Amateur Interventionists

I have been reading the accounts of Amy Winehouse’s death in the news not only with sadness and sympathy for her friends and family, but also with frustration. There have been so many quotes of, “I wish someone could have helped her.” Just who was that “someone” supposed to be? It is a travesty that she died at all, much less at only  27.

When I moved to LA, I knew the score on musicians and addiction. I did over 900 hours of career counseling for an internship at a college with a prominent music school. I definitely ran into musicians who were addicted and refused treatment. I still do here in LA. The thing is that addiction is a physical disease with genetic and biochemical components. You cannot just “intervention” it away, and few addicts can actually “stop any time they want.” It just isn’t that simple.

I wish there was an easy treatment for addiction, but there isn’t. Even addiction counselors will tell you that the rate of recidivism is very high and that they find themselves treading over the same old ground with the same addicts repeatedly. Even when addicts want help, it is still a long and difficult road. I have watched friends and family go through this, and you cannot force someone to enter treatment. It just does not work. Former addicts cite the fact that true reality really sucks in comparison with getting high or staying intoxicated. Yes, and we all know that true reality sometimes just plain sucks. Period.

Yes, it really does. It is a shame Amy is gone. Maybe she never would have agreed to treatment. Who knows? Maybe she would have. But it was not up to someone else to “save her.” Family and friends need to understand this: amateur interventions or any interventions won’t work until the addict is ready for help. Yup, really frustrating, I know… RIP, Amy.

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