Musicians, Addiction and Recovery
One group I didn’t include was musicians, and lord knows enough of them have problems with addiction. The list seems endless: Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain are just three who died from overdoses.
I don’t know what it is about the lifestyle, but drug abuse seems so ingrained in it it’s scary. Why does the creative process, and this particular art especially, result in so many people taking such copious quantities of drugs? Last year, an article in The Wall Street Journal called The Rehab Album cited a number of albums by artists who got sober. It mentioned how good the quality of the work can be on these albums.
The WSJ article noted that Rapper Eminem titled one album “Recovery” and that when Eric Clapton stopped using alcohol and heroin, he produced Journeyman and his career soared.
In the last few months I tried to read the memoir by Rolling Stones’ guitarist Keith Richards but found it too cumbersome. Here’s what the WSJ writer said about this musician:
Among those not buying into the “Celebrity Rehab” school of repentant confession: Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, whose iconic status for nearly half a century has been inextricably—and often glamorously—linked to his dissolute lifestyle. Riding high on the bestseller list, his “Life” memoir opens in 1975 with the guitarist holding a varied stash (marijuana, peyote, pharmaceutical-grade cocaine) and getting arrested in Arkansas, only to walk away in time for a concert in Dallas.
Throughout the book he is largely unapologetic about his drug intake, chalking up his longevity to his expertise as a user: “It’s not only to the high quality of the drugs I had that I attribute my survival. I was very meticulous about how much I took.”
I found the memoir of Aerosmith’s lead singer Stephen Tyler slightly easier to read (“Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?”), although he probably matched Richards in drug use. In this video he agreed with Oprah Winfrey that it’s amazing he’s alive today.
One support group for musicians in recovery is The MusiCares Foundation. This organization offers different types of assistance, but help with drug treatment is one of them. Yahoo also has a group.
Musicians who recover and then speak about their lost years and what recovery means to them do such a service. Those who continue to get into trouble and make the news do not make for entertaining reading. Well, not for me, anyway.
Note from Joan Borsten:
MusiCares has paid part of the cost of treatment for several of the musicians we have had in treatment at Malibu Beach Recovery Center. We are always grateful for the organization’s help and support, effectively administered by Harold Owens.