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Did Amy Winehouse Die from Alcohol Withdrawal?

Amy Winehouse in 2007, by photographer Terry Richardson

Image by Terry Richardson

Amy Winehouse’s family now claims that she died of the “shock” of alcohol withdrawal. Her family maintains she quit drinking “cold turkey” in the month following her humiliating final performance in Belgrade.

Hollywood Life spoke with three experts—Dr. Ronald Minutoli and Dr. Andrew Rosenbaum of New York, along with addiction specialist Marty Brenner of California—to glean a better understanding of the detox process:

In the U.S. 50 to 60 percent of alcoholics will develop significant withdrawal symptoms from alcohol and 5 percent will experience acute symptoms called “delirium tremens”. About 5 – 15 per cent of delirium tremens sufferers will die.

By this logic, as many as 8 in every 1000 alcoholics die of the seizures caused by alcohol withdrawal. (Slate adds that Wernicke’s encephalopathy is a real and grievous risk.)

Experts also recommend that longtime drinkers detox gradually, with a doctor’s help, under constant supervision.

We do know that Winehouse’s body was discovered by a supervisor (well, a “security guard”) in her home, and that the night before her death a doctor had given Winehouse’s health the A-OK. Those details lend credence to the family’s claim that, at the very least, Amy Winehouse was trying to get sober. Did the effects of alcohol withdrawal cause Amy Winehouse’s death?

11 CommentsLeave a comment

  • You need to check your math. Not sure where you come up with 9 out of 100? If 5 percent get delirium tremens and between 5 and 15 percent of those people die, that would be less than 1 in 100. It would be between 1 in 133 and 1 in 400.

  • And here I was thinking Delirium Tremens was just a delicious beer. Who says gossip can’t teach you anything.

  • Remember, that’s only 5% of the 50-60% who experience withdrawal symptoms. So it’s more like 4 or 5 in 1000.

  • I don’t think symptoms would take up to a month (was that how long ago she quit?) to occur. If you detox cold turkey (and my Victorian moralistic rehab made me) the symptoms come on pretty fast… The first 24 hours are the worst and then everything starts to smooth over….

    Doesn’t make sense…

  • And just to be precise: it was alcohol I was detoxing from, and it was possibly the worst experience of my life… and I don’t think anyone who had access to a couple of valiums to take the edge off wouldn’t resort to that. You’d have to be a goddamn masochist not to…

  • I was also commenting to tell the author to check the math. If it is 5% of withdrawing alcoholics that experience delerium tremens, and only 5-15% of those die, that is .25 to .75 person per 100, not 9 in 100. Even less if the 5% refers to a percentage of just those 50-60% that experience significant withdrawal symptoms. From the wording, I could not tell if that was the case. Please change the story to remove the inflammatory number of 9 in 100, as it is very misleading.

  • Have any of you young’uns seen Lady Sings the Blues with Diana Ross because it’s really really really fine…. Diana Ross was nominated for an Oscar…..

    Anyone who loves Amy should see that film…..