It is not uncommon to hear stories of well-known musicians going to rehab, or talented, enigmatic musicians dying of an overdose. This is a sad reality of music celebrity in our culture, but what exactly is the connection between musicians and addiction or substance abuse? The answer is complicated.
The latest bio-chemical studies of addiction indicate that those who are prone to addiction do not create as much dopamine as the average person. Dopamine is the chemical in the brain that tells us when something is pleasurable. In order to achieve this enjoyable chemical, people who are prone to addiction need to go to further extremes than the average person. Often, addicts are also high functioning persons who enjoy taking risks, immersing themselves in their endeavors and approaching life with large amounts of energy; all things that satisfy them on a psychological and a biochemical level. This applies to creative people as well.
This type of personality can focus itself down a healthy, productive path if the person has good decision making skills, or it can be snared by an unhealthy, addicted path that wreaks havoc on the person’s life. Because this kind of person tends to seek out higher stimulation than others, they can be a highly effective person or a highly addictive person.
This is very often true of the mentality of a musician. Music creation is an excellent use of a high-functioning brain, and some of the best music in history has come from artists who write and perfect their craft tirelessly because, you guessed it, it gives them an incredible high. This kind of productive activity is what nature intended for high functioning persons. However, addiction often gets its foot in the door when a person has psychological, environmental or emotional problems to deal with. Because many musical artists are sensitive in nature, they are commonly affected by mental disorders or mental unhealthiness, which is frequently an open door to addiction.
It is tragic that some of the most talented among us are some of the most affected by addiction and substance abuse, but there is hope. Many addiction treatment programs are designed specifically for musicians, and are often staffed by formerly addicted musicians who overcame their problem. If you or someone you know is an addicted musician, do not hesitate to seek the services of a rehabilitation program that is designed for creative individuals.