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Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Parents Miss The Point...

I was listening to the radio last night and I heard Amy Winehouse's dad speaking about wishing to found a charity to make rehab or treatment more accessible to people who do not have the funds for expensive private treatment.

I have no doubt about the honest and sincere motives of Mr Winehouse after losing his daughter to her addictions. But grief can cloud anyone's judgement, and this has been noticable to me in the case of parents who have lost their children to their various addictions...such as those who lost their teenage sons or daughters to a bad ecstasy pill calling for a tightening up of the prohibition laws. Whether it was an allergy or the rubbish those tablets were mixed with was besides the point...the point that they missed was that prohibition makes research into possible side effects, deadly or not, of such drugs harder as it could not be known whether it was a rare allergy to MDMA or the unknown adulterants in the tablets that killed those youths, and as there was no way of knowing what the adulterants were, or at least which ones caused the fatalities it will never be known. Tightening up the drug laws is likely to cause more, not fewer deaths.

But back to the point....I, for one, am one such person who has been what is described as a 'problem user' of one illicit drug or another for a good chunk of my life, and I am no rock star with a lot of money to spend on private treatment, and never have been rich. In fact, I know many other users who are far from being rich who have been in and out of rehab time and time again, and, to use treatment jargon for lack of a better term, 'relapsed'. So it obviously was not a lack of access to treatment itself that was their problem, but was rather the success or rather, the lack of success, of the treatment concerned.

Amy's death was a tragedy, but even if lack of access to treatment was a problem for users with a lack of funds, it was not a problem for her. Access to rehab did not save her.

People become victims of their own addictions not because there is a lack of access to treatment....if anything the deaths of rock stars with money for all the treatment they may want or not want confirms that is not the case. If someone's problem is excess, battling with their own demons etc treatment, as I have pointed out before on this blog, has a lousy success rate. People have to want to help themselves before any 'programme', 'rehab', whatever, will help them, and if they are determined enough then half the battle has been won anyway, people overcome addiction with no treatment just as often as with...which makes it's use value questionable.

The State has either funded, via the NHS, individual patients to attend private clinics or simply sets up their own on the NHS using the same model. I have been offered rehab a few times and, like Amy did, have just said 'No, no, no'. And this has been without any money of either my parents or my own to do so but money the NHS offered to fund. The first time it was for heroin addiction, the second time it was for cocaine and alcohol. A good friend of mine who is homeless has been in a State owned rehab three times battling an addiction to alcohol and has failed each time.

I don't wish to be insensitive to the feelings of Amy's family, but it seems her father is barking up the wrong tree, as there seems to be little denial of rehab for those who want it, in my long experience as a drug user and that of everyone I know. He would maybe be better campaigning and funding a charity which advocates education about responsible drug use.


  1. You're right, it wasn't like Amy didn't have the funds- she could have gone to any rehab center and gotten the best of care. I read an interview with Piers Morgan and I agree with him--- He blamed Amy's death on the entertainment industry. He showed the one video that has gone viral-- the Belgrade, Serbia concert where Winehouse struggled to remember the words to her songs, stumbled around the stage and even tried to get one of her background singers to warble for her. If you look at it you'll notice her band mates are laughing. Seriously, there was nothing funny about it. It was so heartbreaking to watch- why didn't anyone pull her off stage instead of allowing her to be boo'ed off stage?

    Clearly for the music industry it was all about the money and they didn't have her best interest at heart considering she was still being booked for concerts even though she was battling a devastating addiction.

    RE: Tightening up the drug laws is likely to cause more, not fewer deaths.

    I totally agree with you. I think the more education on drug abuse the better.

    P.S. I hope you're feeling and doing better.

  2. Hello lovely!

    You know I saw an job Ad today that reminded me of your post. I can even see you getting involved in some voluntary work with that foundation which was founded after amy's death. I imagine you'd be quite good at it (maybe once you are fully back on track yourself) but you gotta start somewhere.

  3. That's an interesting point you bring up. I've been considering inpatient rehab lately, but wondering if my own determination plus outpatient therapy may be just as effective. I'm far from rich myself and I'd rather not give everything I have away to afford rehab when it's possible to do it on my own.