Comedian and actor Russell Brand, who has battled addiction, reflected on the life and death of fellow North London friend Amy Winehouse, whose life was filled with similar struggles.
Brand posted a note to his blog on Sunday, recalling how he met her at local hangouts and eventually was surprised over time to learn that she had singing talent.
Brand writes about friendships with people who are addicts and how there is a fear that one day a phone call will be made either from the friend or someone else, indicating a significant development has occurred, either positive or negative.
Frustratingly it's not a call you can ever make it must be received. It is impossible to intervene, he writes.
Brand's relationship with the singer, as he recalls, spanned years and began at bars with mutual friends.
In those early years, he described Winehouse as sweet and peculiar but most of all vulnerable.
Brand says Winehouse had gentle quirks.
Yet as her fame grew, Brand was mostly baffled because I'd not experienced her work.
However by chance he attended a concert for another artist, who happened to be performing with Winehouse.
Brand describe Winehouse's vocals as rolling and of wondrous resonance.
A voice that was filled with such power and pain that it was at once entirely human yet laced with the divine, he said.
He said after that a new phase in our friendship began as he had her appear on his television and radio shows.
He remarked that her public perception increasingly became defined by her addiction and that media attention changed from praising her gift to chronicling her downfall.
This and her manner in our occasional meetings brought home to me the severity of her condition, he said.
Brand noted that for himself, at the age of 27, through friends he was introduced to support fellowships for alcoholics and drug addicts which are very easy to find and open to anybody with a desire to stop drinking and without which I would not be alive.
We have lost a beautiful and talented woman to this disease, he said.
He said whether or not her death was preventable was now irrelevant.
All we can do is adapt the way we view this condition, not as a crime or a romantic affectation but as a disease that will kill, he said, and advocated for viewing people in that situation as sick people in need of care.
It is cheaper to rehabilitate an addict than to send them to prison, so criminalization doesn't even make economic sense, he said.
Not all of us know someone with the incredible talent that Amy had but we all know drunks and junkies and they all need help and the help is out there. All they have to do is pick up the phone and make the call. Or not. Either way, there will be a phone call.