Magazine article The Spectator

Amy Was Right

Magazine article The Spectator

Amy Was Right

Article excerpt

Just say no, no, no to rehab culture

Something queer has happened to Amy Winehouse in the six weeks since her death: she has been turned from an anti-rehab rebel into the poster girl for rehab. The tragic Camden songstress was famous for singing 'They tried to make me go to rehab, but I said no, no, no'. Yet now her demise is being held up as a sign that all troubled folk should seek expert rehabilitation as soon as they can.

Her deeply distraught father, Mitch, is having meetings with Home Office ministers to discuss setting up more rehab centres. There's even talk of opening something called the Amy Winehouse Rehabilitation Centre. It's a bit like making Princess Di the patron saint of landmines.

The central tenet of the newspaper commentary on Winehouse's death is that she should have said 'yes, yes, yes' to rehab - and so should the rest of us, apparently.

Although no traces of illegal substances were found in her body, it is widely assumed that Winehouse's reckless lifestyle - which involved dalliances with heroin and downing copious amounts of vodka - contributed to her death at just 27. So now, in the name of Amy, Britain must get serious about rolling out rehab services.

Last week the tabloids delighted in telling us that 'soaring numbers' of people have been rushing to rehab since Winehouse died. Apparently, hundreds more have been checking into the Priory chain of clinics, which help to tackle all kinds of addictions and emotional problems. Meanwhile, drug experts have informed us that Winehouse's death shows the dangers of going 'cold turkey', of trying to get clean all on your lonesome. It seems you can only successfully ditch drugs and heal yourself with the guiding hand of someone with a PhD.

This remaking of Amy Winehouse as a sad advert for rehab is not on. In fact, it's outrageous. Of course it is true that the singer had numerous problems brough t on by a lifestyle that would have made Sid Vicious balk. And perhaps a little discreet health advice could have helped her. Yet, as she pointed out, in order for external assistance to work, the screwed-up person has to be ready to receive it. 'I don't need help, because if I can't help myself then I can't be helped, ' she wisely said.

Yet we shouldn't let Amy's demise detract from the fact that her stance on rehab, her sullen yet uplifting song about why she wouldn't go, remains an inspiring act of defiance. …

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