I want to say something about Addiction right now. I have to say that I am really disappointed in the response in the media to Amy Winehouse’s death. The lack of human compassion surrounding her death is really sick. I get where some of it is coming from: the glorification of a person post-mortem, especially when that person is a junkie. Also, presented alongside the tragedy unfolding in Norway, reporting on this self-harmer seems unseemly. Those people, those CHILDREN did not want to die and cleary this musician “did”. I get that.
What strikes a nerve with me are all of the words and phrases infusing the comments section of almost every article I read: “junkie”, “piece of shit”, “good riddance”, etc. I happen to be very close to people who struggle with addiction and I have seen many people turn their backs on them. It’s easy to turn your back on someone who you perceive to be self-harming. It’s easy to say that it is a “choice” when you don’t understand that there is no “choice” involved. Addiction is a very complicated issue. It is known as a “family disease” and I stand firm behind that classification. The devastation that addiction can have on a person and ALL of the people around them is immense. The lack of compassion is fierce because it is seen as this person is doing this to themselves intentionally. You don’t get cancer intentionally but you intentionally get alcoholism or drug addiction. I can say that any form of addiction is a disease and must be treated as such. Along the same line of thought, however, addiction is its own disease with it’s own intricacies. You simply can’t help an addict all the way down the line, they must do it for themselves. Eventually the people around them HAVE to let go and let that person find their bottom OR find their legs to get stable and get things done for themselves. I have had to do this in my life and it is incredibly difficult.
When Kristyn told me that Amy Winehouse had died, I was like, “WHAT?! NO!” I’m not an Amy Winehouse fan at all but when you are close to an addict, your worst fear is that addict’s death. I literally cannot watch “Intervention”, it hits way too close to home for me. As the family of an addict, you cannot help but hope “maybe this is the time that will fix everything, maybe this is the time they’ll get better” even if you’ve seen them fall a million times. It’s because you LOVE that person and you would give up all three wishes of a genie’s lamp to eradicate THEIR life of addiction. Their health would mean your happiness. So when you hear of someone else’s addict dying, you can’t help but internalize that feeling a bit and panic, even if YOUR addict is well.
Ah I can’t get into the complexities of this thing here. It’s way too deep and way too much. I just wanted to say that human beings have a tendency to group things together and declare one “good” and the other “bad”. Amy Winehouse died on a weekend that tremendous tragedy is going on in Norway. That tragedy is an unimaginable horror. I just don’t think it necessitates comparing the two and calling this woman “trash”. This woman, public eye or not, was someone’s daughter and she had yes men, enablers and tons of cash. She was never going to get well and she was never gonna hit bottom because had way too many safety nets under her. My heart just breaks for her family and I send them all of my love.
I read Russel Brand’s tribute to Amy Winehouse this weekend and he really hit the nail on the head when he said this:
When you love someone who suffers from the disease of addiction you await the phone call. There will be a phone call. The sincere hope is that the call will be from the addict themselves, telling you they’ve had enough, that they’re ready to stop, ready to try something new. Of course though, you fear the other call, the sad nocturnal chime from a friend or relative telling you it’s too late, she’s gone.
Frustratingly it’s not a call you can ever make it must be received. It is impossible to intervene.