(UPDATE: 10/26/2011: Coroner Suzanne Greenaway has ruled Winehouse’s death “accidental alcohol poisoning.” “The unintended consequence of such potentially fatal levels (of alcohol) was her sudden and unexpected death.”)

(UPDATE: 8/9/2011: Memorial Matters now has an Amy Winehouse memorial for fans and loved ones. Also, Amy’s parents, Mitch and Janice Winehouse, are moving forward with the Amy Winehouse Foundation and will receive a bit of financial assistance from the proceeds brought in by Amy’s “Body and Soul” duet with Tony Bennett.

(UPDATE: 7/26/2011: According to ABC News, Amy Winehouse will be cremated later today, following her service this morning. Given the lack of drug paraphernalia in her home, and her clean bill of health 24 hours prior to her death, some doctors have noted other related health conditions that could have contributed to her death, including poor diet, pulmonary disease, respiratory arrest, asthma, and emphysema. Winehouse’s father told reporters she was diagnosed with early-emphysema in 2008. An autopsy can fail to pick up respiratory conditions. Amy Winehouse’s official cause of death will not be released until October 2011.)

(UPDATE: 7/25/2011: Metropolitan Police confirmed with Us Magazine that Winehouse’s autopsy did not provide a conclusive cause of death, and a toxicology report, which can take up to four weeks, will be necessary to determine why the singer died. Winehouse’s representative says Amy will be laid to rest on Tuesday, July 26.)

Amy Winehouse was found dead in her London apartment over the weekend. The award-winning British singer, perhaps best known for her sophomore album, the five-time Grammy-winning Back to Black, was 27 years old and is now said to have joined the 27 Club, a collection of artists including Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, and Janis Joplin, who’ve died at 27.

Scotland Yard confirmed that in addition to an inquest, the Amy Winehouse autopsy will take place today, Monday, July 25, 2011. Until the autopsy results are released and the investigation is complete – and probably until the notoriously slow toxicology reports are in – the official cause of death remains undetermined. (See above update.)

Still, I don’t think it’s a risky leap to assume the “Rehab” crooner’s death is in some way related to drugs. She’s publicly battled substance abuse problems, as well as mental health issues like depression, cutting, and eating disorders, for years. As recent as June, the singer was slurring her performances and canceled her European tour.

So, despite a police source confirming with People that no drugs or paraphernalia were found in her home (and a doctor found no problems just 24 hours before her death), I’m still willing to bet Winehouse died from either a health problem related to heavy alcohol and drug use, or an actual drug overdose.

(If I’m wrong, I’ll apologize.)

See, like the millions of people who’ve shouted from outlets like Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and TV and radio shows, I, too, have paid enough attention to the media over the years to realize it’s feasible to assume Winehouse suffered a drug-related death of some sort. I will not be shocked when (or, if) her cause of death is announced as one related to drug addition.

Even her parents had braced themselves for such a death.

However, unlike some of the same people who’ve shouted from on- and offline media sources, I still find tragedy in Winehouse’s death.

That people can’t seem to separate the often inevitable fatal end of addicts from the tragedy of losing a fellow human being to a treatable and manageable disease confuses and frustrates me.

Beyond her drug addiction and alcohol abuse – beyond the addiction that too often identified her – this was a woman with family members, friends, and other loved ones. She had people in her life who loved her, and who will deeply miss her now that she’s gone.

Aside from that, she’s another victim to the disease of addiction that’s not only killing the out-of-control celebrities we hear about on almost regular bases, but also fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, classmates, and best friends.

Several years ago, a friend of mine lost his father to an assortment of unchecked health problems. The man had diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, depression, and I’m guessing stress and anxiety (based only on my interactions with him). For years, he made no diet changes, didn’t exercise, didn’t take any medication, and only saw a doctor when his health became so bad he had to be taken to the emergency room. Yes, his family realized he would die if he didn’t do better by his health, and so no, they weren’t shocked when he finally succumbed.

His actions (or, inactions) inevitably caused his death, and his family members and friends expected it, but does that make it any less tragic?

No, the death of an addict who publicly displayed self-destructive behavior for years is not shocking. Yes, losing yet another person to the miserable and fatal grip of drug addiction and self-loathing is tragic.

I don’t think those two thoughts, together, are so inconceivable.

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