Why is there such a close association between musicians and substances? Will that ever stop?
Music and drugs have a long-standing relationship that has been romanticised in popular culture for decades. From Jimi Hendrix to Amy Winehouse, many talented musicians have turned to drugs as a means of coping with the pressures of fame and creative expression. However, the reality is that drug use can have severe negative impacts on both the individual musician and their loved ones.
Why do musicians take that road?
There are several reasons why so many musicians turn to drugs. Firstly, the music industry is notorious for its high-pressure environment. Musicians are often subjected to long hours in the studio, late nights, and a constant need to be on the road and performing. This pressure can lead to stress and anxiety, which can drive individuals towards drugs as a means of coping.
Alongside this, musicians of all stature are often surrounded by an environment that encourages drug use. The music industry has long been associated with the use of drugs, and many individuals who work in the industry may see drug use as a normal part of the culture. This can lead to musicians feeling pressured to engage in drug use as a means of fitting in and being accepted.
In some cases that’s had a severe negative impacts on a musician’s career and personal life. You only need to look at the infamous 27 club! Substance abuse can lead to poor decision-making, erratic behaviour, and an inability to meet professional obligations. This can ultimately result in cancelled shows, poor reviews, and a decline in fan support.
The impact of drug use on a musician’s personal life can also be devastating. Substance abuse can lead to strained relationships with loved ones, financial difficulties, and legal troubles. It’s an issue that continues to arise across music, and there are so many horror stories, all influenced by drugs, from Sid Vicious to Janis Joplin.
There is the knock-on effect too. Megastars have huge influence on their fans, and the glorification of drug use can create a dangerous culture where young and impressionable fans may be more likely to experiment with drugs. Every year we see people unfortunately pass away at music festivals, while it can also lead to a cycle of addiction that can be difficult to break.
Things are beginning to change though. Musicians often speak out about getting help with addiction and more musicians are looking after their own mental health, taking breaks from touring rather than getting through them on a concoction of alcohol and drugs.
It’s a major step forward and a number of artists are flying the flag for this. Ultimately, what that’s doing is changing the culture within the industry, and while there will always be drugs within it, the ability to say “no” is much more accessible too. Which can only be a good thing…