In fact, substance abuse among artists has always been a common occurrence. Furthermore, it doesn’t matter whether we are talking about the 1920s, 1960s or the fast-paced 21st century. The question to be asked, however, is why do artists rely on drugs? Do drugs increase their creativity? Do they help artists escape to the world known only to them, or are there other reasons we might not know about?
Why are Musicians Vulnerable to Drug Addiction?
Incidentally, Steven Tyler, the lead singer of the renowned band Aerosmith described his performances while on drugs as “being unaware.” “Heroin felt like a warm cloak that gives you comfort…it makes you feel comfortable”, he admitted during his interview with Oprah in 2012. Thus, perhaps due to feelings of safety combined with comfort, musicians are in a vulnerable spot and easily fall victim to addictive substances. In addition, this is more evident when having to deal with the pressure of performing in front of hundreds of people. In other words, drugs help artists escape reality and immerse themselves in a world where they can feel unencumbered and free to perform.
Many artists claim that using drugs helps them tap into their creative side and bring out the “real artist” in them. For example, they include alcohol, opium, heroin, hash or other substances. Purportedly, they feel no shyness and are free to explore uncharted areas in their niche. Apparently, drugs banish all borders. As a result, free the singer, actor, poet and painter to express their art as freely as possible.
However, besides enhancing thinking and creativity, a well-known fact is that drug use can easily get out of hand. Moreover, even the most cautious artist can lose control and become dependent on a substance—not to mention the issue of an overdose.
What are the Environmental Factors That Lead to Drug Use in the Musician Community?
Regrettably, musicians have relied on substance abuse to bring out their creative side for decades. For example, Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, and Whitney Houston are just some of the famous singers who could not say no to drugs. Environmental factors that usually influence an artist’s decision to rely on drugs are usually:
- Peer pressure
- Pressures of show business
- Stage fright
- Feelings of being inadequate
- Lack of energy
How do Drugs Affect an Artist’s Brain?
As it has been mentioned before, drugs provide comfort, free one from all inhibitions and enhance creativity, but the question is how? What happens in one’s brain when using a substance to enhance creativity? Research shows, the answer may lie in certain drugs’ ability to create a certain process between brain cells. In other words, the brain is able to make a certain connection that it would not make otherwise. For example, heroine gets them high. Thus, heroin has the “power” to actuate those links during the neurological processes. Consequently, an artist ends up having profound and unique thoughts, which manifest themselves in his/her art form. In the end, doing more substance abuse.
Dangers of Drugs in an Artist’s World
Of course, the body of an artist is no different from that of a plumber or teacher. The side effects of drugs affect artists the same way they do everyone else. However, different drugs cause different side effects, and the danger may increase when mixing various substances.
Most Commonly Used Drugs by Artists Include:
- Solvents (aerosols, gases, and glues)
- Minor tranquilizers (not prescribed)
Common Side Effects Include:
- Cold sweats
- Weakening of the immune system
- Respiratory (breathing)issues
- Muscular weakness
- Impotence in men
- Menstrual disturbance in women
History of Drug Usage in the Musician Community
Tragically, some of the most famous artists have had a substance abuse problem during their career. For example, we can go back as far as the 1920s as well as mention Eddie Fisher and Johnny Cash. Meanwhile, we can skip to the 50s and 60s with Brian Wilson, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and many others. Even the Beatles took LSD. Unfortunately, some of the world’s best performers have lost their life to drugs. However, others have come out on the winning end from substance abuse and continue to perform to this day. Some of them are Steven Tyler, Billy Idol, Eric Clapton, and the baffling Keith Richards.