Successful treatment outcomes generally occur more frequently when treatment is customized to a person’s unique circumstances and lifestyle. For a musician, this individualized treatment may entail teaching them sober living skills that can help them better manage the demands of a performing life.
Performing music, whether it be professionally or as a hobby, can be an engaging and fulfilling passion. But as the influence of substance use becomes more apparent, important responsibilities and activities that once brought a person pleasure, including music, can become severely compromised. In addition to this, drug use can quickly spiral out of control, leading to addiction, painful withdrawal, overdose, and serious physical and mental health problems.
Comprehensive treatment can help a person’s body and mind to heal while helping them to establish healthy and sober ways to stimulate and rediscover their creative process. Further, the most effective programs teach sober living principles, including relapse prevention, coping, and stress-reduction skills, that can help a person balance the success and challenges of this lifestyle.
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Musicians And Substance Use
The relationship between drug and alcohol use and a musician’s lifestyle can be deeply intertwined. But, like anyone else who faces substance use, one thing is certain: the longer use continues, the greater the chance of addiction and adverse health effects. Eventually, as substance use and the damage it causes becomes more severe, a person’s musical career could rapidly begin to deteriorate.
The path to addiction is varied, but for a musician, it often revolves around the creative process. Many musicians first come to drugs or alcohol in an attempt to find inspiration or stimulate creative thinking, whether it be while writing lyrics or composing a melody.
Some people feel that drugs or alcohol allow them to feel more fully or deeply, but the devastating truth is that after time, substance use can cause great emotional and mental instability, while also dulling a person’s cognitive abilities.
Some musicians may also drink or use drugs to:
- enhance their performance.
- cope with their rigorous practice and performance schedule.
- self-medicate physical or mental health problems.
- wind down after a full day of rehearsals and performances.
Despite the rush of the crowds and engaging venues, the life of a performing musician can create a sense of loneliness and isolation. Performing can frequently take a person away from home and family, a way of life that can be exhausting and unpredictable at times.
Sometimes this on-the-go lifestyle and the late hours that frequently accompany it create tension or resentment at home with loved ones. Some musicians may drink or use drugs to numb these negative emotional states, both on the road and when they return home. Others may use substances as a way of developing a sense of camaraderie or acceptance when they’re feeling lonely or out of touch with their lives.
Substance Use And Music Performance Anxiety
A number of musicians may begin using drugs or alcohol to combat the sense of apprehensive, panic, anxiety, and other emotions that accompany state fright, or music performance anxiety. Music performance anxiety, a subtype of social anxiety disorder, can be damaging to a person’s career and continue to act as a trigger for substance use if not treated properly.
Instead of getting professional help to reduce these pre-performance jitters or fear, certain musicians may drink backstage or take certain drugs. Some people continue to use these substances while they perform their set, while others take them after to calm down. With alcohol, this can be especially tempting, as many live-music venues are at bars and clubs that serve alcohol.
One scientific article examined substance use in musicians who used drugs or alcohol to self-treat music performance anxiety. It reported that 27 percent took propranolol or a different beta-blocker. In the majority of these cases, this was without a prescription. Additionally:
- 12% drank alcohol
- 5% took anxiolytics (anti-anxiety medications)
- 4% took antidepressants
In addition to these, they also noted that sedatives, hypnotics, and ADHD medications were used in higher frequencies.
Self-treating a behavioral health condition like music performance anxiety can lead to addiction. Changing the dosage of a personal prescription by increasing the amount or frequency of the dose is considered drug use, as is using another person’s medication in an attempt to reduce symptoms. Sedatives, hypnotics, and anti-anxiety drugs can include benzodiazepines. Both these and stimulant ADHD medications can be highly addictive and cause an overdose.
Regardless of why a person is abusing alcohol or drugs, continuing to use these substances can develop into a pattern, setting the stage for addiction.
Common Types Of Drug Use Musicians May Face
While any form of the drug may be used by a musician, research has shown that certain drugs may be used more widely than others.
A Psychology of Music analysis studied substance use in both professional and amateur musicians. Of this group, alcohol was the drug of choice for the majority of people studied. Specifically:
- 59 percent consumed alcohol one or more times per week.
- 29.5 percent took part in binge drinking one or more times per week.
- 75 percent confronted alcohol-related problems occasionally
- 9 percent death with alcohol-related problems weekly
The analysis also found other patterns of substance use, notably that the following illicit drugs were used most heavily:
- prescription drugs
Like alcohol, a significant number of the musicians sampled engaged in drug use:
- 50 percent used marijuana at least once
- 24.9 used marijuana every week
- 42 percent engaged in illicit drug use (besides marijuana) one to two times per year
- 10.2 percent engaged in illicit drug use (besides marijuana) on average of once per week
Certain drugs, like cocaine and heroin, are highly addictive. Abusing these substances once can create an intense sense of reward and pleasure that drives a person to use the drug again, a behavior that could place them closer to addiction.
In addition to these substances, the following classes of drugs may be used by musicians:
- Stimulants: Prescription ADHD medications (Adderall, Ritalin) or cocaine may be used to help a person stay awake, focused, and energized during a performance, long practice sessions, or extended travels on the road.
- Opioid painkillers: Certain instruments and types of musical performance can be very hard on the body. For career musicians, this may create chronic pain or health problems. Some musicians may begin to self-medicate by misusing their own prescription pain relievers or by abusing medications they obtain illegally.
