When a celebrity musician ignores warning signs, pleas from friends and family and their own better judgment to end their substance abuse and addiction by whatever means necessary, it is consistently to their own demise. Addiction and substance abuse are paths frequented by celebrity musicians, and the extreme cases are not pretty. Highly talented artists who were well-respected for their musical abilities have been lost to addiction and substance abuse, either professionally or mortally. Some are simply brazen about their substance abuse or addiction while others badly want to quit but do not know how. Either way, doing nothing to reverse the unhealthy lifestyle often ends in professional ruin or death.
The tragic cases are the hardest ones to swallow. When a celebrity musician is addicted to something like alcohol that is seldom the cause of immediate death, it frequently ends in the ruin of their career. A drinking problem never helped anyone succeed at anything, and the music industry is no exception. Judy Garland is an example of a career that declined drastically due to alcohol abuse. Many of her later career appearances exhibited clear signs of her alcoholism. Garland, as well as artists such as Amy Winehouse, Billie Holiday and many more lost their lives to drug overdoses or alcoholism, leaving their loved ones and fans to mourn them.
On a more hopeful note, other celebrity musicians who struggle with addiction or substance abuse make a full recovery. Musicians such as Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones and Johnny Mathis are both in their seventies, and live to tell about their personal recoveries from extreme substance abuse. For some musicians, the respect for their craft is enough to bring them back to sobriety. Others wisely seek addiction and substance abuse treatment to restore the quality of their lives and their music. This goes to show that it is never too late to regain your life, even when you are a celebrity musician receiving addictive offers as part of the job.
I will never forget my mother telling me about the time she saw her musical idol in concert, and he was so drunk that he nearly fell off the stage. She was heart broken and moved away from his music after that incident. It is not an accident that addiction and substance abuse are particular to the culture of music celebrity. In fact, some research has shown that people who tend toward creative endeavors are naturally more inclined toward substance abuse and addiction.
The story is all too familiar. A young musician starts out penniless and passionate, requiring nothing but their instrument and some performance space to get by. For them, it is about nothing but creating and performing music to the best of their ability. Most musicians are particularly focused when they are working to begin their careers.
When their hard work and dedication is received with praise and fan-ship, a musician has fulfilled their primary purpose in life. Their craft has been honored and their talent validated. Having made it to a celebrity status in their career, they feel that they are on top of the world.
However, the lifestyle of celebrity is quickly revealed to come with trials and temptations. The stress of having no privacy deeply affects the lives of many celebrities. To cope, an overwhelming availability of drugs and alcohol are made available to them, as well as other addictive substances and activities. Musicians and other artists are commonly sensitive, feeling personalities who seek life to the fullest end, and are naturally inclined toward experimentation. Thus, the indulgence in addictive substances and activities begins.
The experimental nature of an artist can quickly work against them when dealing with addictive substances and activities. The desire to go further into the high or mood alteration that an artist craves leads them into a habit that cannot be controlled, and the musician’s addiction begins. Their illustrious musical career becomes tarnished as performances diminish and creative ability decreases. Their following begins to notice changes in their appearance and behaviors, and it is only a matter of time before their problem is exploited in the media.
Some musicians recover from addiction and substance abuse, usually by turning back to their musical drive, while others are defeated by it, losing their careers and even their lives. It is a tragedy when lives and talent are destroyed by addiction and substance abuse, and musicians should know that help is available to them if they are seeking a way out of addiction or substance abuse.
It has been observed that musicians are a more likely group of people to struggle with addiction problems. However, it does not usually start out this way. Substance abuse and a life of excess are usually introduced to the musician once they receive acclaim for their music. When a musician starts out, it is almost always the same thing that universally motivates musicians to succeed: the love of music. A musicians love for music and need to create it is synonymous with their identity. It is this creative passion that leads them to the music industry, and interestingly, is also typically the thing that saves them from addiction and substance abuse.
Most musicians have next to nothing when they are starting out. Occasionally a strong musician comes from a musical dynasty and has relatives and connections in the industry, but much of what we consider musical genius actually evolves from street musicians, traveling musicians and those who had to work their way up through playing bars and small music venues. A number of these musicians thrive on this lifestyle and it feeds into their creative abilities. This is usually a humble, driven phase of a musician’s career; one that will define who they are as a person and as a musician.
For most musicians who face struggles with addiction and substance abuse, this phase of their career is clean. In the years of fighting to be heard professionally and writing from the heart, a majority of musicians are not abusing drugs, alcohol, sex or any other addictive substance or behavior. This is not the case with all musicians. Some have already discovered and begun to exploit their addictive tendencies. Some are just beginning to dabble in substances, using marijuana, alcohol and other easily accessible substances. But for most, this is a period of time that is devoted more purely to music than any other time in life.