I am in the last few subjects of a Bachelor of Psychology and Addiction Studies and this has brought on a curiosity about substance addictions. Being an avid reader and fan of music I also have a fascination with books about music and musicians. On my book shelf I have biographies of nine musicians or groups and when I go to the library I will generally get one biography. On a recent trip to the library I picked up “I am the voice left from rehab” the second tragic biography of James Freud, who battled addiction from his teens. Tragically he took his own life in 2010. Of the nine biographies on my shelf only Sting’s “Broken Music” is not about the performers addiction.

Cover of "Scar Tissue"

Cover of Scar Tissue

This has got me wondering about the music industry and the propensity for those in the industry to use drugs or alcohol. Now this is not an article standing in judgement of these people or their choices, I am writing this to explore the possible reasons for this and is there any way it can be stopped? How many more Whitney Houston’s, Amy Whinehouse’s or others do we need to see destroy themselves before the root cause is found and preventative measures are put in place?

Before you can stop something reoccurring you need to find what causes the problem in the first place. Why is it that the music industry has a proliferation of drug and alcohol use? What causes these talented people to become addicted to drugs and alcohol and destroy their talent and lives, and the lives of those around them? Now many may think why bother examining these people, they are wealthy and have everything, they do it to themselves let them suffer. Well to those who think this I suggest you are unable to comprehend addiction and the hold it has on a person. Before we judge lets look at what may cause this.

I Have Nothing

I Have Nothing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the many biographies I have read there are only a handful that have started their drug and alcohol journey early – Anthony Keidis “Scar Tissue”, Steve Adler “My apettite for destruction” and James Freud “I am the voice left from rehab” for example. Many of the others started their journey after becoming a part of the music industry. The Beatles for example were introduced to illicit substances during their time in Hamburg to cope with their gruelling schedules. Is this an excuse or a commendable reason, not necessarily but it is a sad reality.

The question that should be asked is how many music promoters, record company executives and band managers are responsible for providing access to these substances? Should they be held accountable? Should young impressionable musicians be provided with psychological tools to enable them to cope with the adulation and boredom that comes with the territory? I don’t have the answers, but I do know that over glorifying subtance abuse and the lifestyle of rock stars is only adding to the problem. Meanwhile lets celebrate the wonderful gift these people have given us with their talents.

Amy Winehouse at Bowery Ballroom 18

Amy Winehouse at Bowery Ballroom 18 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)