Actor and comedian Russell Brand took to his personal blog Sunday to write a letter about his friendship with Amy Winehouse and his own battles with addiction.
Winehouse was found dead at her home Camden Square in northern London at age 27 on Saturday. The cause of the British singer's death is not immediately known.
Brand, a recovering alcoholic and heroin addict, recalled in the post titled "For Amy," the moment he met Winehouse several years ago. "I've known Amy Winehouse for years. When I first met her around Camden she was just some twit in a pink satin jacket shuffling round bars with mutual friends, most of whom were in cool Indie bands or peripheral Camden figures Withnail-ing their way through life on impotent charisma," he wrote.
"I was myself at that time barely out of rehab and was thirstily seeking less complicated women so I barely reflected on the now glaringly obvious fact that Winehouse and I shared an affliction, the disease of addiction. All addicts, regardless of the substance or their social status share a consistent and obvious symptom; they're not quite present when you talk to them. They communicate to you through a barely discernible but un-ignorable veil," Brand added. "Whether a homeless smack head troubling you for 50 pence for a cup of tea or a coked-up, pinstriped exec foaming off about his 'speedboat,' there is a toxic aura that prevents connection. They have about them the air of elsewhere, that they're looking through you to somewhere else they'd rather be. And of course they are. The priority of any addict is to anesthetize the pain of living to ease the passage of the day with some purchased relief."
The comedian also cites the media's role in chronicling Winehouse's troubles. He writes, "Publicly though, Amy increasingly became defined by her addiction. Our media though is more interested in tragedy than talent, so the ink began to defect from praising her gift to chronicling her downfall. The destructive personal relationships, the blood soaked ballet slippers, the aborted shows, that YouTube madness with the baby mice. In the public perception this ephemeral tittle-tattle replaced her timeless talent. This and her manner in our occasional meetings brought home to me the severity of her condition."
"Addiction is a serious disease; it will end with jail, mental institutions or death. I was 27-years-old when through the friendship and help of Chip Somers of the treatment centre, Focus12, I found recovery. Through Focus I was introduced to support fellowships for alcoholics and drug addicts which are very easy to find and open to anybody with a desire to stop drinking and without which I would not be alive," Brand wrote.
"Now Amy Winehouse is dead, like many others whose unnecessary deaths have been retrospectively romanticized at 27-years-old," he added. "Whether this tragedy was preventable or not is now irrelevant. It is not preventable today. We have lost a beautiful and talented woman to this disease."
The comedian became sober in 2003. Brand's entire post about Winehouse can be read here.