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#ThrowbackThursday: “Rehab” by Amy Winehouse

“Rehab” was the lead single from the 2006 Amy Winehouse album Back to Black.

by Sean Smith

On October 27, 2006, nine years ago this past Tuesday, Amy Winehouse released her second and final album Back to Black. The British-born singer’s life would be tragically cut short before she could ever release another album. She died of alcohol poisoning on July 23, 2011. She was 27 years young.

It was no secret that Amy Winehouse had battled with substance abuse during her lifetime, but she was far from being alone in that regard. Substance abuse is a real problem not only in Amy’s native Britain, but also right here in America. According to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, over 24 million Americans had admitted to using illicit drugs in the past month. That was nearly 10% of the entire U.S. population. According to that same 2013 survey, nearly one out of every four Americans, 22.9% of the country,  admitted to being binge drinkers. That’s roughly 60 million people. In addition, 16.5 million people, or 6.3% of the U.S. population, had admitted to being heavy drinkers, people who admitted to binge drinking at least five times over the course of a month. These sobering numbers illustrate just how many of our fellow human beings are struggling with the disease of substance abuse, be it with illicit drugs or alcohol. And too few of those who need it actually get the help that they need to treat their disease.

Taking a look back at that 2013 NSDUH survey, an estimated 22.7 million Americans were categorized as needing treatment for their substance abuse and dependence on either illicit drugs or alcohol. Of that group of people, only 2.5 million people actually received treatment in a facility for their disease. A terribly low percentage, and there are three main reasons for it.

The first is cost. Seeking professional treatment at a rehabilitation center can be quite costly. The average cost for an outpatient treatment program is around $10,000, while a more intense in-patient program can cost around $20,000 to $32,000. Not exactly a sum of money most people have sitting around. Sure, insurance companies can help pick up some of that expense as it is a medical cost, but there are many horror stories about how hard it is to actually get insurance companies to cover such a large but desperately needed expense.

A second major reason why many who suffer from substance abuse may not get the treatment they need is because of the stigma we have attached to substance abusers in our society. They are often looked down upon as people who have no will power. People who willfully choose substance abuse over living a normal life. Ignoring the fact that substance abuse is a disease, as the use of these substances changes the very structure and function of the user’s brain. Not to mention the genetic factors associated with addiction. Studies show that 50 percent of your risk for becoming a substance abuser comes from your genes. Meaning some people are much more highly predisposed to fall victim to the disease than others.

Thirdly, and perhaps the most common, is the refusal for the substance abuser to recognize how serious their disease is or to come to grips with the fact that they need to seek professional help. After all, there is a reason why recognizing you have a problem is the first step in the 12 step Alcoholic’s Anonymous program. And it is not an easy step to take by any means. Perhaps this refusal to recognize and address the serious issue of dependence is sadly best summed up by the subject of this week’s edition of #tbt, “Rehab” by Amy Winehouse.

Amy Winehouse released her second and final album Back to Black on October 27, 2006. The lead single for the record “Rehab” was released just a few days prior to the album on October 23. The song was written by Amy Winehouse and is autobiographical in nature. Mark Ronson, who produced the track for Winehouse, said that the song came about one day when the two of them were walking in New York City. As he tells it, Amy was relaying to him a story about how at one point in the past she was drinking heavily following a rough break up, which caused her friends and family to urge her to seek help. It was at that point she uttered what would become the eventual chorus for the song, “They tried to make me go to rehab, and I said ‘no, no no.'” Upon hearing these words, Ronson told Amy that the phrase would make for the basis of a great song. “Rehab” would be recorded just a few days later.

The song quickly became her breakthrough song and reached as high as #7 on the charts in the UK and #9 on the U.S. based Billboard Hot 100. It also won Winehouse three Grammy Awards in 2008 for the categories of Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

So with Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black being released nine years ago this week, today we remember her 2006 single “Rehab.” And most importantly, if you or someone you know is battling substance abuse, PLEASE reach out and get the help and support you or your loved one deserves. You can find a bunch of helpful links here and here.


Amy Winehouse


From: Back To Black

Island Records