- Sedatives: Touring, performing, and the rigors of rehearsals can be immensely stressful. After the excitement of a performance, some people may have difficulty winding down. Other individuals may struggle with a mental health problem, such as anxiety or depression. Benzodiazepine medications, like Valium and Xanax, are some of the most frequently used sedative drugs. They may be used to self-treat conditions like this. Sleeping pills, such as Z-drugs like Ambien (zolpidem), may be used as well.
Addiction Treatment For Musicians
Addiction treatment consists of a continuum of care, reaching from professional intervention services to rehab, and in the time beyond treatment, aftercare support. The exact path through treatment, and the treatments used, often varies per person.
Person-centric care generally delivers the best and most long-lasting results, and because of this, it’s important for a person to research their treatment options prior to enrolling in a program. A clinical assessment can provide guidance at this time. This evaluation helps treatment providers to determine how severe the addiction is, what treatments and therapies might work best to treat it, and the form and length of treatment.
A growing number of specialized treatment programs exist today, with offerings that appeal to a wide variety of interests and lifestyles. Treatment may be delivered by either a faith-based, 12-step or holistic, non-12-step approach. Other options include gender-specific (men’s- and women’s-only), LGBTQ-friendly, luxury, and professional (executive) treatment programs.
A personalized addiction treatment plan may include a combination of treatments and services, including the following:
When a drug enters a person’s system on a regular basis, their body can become dependent on it to function normally. In the absence of the drug, or when the dose is significantly reduced, a person can become very sick and go into withdrawal. Withdrawal can become painful or dangerous, especially if the drug of use is alcohol, benzodiazepines, or opioid drugs.
During medical detox, highly trained clinicians monitor a person’s medical needs and vitals while their body cleanses the drug from its system. During this time, various medications, nutritional support, and hydration may be administered to encourage a person’s body to heal.
Certain programs offer medication-assisted treatment options that extend beyond detox. These programs use medications to help a person maintain sobriety as they progress through treatment and into recovery.
Outpatient Addiction Treatment
Outpatient care serves a variety of purposes in addiction treatment. As a standalone treatment, outpatient care may be better for people who need to recover from mild to moderate addictions. It’s also a good resource for people who are fearful they may relapse or for those who have recently experienced a mild relapse.
For many, one of the most successful ways to use outpatient treatment is as a support for inpatient care. In this way, outpatient treatment acts as a step-down treatment. This means it creates a bridge between the structure of residential care and the freedom of community living. This can help people to remain focus and inspired on their recovery while offering resources that help them maintain their sober living skills.
Inpatient Addiction Treatment
While it may be hard for some musicians to leave a demanding performing schedule, enrolling in a residential treatment program can help a person build a strong and sober life that helps their musical career flourish.
Inpatient drug rehab centers form a therapeutic community that better protects a person from the pressures and temptations of day-to-day life. Each day is structured around the pursuit of sobriety and the development of positive, sober living skills. After the tumultuous life of addiction and the busy schedule of many performing musicians, this routine and structure can be a welcome relief that shapes and inspires a person’s recovery.
Behavioral therapy and counseling sessions support a person as they take an active role in overcoming negative thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that could fuel drug use and threaten their sobriety. These are typically offered in an individual, group, and family setting.
The best programs use these sessions to teach people positive habits of self-care and life skills that nurture sobriety. Family therapies may be especially beneficial for individuals who have witnessed strain on their home life from both performing and addiction.
Many facilities integrate evidence-based treatments with exciting holistic therapies. This mind-body-spirit approach brings greater balance to a person’s life, while also giving them an opportunity to be invigorated by life again, an effect that can positively impact the creative process.
Mindfulness and stress management practices are one alternative therapy that has been shown to improve sober living and musical endeavors. Research suggests that mindfulness could help reduce music performance anxiety, among other benefits. Music therapy sessions may also be used to help a musician work through past traumas, build self-confidence, and rediscover the simple joys of music.
Aftercare And Alumni Support Services
A newly recovered life is worth celebrating. It is also an investment that should be protected and nurtured. Recovery can be challenging, especially in the period directly after a person leaves treatment. For a musician who is returning to the challenges and demands of their music, this can be even truer.
Aftercare and alumni support programs can be a valuable and inspiring resource during this time. Many facilities provide these services to their alumni, while others may be available in a person’s community.
These may include alumni mentorship opportunities, self-help groups, self-improvement classes, and sober living homes. These programs can help keep a person grounded and accountable when they come home. Additionally, an increasing number of recovery resources are offered online, a format that can help a musician while they’re touring.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment Programs For Musicians
Dual diagnosis programs treat co-occurring disorders (when addiction occurs with a mental health disorder) in one seamless approach. For a musician, this can be a valuable and potentially life-changing treatment option.
MusicTank found that a large number of musicians across all genres experience certain mental health problems:
- 71.1 percent reported that they’re had panic attacks or acute anxiety
- 68.5 percent reported that they’ve struggled with depression
Mental health problems and addiction can trigger each other if not properly treated. Even once a person is sober, an untreated mental illness can act as a trigger for drug or alcohol use, prompting relapse. Other mental illnesses that may be treated in these programs include:
- attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- bipolar disorder (BD)
- eating disorders
- personality disorders
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
The best dual diagnosis treatment programs use behavioral therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy, to treat underlying issues that affect each disorder. By treating both, a person has an increased chance of better health, stability, sobriety, and recovery success.
Reach out to Vertava Health today for more information addiction treatment for musicians.