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Amy Winehouse and the need for a 'Higher Power' in addiction recovery

Published: Tuesday, July 26 2011 1:11 p.m. MDT

Friends, family and fans mourned the death of British pop singer Amy Winehouse today. Winehouse, a 27-year-old who regularly battled drug and alcohol addictions, was found dead Saturday in her London home. A Jewish service was held at the Edgwarebury Cemetery in north London where her father, Mitch Winehouse, gave a eulogy, which ended with a rendition of Carole King's "So Far Away," one of her favorite songs, according to the Miami Herald.

"Goodnight, my angel, sleep tight. Mummy and Daddy love you ever so much," Mitch Winehouse said at the end of his eulogy.

As loved ones mourn, others are left wondering what went wrong.

Rabbi Shais Taub wrote about his shock after receiving the news of Winehouse's death in a piece on The Huffington Post. After he heard the news, he immediately said a prayer but later felt angry and sick. His work with addicts has led him to one cold piece of reality: Addicts die. However, he has seen addicts, like Winehouse, come back from "death's door," but only by "an act of God."

"One of the axioms of recovery is that the addict is beyond human aid and that's why addicts need a 'Higher Power' to live," Rabbi Taub said. "You can call that hocus-pocus. I call it an everyday reality."

The rabbi urged readers to "let Amy's example not be in vain."

"There is a Power greater than all of us," Rabbi Taub said. "May all those who seek in truth find that Power now."

"Higher Power" is often an element in recovery programs.

The second step in the LDS 12-step recovery program states addicts should come to a belief that "a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity." The steps are an adaption of the Alcoholics Anonymous program.

Mark Glade, group manager at LDS Family Services, has worked in recovery programs and agrees with Rabbi Taub.

"Addictions change the way the brain functions," Glade said. "To reprogram the brain takes a lot of effort. That's why it's so important to have additional support."

He said divine assistance along with family and group support is necessary for a recovering addict; otherwise, old habits could be revisited.

Winehouse had recurring battles with addiction. Over the past four years she checked into rehab on four occasions, including a recent visit in May to the Priory Clinic in London, according to the BBC.

EMAIL: jferguson@desnews.com TWITTER: @joeyferguson

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