A predominant bete noire for those who toil in the field of addictions therapy is the obvious contradiction between omnipotence and impotence.
The counselor may believe, due to the behaviors of a client, that he/she is at the top of their game and is making headway and is, goddamnit, saving a poor soul that was well on the way to the ghastliest perdition or death. And then the client goes and fucks it up and it’s back to square one – if indeed the client is still around.
Amy Winehouse isn’t any longer. I don’t know why. Nor, I suspect did she know why in the last few hours before she quit the planet in a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy that she would soon be going “the way of Janis/Jim/Jimi etc. etc. etc. And in her ongoing personal hell of substance and illness she no longer was left with the option of going the way of Eric Clapton or Keith Richards. All tragic. All predictable.
Something that has always confounded me, as both a counselor, and as a person who (and I am not embarrassed to admit it at all) who struggled with substance abuse himself (in my case alcohol) blessedly many years ago now.
So, I say, with no smugness implied, that I did it. And I have continued to do it on a daily basis for a decade-and-a-half. In other words, I ‘got it’. I got something at least that has kept me on a chosen path after I made what was arguably the most difficult decision in my life. In other words, I chose life. Amy didn’t. I don’t know why not.
Hence the omnipotence. Here you had a magnificent talent (I think she was the best singer of her genre since Etta James (and as a huge Etta fan that is, for me, saying a lot. And James, FYI, is an ex-junkie who kicked most successfully). And she had fame, and she had success and she had those that loved her and cared.
And yet she chose (and I use ‘chose’ advisedly) to continue on the path to self-destruction/martyrdom. I have known others like her, and I have seen a few buried over the years. A few that could not or would not do what to the non-addicted should be obvious.
Despite the fact that I worked as a counselor for a number of years, ran a rehab, and dealt with innumerable clients addicted to many substances. Some have made it into a blessed clean-living sobriety; some continue to go back on a perilous (and potentially lethal) path of recovery/abuse. Some of them may make it eventually. Where there is life, to lapse into cliché, there is hope. But, with Amy, and others like her, there is no life and no hope. Could she not do it? I cannot say. Would she not do it? That is, to me, more likely. Why would she not do it? I have no answer and I suspect nobody else has one either.
Just a sad loss that could have turned out differently.