The world is full of songs of loss and love—but few losses are felt in the music community as deeply as those of the artists and friends we’ve lost to addiction and substance use.
Much has been said of the “creative personality” and it’s pre-disposition to addiction, but the physiological, psychological and social factors that contribute to addiction are complex. Nevertheless, a career in the music industry can present some unique pressures and triggers; the irregular workdays and frequent travel can make it easy to fall into problematic habits of alcohol or drug use without obvious disruptions to your daily life. And since the music professional is often surrounded by celebration—the party is a core part of the job—it may not occur to someone that how they are living is damaging. It can seem like what everyone is doing.
It’s a cliché, but it’s true; the first step is admitting there is a problem. If people you love are concerned about your substance use, that’s something to take seriously, but only you can decide for yourself if you need to make a change.
There is no one-size-fits all approach to overcoming addiction, and treatment options depend on your case. Speaking to a doctor is a good place to start. You can also call our free, private mental health and wellness hotline to speak to a counsellor about the tools and programs available through Unison.
Harvard Health Publication offers these three quick questions as a place to begin. If you answer “Yes” to any of them, it would be wise to speak to a health care provider for further evaluation and guidance.
- Do you use more of the substance or engage in the behaviour more often than in the past?
- Do you have withdrawal symptoms when you don’t have the substance or engage in the behaviour?
- Have you ever lied to anyone about your use of the substance or extent of your behaviour?
We can all fight the stigma and reject the myth of the ‘Tortured Artist’
As a community, we can support one another best when we challenge the self-defeating misconception that addiction and suffering are the outward signs of musical genius. Although this idea remains powerful, nobody has ever wanted to become an addict.
As a host, friend, bandmate or fan, remember to respect other people’s limits and credit the person—not the addiction—for the contributions they make to music.
Unison’s Assistance Program is always free and completely confidential.