Russell Brand on Tragic Death of Grammy Winner and R&B Powerhouse Amy Winehouse: ‘We need to review the way society treats addicts, not as criminals but as sick people in need of care.’

Jul 25, 2011  •  Post A Comment

Russell Brand has written a moving remembrance of his friend Amy Winehouse forcusing on her addiction.

Winehouse, 27, the amazing R&B and jazz-oriented Grammy award-winning singer, was found dead in her London apartment on Saturday, July 23, 2011.

On his website, in a piece he calls simply "For Amy," Brand writes, "When you love someone who suffers from the disease of addiction you await the phone call. There will be a phone call. The sincere hope is that the call will be from the addict themselves, telling you they’ve had enough, that they’re ready to stop, ready to try something new. Of course though, you fear the other call, the sad nocturnal chime from a friend or relative telling you it’s too late, she’s gone."

Brand, a recovering addict himself who is married to pop phenom Katy Perry. We first read about his essay at Deadline.com. In her comments about Brand’s essay, Nikki Finke writes:

"The film and TV business has never taken a leadership role on this issue. No mogul has ever proclaimed that showbiz, like sports, should adopt a unified tough love policy and refuse to work with addicted artists unless they got help. But that would involve pulling the plug on recording projects or concert tours or movie productions or TV shows — no matter the expense. And ultimately Big Media must agree to drop addicted artists who refuse treatment. It’s telling that Amy Winehouse not only made millions with the song whose lyrics include "They tried to make me go to rehab but I said ‘no, no, no’ but also that she was found dead a month after a big concert tour where in Belgrade she’d stumbled around the stage. Or that Charlie Sheen has boasted about his rampant drug use and yet Hollywood just made a high-profile deal for a new sitcom starring him. It’s shameful greed."

Brand ends his essay with these words:

"Now Amy Winehouse is dead, like many others whose unnecessary deaths have been retrospectively romanticised, at 27 years old. Whether this tragedy was preventable or not is now irrelevant. It is not preventable today. We have lost a beautiful and talented woman to this disease. Not all addicts have Amy’s incredible talent. Or Kurt’s or Jimi’s or Janis’s, some people just get the affliction. All we can do is adapt the way we view this condition, not as a crime or a romantic affectation but as a disease that will kill. We need to review the way society treats addicts, not as criminals but as sick people in need of care. We need to look at the way our government funds rehabilitation. It is cheaper to rehabilitate an addict than to send them to prison, so criminalisation doesn’t even make economic sense. Not all of us know someone with the incredible talent that Amy had but we all know drunks and junkies and they all need help and the help is out there. All they have to do is pick up the phone and make the call. Or not. Either way, there will be a phone call."

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