I cannot stop thinking about the tragic and untimely death of Amy Winehouse. Here was a young, beautiful, immensely talented woman, haunted by the demon of addiction. This demon does not come from the outside; it is not sent to you by the evil in the world. It comes from within. I am not saying that drugs were not brought to Amy by ‘friends’ or dealers. We have to invite that demon of addiction in; we have to open ourselves to it; invite it as a welcomed guest and allow it to stay. That is something we do ourselves. Something in us: be it anxiety, depression, loneliness, yearning for the unattainable something, or lack of meaning in our lives, creates some void in us that the drugs fill and we let them.
Amy seemingly had everything: loving parents, talent, money, and wonderful music she wrote herself. Yet she felt a need to fill a void in herself with booze and drugs. Everyone could see it, and everyone did see it. Everyone tried to help, her parents were desperate, and she was desperate. However, they were most likely desperate for different things.
As a parent I know what her parents were desperate for, what all parents are always desperate for: their child’s happiness. Not happiness derived from drugs or alcohol, or popular adulation, but the happiness that comes from inside, from the child’s personal completeness, achievement, fulfillment and accomplishments.
As a woman, I can only read and imagine what Amy wanted, but she often talked about having a child. I can bet no matter what she showed the world, she craved a family of her own, a healthy child to call her “mama” and love her unconditionally, to nurture that child through a meaningful and wonderful life. It may sound tacky in this brave new world, but that is what we all want.
Dying at 27 because we have abused our bodies with cigarettes, alcohol and drugs is not what our parents dream for us as they swing us in the bassinette as mere babes. No one says: “I want to grow up and become a big star and then smoke, drink and use heroin and cocaine until I die at 27.” Yet they do just that. Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, and now Amy Winehouse, were all dead at 27, among others, not members of “the 27 club”. How many more will die?
Young people die of overdose every day. We just don’t hear about it. Not everyone is famous. Most just get mourned and cried over by their families, if they are lucky. Some don’t even get that. They have spent all their good will and all their love away on other important things in their lives. The drugs became their mother and their father, the cigs became their sibs, and the bottle became their lover. And then, there is no one to bury them, because that which they have loved and cherished most has been the instrument of their demise.
Giving and Taking
Life is not given to us in order to sink ourselves into the quagmire of fog of drugs and alcohol and smoke of nicotine and hashish. We are not here to numb ourselves into oblivion. We are here to live, to experience life to the fullest, to love and to give, to teach and to learn. We feel most fulfilled when we are giving, not taking and when what we give is appreciated and needed. Think of a mother nursing a baby, a professor lecturing a class, a singer performing to an audience, a physician treating a patient.
When we are children we are used to taking, not giving. Part of maturation into adulthood is acquiring the ability and the skills making you capable to give to others. That giving can consist of the combination of physical, monetary, emotional, intellectual, or spiritual, depending on the relationship between the giver and the recipient.
Amy Winehouse was known to be a very giving person. She once gave $6,000 for a relative stranger to have a necessary surgery. She wanted to give; it gave her pleasure and fulfillment. But monetary giving is only partially satisfactory. We all know people that seem to have everything, and yet are not ever satisfied. The proverbs say that “rich is that person who is happy with his lot”. How many of us are? We have to be fulfilled not only financially, because we all know that money cannot buy happiness, but emotionally, physically and spiritually as well.
If all of these are not satisfied, we are not complete and we turn to something on the outside to satisfy “the itch”. It may be the $100,000 car when we turn 50 and bold. It may be plastic surgery or expensive jewelry. It may be meaningless sports that keep us preoccupied while we may let our marriages disintegrate and our children slip away. It may be complete dedication to work at the expense of the family. Or to some, it can be alcohol and drugs, which will rob us of our freedom of choice and ability to see good from evil.
Good and Evil
Everything around us can be used for good or for evil. The kitchen knife you just used to cut up a cucumber can be used to kill a man. Internet can be used for good, just like it can be used for insidious things. Sex can be beautiful and meaningful way to share emotions with a person you love, or it can be used to cause brutal violence. Food can be used for nourishment and sustenance, or lead to gluttony, obesity and disease.
Drugs should be used to cure disease or alleviate pain and suffering. That is their intended purpose and when used in such a manner, drugs are good. Each of us will have to decide for ourselves whether we are doing good or evil. Most of us know. We are just not ready to look in the mirror and admit it. But before we give up our habits, be it drugs, cigarettes, booze, gambling, etc. we need to know what we are going to fill the void with.
You need to fill that void with purposeful giving. Giving that consists of the combination of emotional, physical and spiritual. Find a group where you can be helpful: feed the elderly, help the homeless; join a church, a synagogue, and religious group. Volunteer your time at a children’s hospital, fire department, or library. Read to the blind, visit the home-bound. There are always people who are worse off than you are.
Start taking college courses that you never thought were interesting before. You might meet new people who are not into drugs or whatever habit you are trying to shake. Start giving more and taking less and you may just find yourself happier and healthier for it.
Making a Difference
Do I think we could have made a difference in Amy Winehouse’s life or in the life of any other drug addict? Yes, I know that we can, but only if they do their part. It must be a concerted effort, a complete commitment on the person’s part which we will nourish and support, but we cannot make or keep that commitment for them. We can get them clean with our process of rapid detox under anesthesia and we can help them stay clean with the help of naltrexone implant, but recovery is a process that consists of those parts discussed above: physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual. All have to be tended to, all have to be addressed. Please let us know if we can help, call us, write to us, we are here to help. Don’t let your life fade ”back to black”….