Substance Abuse Issues in the Music Industry

Each and every year it feels like we lose some truly special talent from the world of music or entertainment to substance abuse issues, and some years we lose a lot more than just one.

In the last 10 years we’ve lost dozens and dozens of once in a lifetime talents including Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse, and more – all of them because of substance abuse issues that may have been prevented or resolved. And while researchers will tell you that alcohol and drug abuse is running rampant these days all throughout the general population, it doesn’t take an advanced degree from an Ivy League university to realize that the music and entertainment industry is hit significantly harder than most any other “niche community”.

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For years and years now, professionals across a variety of different areas, including Berkeley Personal Injury Lawyers, have tried to figure out why substance abuse issues are so prevalent in the music and entertainment industry, and though many of them have come up with a variety of different answers they still cannot come to a general consensus.

Hopefully we’ll be able to shed a little bit of light on this incredible and heartbreaking issue, and maybe even provide a couple of resources for those looking to get help so they don’t end up as just another statistic.

Substance abuse issues run rampant in the music and entertainment industry

There is no small amount of professionals in the music and entertainment industry that have come clean about their substance abuse problems, including megastar celebrities like Robert Downey Jr. The individuals that are able to beat back the substance abuse demons are rather candid about their long journey to redemption, and many of them point to a “perfect storm” of conditions that lead them to get into these sticky situations in the first place.

Robert Downey Jr. in particular has outlined why he believes he was so easily able to dive headfirst into the world of substance abuse at a young age as a celebrity, stating that he was young, impressionable, flush with cash, and feeling alone because of the isolation a job in the entertainment industry brings to the table.

Traveling all of time makes it difficult to create long-lasting and healthy relationships, and when you combine that with the fact that these industries in particular are so cut-throat and competitive – just overflowing with competition and someone waiting in the wings to steal the spotlight – it’s easy to see why so many succumb to the pressure and turn to substance abuse to help them “mellow out”.

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On top of that, these young professionals are almost always surrounded by “yes men”, people that are less interested in making sure that they lead happy, healthy, and successful lives as they are in making sure that their bread is buttered along the way.

These perfect storm conditions can lead to a whirlwind of substance abuse, even for those that appear to have absolutely everything going for them..

Why are celebrities so likely to fall victim to substance abuse issues in the first place?

Though we’ve outlined some of the most common reasons that celebrities, musicians, and entertainers get sucked into the world of substance abuse, another common reason is because they are pulled into that kind of lifestyle, the “celebrity lifestyle” and that’s just part of the game.

This is very much a tight-knit community of individuals that are incredibly creative, incredibly wealthy, and very influential from a young age – many of which are nervous about their position in life, whether or not their talent is as “real deal” as they have been led to believe it to be, and struggling with all of the stress and pressure that a life in the public eye brings to the table.

Many musicians have built up an almost mythos surrounding drug abuse and how it influences creativity, with some musicians claiming that they simply would not be the artist that they are without the help of chemical substances to tap into as a muse. While it’s impossible to discount this out of hand entirely, the truth of the matter is they are in a very dangerous and precarious situation that usually ends up in a nightmare more times than not.

What kind of help is there available to those in the music and entertainment industry looking for a way out?

At the end of the day celebrities have a variety of outlets and resources that they are able to tap into when they want to battle back from substance abuse issues. Their managers, their agents, and their friends and family all have vested interest in making sure that they are able to get back on track – and they almost always have the funds and resources to do so at the top facilities available.

Musicians who have been arrested for DUI and how they have been punished

During the 1960s and 1970s, it seemed as if it was absolutely impossible to be considered a true rock star if you weren’t battling as many drug abuse demons as humanly possible – and still putting on the show of your life each and every single night out.

Performers like The Doors, The Who, the Sex Pistols, the Rolling Stones, Ozzy Osbourne, and others all have been pretty candid about their experiences with drug abuse and drug addiction, and that the decades mentioned above were some of the most drug fueled in human history, and also produced some of the greatest music ever.

Thankfully, the overwhelming majority of those drug abuse and substance-abuse issues subsided from the 1990s on, though some are nervous that those wild and crazy days are coming back into vogue today – especially with the amount of celebrities and musicians that are fighting serious drug addiction and drug abuse habits right now.

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Musicians like Courtney Love, Jeff Tweedy, Jo Dee Messina, Scott Weiland, Kelly Osbourne (daughter of Ozzy), and more have all fallen victim to drug abuse and substance abuse issues, though they haven’t suffered the ultimate fate that some musicians like Whitney Houston have, thankfully.

Doctors, drug counselors, and other industry insiders argue that today things are a lot calmer now than they were in the past, but they aren’t saying that drug addiction is for the history books in the music industry. Musicians are still getting high, still abusing drugs, and still turning to substances to fight through whatever it is that allows them to become so creative and so inspired in the first place – and that’s why a significant amount of these celebrities have been arrested for a DUI or other drug-related crimes and punished along the way.

Musicians that have been caught – and punished – for DUI/drug abuse issues in the recent past

It isn’t all that challenging to find a list of a dozen or more musicians and celebrities that have been caught with substance abuse issues, many of them charged with a DUI, and some of them even having to spend a little bit of time behind bars because of these crimes.

Lindsay Lohan is a prime example of a musician/entertainer that has struggled with substance abuse and addiction over the last few years, and she was arrested for a DUI multiple times over the last four years before being sentenced to time in a real jail. Critics of the court system allege that her stay was considerably shorter than most anyone else would have been were they put in the same situation. In essence they believe she received preferential treatment, but in reality, she received the same punishment a non-celebrity would have.

Chad Kroger (lead vocalist of Nickelback) was arrested and convicted of drunk driving in June 2006, driving around with a blood alcohol level that was almost twice the legal limit. He was required to pay a significant fine, serve time doing community service, and commit to substance-abuse classes and therapy – and has thus far stayed out of the news for similar reasons.

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Flo Rida (the rapper) was arrested in June 2011 for a DUI, and his arrest was further compounded after the arresting officer discovered that he was not only driving with a blood alcohol level twice the legal limit, but that he was also driving around with a suspended driver’s license. He was hit with a significant fine, had his license suspension extended, and was required to participate in community service and alcohol abuse classes.

Nick Carter (of the Backstreet Boys) was arrested in March 2005 while driving under the influence, though he fought his arrest and came to a plea deal before a conviction was put on the books. The details of his settlement weren’t released to the public. It’s likely that he had to pay a significant fine and commit to therapy sessions, and today he has publicly stated that he is completely sober – and has been sober since that incident.

Celebrity arrests for DUIs have fallen off significantly in the last few years

Though the media makes a major deal out of every celebrity arrest, and an even more significant deal out of every arrest related to drug or substance abuse issues, the truth of the matter is fewer and fewer celebrities are getting into this kind of trouble now than ever before.

Yes, celebrities, musicians, and entertainers are always likely going to have to battle substance abuse issues (it’s a major part of the “celebrity culture”), but more and more these people are realizing that the bottom line matters most – and they will be completely cut off from their business partners, managers, and their entire career if they are able to clean up their image, shoot straight, and stay out of trouble.