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Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

Amy Winehouse, Russel Brand and Addiction

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: Jul 25th 2011

addictionYou may have heard, singer Amy Winehouse was found dead in her apartment, July 23rd, 2011, died allegedly as a result of a drug overdose. When celebrities die or are in the news in connection to the harmful effects of drugs it raises awareness for a short time, but addiction is pervasive running across cultures, socioeconomics, gender, and religion. Some might argue that when people are in the midst of their addictive cycles they are like the walking dead, hardly ever able to be present to this life as it is.


Rising film star Russel Brand has been sober since 2002 and was friends with Winehouse. In a blog post he said it almost perfectly:

 “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. 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."

It’s almost impossible to be here for this life when a good portion of your mind is looking off into the distance to be somewhere else.

The danger of addiction isn’t just the deaths we hear about, as tragic as they are, it’s about the living dead.

Although it’s extremely hard to “wake up” when your brain is focused on the next fix, there are ways to begin connecting back to life. The first may be actually learning how to “be with” the feelings of urges and impulses that are so automatically avoided. See “urge surfing.”

The second may be looking around and seeing who you’re surrounding yourself with. Probably the #1 way to break free from old habitual patterns that are unhealthy is to stop surrounding yourself with people who reinforce or trigger for that habit. Find new groups of people that can be supports for a healthier community and a healthier life.  

This life is too short to live on auto-pilot.

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.


Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

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