What Can the Music Industry Teach You about Recovery from Addiction?
People in the music industry—artists, managers, agents, label executives, lawyers, etc.—are often held accountable for encouraging addiction. It seems there have always been lyrics that celebrate getting drunk and getting high. Authors of the research study “Content Analysis of Tobacco, Alcohol, and Other Drugs in Popular Music” determined that kids are receiving roughly 35 references to substance abuse with each hour of music they listen to.
It doesn’t take the average person long to come up with a list of musicians who are dealing with, have dealt with, or have died from addiction. Examples of artists that paid for their substance use with their lives include:
- Rolling Stones’ Brian Jones
- Who’s Keith Moon
- Doors’ Jim Morrison
- Sex Pistols’ Sid Vicious
- Janis Joplin
- Sublime’s Bradley Nowell
- The Ramone’s Dee Dee Ramone
- Whitney Houston
- Amy Winehouse
The risk of death that accompanies addiction is well documented. But, what does the music industry have to teach people about recovery?
The music industry has been battling piracy for some time and although it may seem far removed from strict examples of substance abuse, there is a lesson to learn from piracy: don’t let others take what is valuable from you.
Members of the music industry work very hard to create a product and people in recovery work very hard to make progress. If, during recovery, you give your time and energy to people who don’t return your efforts with love and support, you aren’t getting the profit that you deserve. Be sure that your relationships with others are give-and-take.
In recent decades, members of the music industry have become more vocal than ever before about their addictions and their treatment. Beginning in the 1980s, Aerosmith went public with their sobriety and it opened the door for other big-name acts, including:
- Boy George
- Eric Clapton
- Elton John
- James Taylor
- Scott Weiland
Being open about the struggle of sobriety is particularly important, as drug and alcohol addiction remains largely a silent battle and this leads to a treatment gap in this country. Begin speaking to someone about the struggle of your sobriety by calling 800-481-6320 and setting up an appointment.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “In 2013, an estimated 22.7 million Americans (8.6 percent) needed treatment for a problem related to drugs or alcohol, but only about 2.5 million people (0.9 percent) received treatment at a specialty facility.”
Don’t add to the difficulty of recovery by trying to keep the struggle hidden. When you are more open with your support network about the battles you are facing, they can be a more effective in caring for you.
Remember the System
When a musical act decides to seek treatment, their career depends upon maintaining the work environment that supported their drug use in the first place. This means that the focus of recovery can’t be placed solely on the addict, like so many people want to do. Instead, the entire system of addiction—bandmates, roadies, managers, and more—needs to be treated. There is even a sober road crew database to help make the best recovery system possible for musicians. If the system still isn’t workable after treatment and recovery adjustments, many choose to leave the music industry entirely.
As you move forward in recovery, your system needs attention as well. You can only change so many aspects of your life as you recover and it is important to focus on those that you can shift to better accommodate your recovery. Think about the role every person and place in your life plays in your sobriety and adjust accordingly. If some of these factors simply prevent your recovery, you have to leave them behind.
As sobriety rose in importance for many members of the musical industry, new approaches to maintaining that sobriety were developed. For example, MusiCares, a non-profit that helps musicians struggling with addiction and other human service issues, instituted a Safe Harbor Room: featuring 12-step support meetings, fellowship and more for anyone working the music event they are placed in. The concept has caught on and Safe Harbor Rooms are in-place at most major music festivals.
There are also trends in drug and alcohol treatment and recovery. Don’t assume that every rehabilitation center is the same as another or that the methods remain unchanging. That isn’t the case. This year alone ushered in the final regulations for the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which widens insurance coverage of addiction treatment and this means more staff can be trained and new methods can be employed. Progress in both treatment and recovery is happening. Call 800-481-6320 to speak with someone about your recovery and some of the innovations that can help your sobriety succeed.