Amy Winehouse and the Pain of Addiction
By Maia Szalavitz
Another addiction death comes at age 27, with Amy Winehouse joining Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain and most aptly, Janis Joplin among the rock icons who died from their disorder at the same point in their young lives. And sadly, her passing also presents another occasion for well-intentioned people who misunderstand addiction to push counterproductive solutions.
Janis Joplin once said that she made love to 25,000 people at her concerts, but went home alone. It’s that yearning for love and acceptance, that aching but unanswered need for connection that underlies both the drive for fame and the pain of addiction, which may be why the two are so often found together.
The pain that infused Winehouse’s voice seemed inextricable from her talent and was one thing that allowed her to move so many so profoundly. In counterpoint, her joyous sounds seemed that much more uplifting. It’s that deep and complex mix of feelings that helped her fans connect to her even as she herself never benefited from that connection. That paradox is at the heart of the addiction.