final step is to come to an understanding that addicts must have the desire to attain the help they need for true recovery to take place. This is not to say an addict knows how to get better on his or her own, they just need to want to get better. When this is truly understood, loved ones are able to take back their lives without guilt. This process allows them to set healthy boundaries with the addicted person and avoid toxic circumstances that had previously affected their lives.
Was Amy Winehouse ready to quit her addictions at the time of her death? We may never know. Did her loved ones understand they could not help her unless she wanted to help herself? The answers lie within these particular individuals. However, with Winehouse's global notoriety, it is hoped that her death will not be in vain. Though she cannot be brought back, her story can be told, understood and used to help those who suffer from addictions and to facilitate awareness for those that love them.