After several weeks of waiting, the toxicology reports from singer Amy Winehouse’s autopsy became available, and had some surprises for those following the story. Associated Press reported that no illegal drugs were found in the pop star’s body at the time of death. On the other hand, alcohol was found, but it is unclear how much was present in her system and whether it played a role in her death.
Though she was notorious for her hard partying lifestyle and her famous refusal to go to rehab, her death nonetheless shocked friends and family. Almost immediately, stories surfaced that Winehouse, who had been struggling with abstaining from illegal drugs for three years, had gone on one final binge (yet another example of the British tabloids’ incompetence). Her family, on the other hand, maintained that she had died from alcohol withdrawal and had not taken any illegal drugs at the time of her death. This toxicology report therefore seems to bolster her family’s story… and should give pause to anyone who supports current worldwide drug control regimes.
Winehouse’s tragic passing has become symbolic of a failed drug policy. Though her notorious alcohol use may or may not have led to her death, her passing immediately raised awareness about the dangers of alcohol. In the wake of her passing, ABC News explained that alcohol addicts can die not only from alcohol poisoning or other complications from ingesting too much alcohol, but also from trying to quit. According to the report, “The most severe form of alcohol withdrawl is called delirium tremens, and it usually manifests after three to five days without alcohol… it can be life threatening and requires immediate medical attention.”
Shockingly, though, alcohol use is incentivized by American and international drug policies, particularly over a drug like marijuana, which has significantly safer both in terms of its health and social consequences. Hopefully, the continued investigation into Winehouse’s death will remind both citizens and policy makers that (legal) alcohol is a dangerous psychoactive drug whose abuse should be more strongly monitored and disincentivized.
Photo from fyunkie via flickr.
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