Amy Winehouse turned to drugs at the height of her success, because heroin "seemed more appealing" than her dizzying fame, according to pop peer Lily Allen.
The Smile singer used to party with the tragic star, who was found dead in her London home in July (11), and insists she didn't envy Winehouse's constant presence in the British tabloids.
She tells London's Evening Standard newspaper, "(I felt) really sad. But I also felt that she'd become such a cartoon character of herself. Her death almost didn't feel real because her life had virtually been lived in the newspapers near the end.
"I've had nights out with Amy and I know exactly what used to go on. I also spent time with her at her house in Camden. Not the one she died in, the one before. I felt very trapped by the presence of 40 paparazzi guys, hysterical outside her front door.
"I could totally see why she didn't want to leave her house. It seemed more appealing to stay in and take heroin. Why would anyone want that chaos in their life? It's not something anyone chooses.
"Amy struggled... She wanted a real life. She wanted to go down to the pub and she couldn't."
Allen, who is now married and expecting her first child, feels fortunate she was able to turn her back on London's party scene.
She adds, "When Amy died, I got several texts from friends saying they were really glad I was still here. That I hadn't died too. It's so easy to get caught up in that madness and I count my lucky stars I've been strong enough to walk away."