In 2006, Amy Winehouse burst into the international spotlight with her hit song “Rehab”. It seemed to be a foreshadowing of the years to come, as the singer eventually succumbed to alcohol poisoning in 2011 – at just the ripe age of 27.
Amy Winehouse a Life Cut Short by Alcohol
Amy was born September 14, 1983, in North London to parents Mitchell and Janis. Her interest in music manifested early on, having jazz musicians for uncles. She was a member of a rap group when she was young before she started singing for the Bolsha band.
In the year 2000, Amy became a member of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra. She was signed to 19 Management 2 years after, then to Island Music a few years later. She released her first album, “Frank”, in 2003, which gained her 2 nominations in the Brit Awards.
Amy released her second album “Back to Black” 3 years after. This eventually became Britain’s best-selling album for 2007. It carried her famous song “Rehab”, which Time Magazine named as the Best Song of 2007.
As Amy shot to fame, she started struggling with alcoholism and drug use. Spectators report the singer to be stumbling, swearing, and showing signs of intoxication. As such, many of her fans ended up booing her out of the stage. This prodded the singer to take a breather from her hectic tour schedule.
Despite her personal issues, Amy managed to bag the 2008 Grammy Awards for Record of the Year, Best Pop Vocal Album, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, and Song of the Year.
A Downward Spiral
Amy’s foray with alcohol and drug use started in 2005 when she was still working on her bestselling album “Back to Black”. It is believed that the death of her grandmother in 2006 led her to a path of addiction.
Her 2007 shows were eventually canceled since she was hospitalized due to an overdose of various substances. These included alcohol, cocaine, ecstasy, heroin, and ketamine. She eventually underwent a doctor-supervised program, before checking in to a two-week rehab program in 2008.
Despite these interventions, Amy’s devils got the best of her. She continued to drink and use drugs, and their effects on her health were apparent in her performances. In a 2009 St. Lucia festival, the crowd reported the singer to be unsteady – all the while forgetting the lyrics of her songs.
The pattern persisted up until 2011. In her Dubai performance, she seemed to be tipsy and distracted. The same happened in Belgrade, Ireland, where she was booed because she was too drunk to perform. As a result, she pulled out of her Istanbul and Athens shows to ‘sort’ herself out.
While it was said that Amy quit drugs in 2008, she continued to abuse alcohol. She managed to abstain for a few weeks, before relapsing to a drinking spree once again. She was treated by her physician with Librium for withdrawal. However, she continued to refuse her doctor’s advice to undergo psychological therapy.
Add to her addictions, she was also dealing with several conditions including depression, an eating disorder, and self-harm. To ease the pain of withdrawal, it was reported that Amy cut herself up.
Due to her chain crack cocaine habit, Amy eventually developed early-stage emphysema. Apart from having her lungs operate at only 70% capacity, she also suffered from irregular heartbeats.
More than just having physical and mental health issues, Amy had a level of hotheadedness. Unfortunately, this led to her several brush-ins with the law. As expected, many of these altercations occurred while Amy was under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. She was said to have punched a fan, attacked her ex-spouse, and slapped a man on the face.
Days before her death, Amy’s bodyguard reported her to be intoxicated. However, she was still well enough to laugh, listen to music, and watch TV. At 10 am on July 23, 2011, the same bodyguard tried to wake her up to no avail. This did not cause suspicion for him as the singer tended to sleep in after a night out.
When the bodyguard found her at the same position 5 hours after, he decided to check her breathing and pulse – both of which were absent. Emergency services arrived at the premises by 3:54 pm. Then and there, the personnel declaring Amy dead on the scene.
Forensic investigators found 3 bottles of vodka in her room. According to the coroner’s report, the singer’s blood alcohol content was 416 mg per 100 ml – which is 5 times the driving limit. This eventually led to her sudden death at age 27.
Alcohol Poisoning Amy’s Death Sentence
Alcohol poisoning is a serious condition that results from the consumption of excessive amounts of alcohol in a short period.
Even if the individual has stopped drinking alcohol before he/she passes out, the stomach and intestines continue to release alcohol to the circulation. As a result, alcohol levels in the body continue to steadily rise.
The crippling and often fatal effects stem from alcohol’s adverse effects on the person’s breathing, gag reflex, heart rate, and body temperature.
Amy A Case of Substance Use Disorder
Amy was a clear example of a person suffering from alcohol and substance use disorder. She continued to drink even if it led to several performance problems. She is often the picture of alcohol intoxication. This was obvious in her slurred speech, mood swings, impaired attention/memory, poor coordination, and other behavioral issues.
Amy was also suffering from a bad case of addiction with a variety of drugs. She suffered from an even worse case of withdrawal when she decided to stop using. It was too much for her as she cut herself just to power through.
Amy’s descent to alcohol and substance abuse was apparent in her risk factors. Apart from drinking steadily, she had a history of depression and other mental health conditions. She also had a partner who abused drugs with her. It is said that it was her ex-husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, who introduced the singer to heroin and crack cocaine.
Unfortunately, the repeated interventions were not enough to lead Amy away from her eventual demise. Even with Librium being effective, it cannot work alone. Sadly, she refused the cornerstone of alcoholism treatment: psychotherapy.
Despite this poor turn of events, her supporters are eager to use her likeness to promote something good. In 2011, the Amy Winehouse Foundation was created. From then until now, it continues to educate and support the people who are just like Amy – individuals vulnerable to alcohol and drug misuse.
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