HollywoodLife.com spoke with experts who back up members of the Winehouse family who believe that Amy’s sudden withdrawal from alcohol could have killed her.
Amy Winehouse was a heavy alcohol drinker (partial to vodka) and the 4’11 chanteuse may have decided to stop drinking three weeks before her death, reports The Sun newspaper in Great Britain. Family sources told the newspaper that they believe Amy died after a lethal seizure because she physically “could not cope with such a dramatic withdrawal.” They also revealed that Amy ignored her doctor’s advice to cut down on drinking gradually. So could alcohol withdrawal really have triggered a fatal seizure in Winehouse?
Shockingly, the answer is yes, according to a physician and two addiction experts interviewed by HollywoodLife.com.
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.
“You can die from alcohol withdrawal. It is possible to have a seizure as part of withdrawal and to die from the person’s airway being blocked,” explains NYC internist Ronald Mintoli. Alcohol withdrawal can be very serious and should be done in the hospital. What can happen during withdrawal can be unpredictable.”
Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal that addicts like Amy experience include an elevated heart rate, elevated blood pressure, rapid breathing, and mental status changes,” explains Dr. Mimtoli.
And the longer a person has been drinking on a consistent basis, the more likely that they are to have a severe withdrawal. Amy certainly had been drinking heavily since getting involved with her ex-husband Blake Fielder-Civil , who was also an addict, in 2005. There were reports that she could drink two bottles of vodka at a time.
“Alcohol is THE toughest drug to get off of. Tougher than crack and prescription drugs,” says Marty Brenner of MartyBrenner.com, a Beverly Hills addicton recovery specialist.
It takes longer than five or six weeks to withdraw from alcohol. “You want to do it as slowly as possible because alcohol affects your body in such a major way,” explains Brenner.
Alcohol withdrawal can definitely cause seizures, confirms Brenner. “And the fact that she was so tiny means she’d have an even bigger reaction,” he adds.
“A heavy constant drinker who suddenly stops consuming alcohol could experience alcohol withdrawal. In some instances alcohol withdrawal can be very severe and in rare instances death can occur, ” says NYC addiction specialist, Dr. Andrew Rosenblum. This is very dangerous. If I was her doctor I would have advised her to go into an in-patient detox where she would have been given medication to help with the severe withdrawal symptoms and where she would also have been monitored by a physician.”
If Amy’s family was correct that she had stopped drinking three weeks before her death, could she STILL have had a seizure after that amount of time?
Yes, according to Brenner and Medline plus, an information service of the National Institutes of Health, which states that alcohol withdrawal symptoms “may persist for week.” Medlin plus states that a “severe form of alcohol withdrawal called delirium tremems can cause hallucinations and seizures.
As well, symptoms of withdrawal like rapid changes in mood, sleep changes and fatigue, could have lasted for months for Amy. So her withdrawal, just from the physical affects of alcohol alone, aside from the other drugs she had been taking, would have been very, very tough.
Poor Amy! How sad that her impatience with getting clean could possibly have killed her.
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