February 13, 2008 / 1:06 AM / 10 years ago

Amy Winehouse puts rehab in spotlight

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Rehab has never been hotter in Hollywood, and nowhere was that more apparent than on Sunday at the Grammy awards with British singer Amy Winehouse’s five big wins, more than any other artist.

Amy Winehouse performs via satellite from London at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards held in Los Angeles, California February 10, 2008. REUTERS/Mike Blake

After months of headlines about drug and alcohol treatment for troubled Hollywood stars like Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan, soul singer Winehouse became the latest celebrity to shake-off the stigma of rehab and look like a winner.

Yet, while some Grammy attendees said Winehouse would have been well looked after by handlers had she attended the U.S. music industry’s top awards, mental health professionals said the stress of performing coupled with Hollywood glamour could have derailed the singer’s recovery.

Why wasn’t the beehive-coiffed and tattooed Winehouse not in Los Angeles to accept her five Grammys? She was in rehab.

Winehouse scored a key victory for best song with hit single “Rehab,” in which she recounts her reluctance to seek help for excessive drinking.

The singer won best new artist, record of the year and best female pop vocal solo performance for “Rehab,” as well as best pop vocal album for he breakthrough release, “Back to Black.”

She accepted her Grammys and performed “Rehab” and another tune, “You Know I’m No Good,” from a studio in England via satellite during the awards’ telecast.

“Thanks very much. It’s an honor to be here,” said a visibly moved Winehouse via satellite, appearing healthier than she did a few weeks ago when she was admitted.

Her involvement in the Grammys had been in doubt due to her arrest for possession of marijuana in Norway, and she had been in rehab at least twice in 2007, according to British media.


“Had she come to the Grammys, it would have been a wonderful experience for her and for everyone,” said Mike Melvoin, a past president of the Recording Academy that hosts the Grammys and a key backer of Grammy-endorsed program, MusiCares, which supports musicians in need.

But if Winehouse stumbled, as did pop princess Britney Spears in her much-maligned appearance at September’s MTV Video Music Awards, Winehouse’s recovery could have reversed course.

“To expect people to come back to perform after a few weeks in rehabilitation is not even physiologically possible,” said Susan Blank, director of psychiatric and psychological services at the non-profit Caron group, which runs rehab programs.

Blank noted it takes weeks for the brain to heal from substance abuse, and interrupting that process can increase the chances of a relapse.

Industry experts and mental health professionals debate about whether heavy media-coverage of high-profile stars leads to drug abuse and self-destructive behavior.

Last month, young actors Brad Renfro and Heath Ledger both died drug-related deaths, joining a long list of talented young casualties from Janis Joplin to Kurt Cobain, to name a few.

“(It) is more related to the personality and biological makeup of a performer and less to stress and pressure on them to perform,” said Stan Greenwald, director of the Center for Stress Reduction in Goshen, New York.

Blank said that drug and alcohol abuse can differ from substance addiction, which is genetically inherited and runs in 10 percent to 16 percent of the entire population.

But she added that celebrities generally have people around them supporting their habit, and the longer stars deny their problems, the longer it takes for them to recover.

Amy Winehouse performs during the 2007 Mercury Music Awards at the Grosvenor House hotel in London, Sepember 4, 2007. Rehab has never been hotter in Hollywood, and nowhere was that more apparent than on Sunday at the Grammy awards with Winehouse's five big wins, more than any other artist. REUTERS/Kieran Doherty

Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and xxx

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