Though the official cause of death will take a few weeks to come, Amy Winehouse’s family is saying that alcohol withdrawal was the cause, according to news reports.
The 27-year-old singer’s family told Britain’s The Sunthat her abstention from alcohol cold-turkey — instead of doing what her doctors recommended and gradually tapering off heavy alcohol consumption — caused shock to her body, and ultimately, her death.
Even though this cause of death is just the family’s suspicion, alcohol withdrawal is a very real condition. Symptoms include anxiety, depression, fatigue, unclear thinking, headache and nausea. It can also cause sweating hand or body tremors and rapid heart rate, according to the National Institutes of Health.
The severe kind of alcohol withdrawal, called delirium tremens, can also cause seizures, severe confusion, hallucinations and fever. Delirium tremens can also cause death.
Alcohol withdrawal can be mild or life-threatening, depending on the organ damage the person has already suffered from drinking, and on how suddenly the person stops drinking, according to the NIH.
According to a study in the journal American Family Physician, 226,000 people were discharged from a short-stay hospital with a diagnosis of alcohol withdrawal, alcohol withdrawal delirium or alcohol withdrawal hallucinosis. However, the researchers of that study wrote, the number of people with alcohol withdrawal symptom is likely higher because not everyone seeks medical attention.