I wasn't particularly surprised to learn that the results of a second inquest into the tragic death of Amy Winehouse merely confirmed the original coroner's report: The 27-year-old singer died of alcohol poisoning. I was however, saddened. Again. Because Winehouse was young and talented and it's absolutely tragic that her life was cut short. But also because I can't help but feel that a common misconception contributed to her demise: That alcohol is somehow less dangerous than the other (illegal) substances Winehouse worked so hard to give up: Heroin. Crack cocaine. Marijuana. Yes, these drugs are illegal. Yes, alcohol is perfectly legal. But numbers don't lie: According to the statistics, alcohol is the deadliest substance of all.
A study which evaluated substances including alcohol, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, methamphetamines and marijuana and ranked them based on how destructive they are both to individual users and society as a whole found alcohol to "outrank all other substances." Said one of the researchers, Dr. James Golden:
“A person abusing alcohol can do damage to almost every organ system of their body over time. This is not true of most other substances of abuse. The serious medical consequences of most patients admitted for chemical dependence treatment usually involve those with alcohol dependence. Medical students are just now receiving better education regarding these issues and the treatment of addiction. Hopefully, their patients will have a better understanding of this serious problem through physician-to-patient education and increased awareness as time goes on. This will take time, however.”
To me, the saddest detail revealed by this second inquest was this quote from Winehouse's doctor, who saw her the night before she passed away: "She specifically said she did not want to die."
Heartbreaking. When will we ever learn?
Do you think people will ever realize alcohol is such an incredibly deadly substance?
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