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Winehouse Addiction Story Suggests Peer Group Connections to Drug Abuse

Posted on October 13, 2010 in Research & News

In yet another story of celebrity rehab, singer Amy Winehouse’s drug and alcohol addictions have taken a center stage spot on media outlets. Beyond the stardom, however, Winehouse’s story – like many others – reveals emotional problems and cycles of behavior that can be identified in many people who also suffer from drug addictions.

Family struggles, health problems and a drug-using peer group are said to be possible factors in Winehouse’s addiction story. In 2009, reports of her almost complete recovery circulated, and interviews with the celebrity’s father, Mitch Winehouse, encouraged the media to focus on her success and apparent new start.

While Winehouse made an open vow in 2009 to end her drug addiction, she was reported to continue abusing alcohol while living in St. Lucia. She began living on the Caribbean island following a hospitalization for what was called a medical reaction. The star is also reported to have a fluctuating cycle with rehab centers.

Her vow to stop abusing drugs came after what Winehouse described as hitting an all-time low, which she referred to as “hell.” Marital problems have also been cited by Winehouse, who said her marriage to Blake Fielder-Civil was heavy with drug use – in comparison with her time in St. Lucia, which she openly described as peaceful and removed from her previous drug-filled environment.

It is Winehouse’s openness about her problems with drugs and alcohol, and those of her intimate relationships that may be part of the London singer’s success. Her first album, titled “Frank,” describes bluntly her relationship break-up; a 2007 song titled “Rehab” expressed her straightforward opinion about the therapy, with lyrics including “no, no, no.”
Recently, the star declared herself as having been drug free for three years – but friends commented that she has taken a drug that is known to create an extremely skewed sense of time for users. London government officials say the drug – made partly with chemicals from toilet cleaner – is becoming a rampant problem among young people in Britain.
Winehouse’s father said his daughter’s poor choices in relationships have contributed to her problems, and he hopes she will make different choices that may keep her from returning to old addictions.

A 2003 article published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence seems to reinforce Winehouse’s pattern of behavior. Study authors Kara Riehman, Marin Iguchi, Michelle Zeller and Andrew Morral studied how relationship power influenced a partner’s use of drugs, using interviews from people undergoing drug detoxification at a California facility.

Results indicate that females had a higher likelihood than men of choosing partners who abuse substances, and that people whose intimate partner showed greater levels of power in the relationship also had shorter time spans of drug abstinence. Other studies have also shown that if a person’s partner makes a transition from one drug to another, the person may also be more likely to experiment with the drug.

Celebrity status or not, stories like Amy Winehouse’s battle with drug and alcohol addiction can serve as a reminder that emotional problems and peer influence can be serious factors in a person’s recovery success.
 

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