Russell Brand Inspires with “For Amy” — His Post about Amy Winehouse and Addiction

by Janice


”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.” – Russell Brand

I logged onto Twitter a few hours late that morning, and by the time I did, streams were full of the news of Amy Winehouse’s fatal overdose.

Like everyone else, I wasn’t exactly shocked — she was an addict and that is a lethal situation. As Russell brand describes in his post, “For Amy,” “Addiction is a serious disease; it will end with jail, mental institutions or death.”

So while I wasn’t surprised, I was profoundly sad — for Amy and for all addicts and their family and friends.

I read tweets that were bitter that she was receiving attention while others died in obscurity, and tweets that were cold and accusing, blaming her for her fate.

While both facts are true – so many incredible people die without the world mourning the deep loss and Amy was the only one who could have saved herself from ending up dead at 27 my sadness pooled up inside of me as I remembered the addicts and alcoholics I have loved in my own life.

As a youth worker, I worked for six years with at risk youth. I have seen addiction rip apart young lives, while I scrambled, desperately trying to do some damage control and maybe help to pull a few to safety.

And, like so many of us I am sure, my own extended family and friends have endured the destruction and loss of alcoholism.

Addiction and alcoholism are not the diseases of celebrity. In fact, like Amy Winehouse and probably most celebrities who are afflicted, the disease was raging long before celebrity began to feed it.

It is infuriating to watch someone die unnecessarily.

I have been there, trying to save someone from themselves. I know the frustration, the agony, the futility. I know what it is like to give up.

But I hate to hear the condemnation, the judgement.

We all have crap in our lives. For most of us, our mistakes and shame are hidden and not as deadly as Amy’s.

But it is still there. We are still fundamentally flawed, failing those around us. We all need grace and forgiveness. We all need someone to help save us from ourselves in one way or another.

So, as the news swirls about Amy Winehouse and the other celebrities who couldn’t make it past 27 years old, I hope that instead of throwing judgement we can be grateful that Amy’s tragic death at least shines the spotlight on the disease and seriousness of addiction and alchoholism, that perhaps some battling their own demons will be frightened enough to start saving themselves.

As Russell Brand reminds us:

“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 no. Either way, there will be a phone call.”

The entertainment industry has seen its share of stars who have died drug-related deaths. Had they been entered into drug rehab programs, their lives could have been saved.

Written by Janice, co-founder of the Mom Blog, 5 Minutes for Mom.
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Janice is co-founder of 5 Minutes For Mom. She's been working online since 2003 and is thankful her days are full of social media, writing and photography. You can see more of her photos at

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tarasview July 24, 2011 at 6:02 pm

well said Janice.


2 Janice July 24, 2011 at 6:16 pm

Thanks Tara! You know me – the fastest thing to get me on my soapbox is the judgement of our fellow human beings!


3 Mel July 24, 2011 at 6:57 pm

Wow, his words are so powerful. “either way, there will be a call.” thank you for sharing this.


4 Janice July 24, 2011 at 9:34 pm

Yes – it was such a powerful post! I have so much respect for him after reading that post!


5 RefreshMom July 24, 2011 at 7:08 pm

Prior to hearing the news about Amy, I was remembering how I spent about 3 months last year trying to help a former student of mine keep from continuing down that same path. I’ll spare you the long story, but bad he not gone to rehab and stuck with it, he was headed to jail. The judge gave him an conditional release.

He’s come so far from where he was this time last year. I chatted with him just last week and he’s a few months from completing his rehab with Teen Challenge (which, despite the sound of the name, is not a youth rehab).

It’s not easy for an addict to get to the point where they’re ready for help. And when they are ready, often the first obstacle that comes up–cost, distance, hoops to jump through–can make them give up. That’s when they need someone to come alongside and encourage them to keep going, offering another perspective that can help them find solutions where they only see problems.

I’ve mostly kept this whole thing to myself for the past year because it’s so deeply personal. But if nothing else, I want to make people aware that Teen Challenge is a no-cost rehab program with locations all over North America and a better than average long-term success rate. Most of us who have never been close to someone in these circumstances wouldn’t know where to begin to refer someone for help. Maybe this can be a place to start for someone.



6 Janice July 24, 2011 at 9:35 pm

Thanks so much for sharing about Teen Challenge! Yes – to find a no-cost rehab is incredible!!
So glad that things are improving for your student!!


7 The Gang's Momma July 24, 2011 at 7:52 pm

Well Said! I think many of us forget that these addictions are borne out of tremendous wounding and pain. And that for many of us, it’s LITERALLY “there but for the grace of God go I.” We never really know the depth of someone’s aching heart – no matter how well we think we know them. Far better is to reach out our hands in love, being JESUS to those around us than to throw stones and lay blame or judgement. I’m with you – the bitter and the angry and the condescending sniping serves no one. It only feeds the ugliness of our own sin further.


8 Erica July 24, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Very well said Gang’s Momma!!!


9 Janice July 24, 2011 at 9:35 pm



10 Jen E July 24, 2011 at 8:50 pm

Very well said! And thanks for the quote and links by Russell Brand, as his words were also very well said!


11 Janice July 24, 2011 at 9:36 pm

Thanks! Yes – as a recovering addict himself, he has such a good perspective!


12 gertie July 24, 2011 at 11:45 pm

Addiction is such a terrible thing. It’s hard to walk away, but sometimes it has to be done. I’ve had to learn to walk away from a couple of situations because it was putting my family and relationships in danger. I never walk away from the children. So many children suffer from the addictions of their parents. Three little boys I know suffer with living in a household of an alcoholic. My dear sweet little 8 yo friend is in foster care because her parents are meth addicts. The little ones feel the brunt of it.


13 Megan July 25, 2011 at 9:05 am

Well said, both by you and Russel Brand. I think people who do not have experience with an addict in their lives are so quick to judge and are really unable to fathom the disease of addiction. It’s terribly tragic.


14 Soothe Stress August 10, 2011 at 1:36 am

GEEZ!I wrote a crazy long reply to your post but my internet cut out and I lost it all! Oh well, just wanted to say that it was a great article! Awesome!


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