It’s no secret that the performing arts is one of the most (if not the most) at-risk industries for addiction considering the close proximity and constancy of drugs and alcohol, which have been glamorized for decades as a whole third of a credo many in the entertainment world still live by: “sex, drugs, and rock’n’ roll.” But while various documentaries, “artist tell-all” biographies, and landmark institutions like VH1’s Behind the Music have shed light on the real stories behind the dangers and tribulations of famous people’s lives through the lens of their struggles and losses, there’s been more limited exposition of how these issues affect venue staff and service workers behind the scenes.
If you or a coworker in the performing arts industry is struggling with addiction in the workplace, below is an incomplete list of various resources that can act as a rough guide to better understanding the effects of the disease and available options to research, learn about, and combat addiction. Luckily, after the well-documented excesses of the ‘70s and ‘80s, several organizations have cropped up that now focus on public health in the music industry, as well as plenty of literature on the subject, and even recommended films.
Performers and venue owners alike should all read some of these documents even if they’ve never worked with or had a loved one with drug and alcohol problems, simply to expand their perspective and store of knowledge on something that many adults do eventually come in contact with. In the performing arts that’s sadly more possible than for most. See below for ways that you as a venue staffer or operator can understand or direct those in need.
One of the most comprehensive resources on the web for this subject, Addiction Center’s website has an extensive article on addiction in the workplace detailing signs of abuse and how to move forward with treatment. There’s a 24/7 helpline available for those in need.
Krystina Murray wrote and compiled statistics for this handy primer for Alcoholrehabguide.org with that zeroes in on patterns linking binge drinking and service industry jobs, such as workers’ tendency to “self-medicate” due to co-occurring disorders.
Asana is an Orange County-based rehab facility in California with a noted awareness that musicians are “three or four times more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol than people employed in other careers.”
Keirda Bahruth’s 2011 documentary on Bob Forrest, frontman of the rock band Thelonious Monster turned celebrity drug counselor, features interviews with notable industry titans like Anthony Kiedis and Courtney Love who’ve struggled with addiction, and has perspective on how life before, during, and after substance abuse can proceed in the performing arts circles.
This piece from the website for the National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens focuses on harm reduction within the scope of concert and festival culture particularly among younger people.
One of the largest foundations devoted to helping music industry professionals recover from substance abuse.
Kristen McGuinness’ piece for addiction recovery blog The Fix details several of the organizations that have sprung up to reduce the epidemic of substance abuse in the music industry, including efforts launched by the Recording Academy.
The Grammy-founded nonprofit centered around the health and wellness of music industry professionals works extensively in addiction recovery treatment, especially with the advent of the Musicians Assistance Program in 2004.
This informative piece on NYU’s website has well-sourced quotes from professionals and visual graphs illustrating the data that links substance abuse and various industries, including the entertainment industry.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has a 24/7 national helpline to refer addicts to counseling.
This lengthy and all-encompassing article by Matt Gonzalez for DrugRehab.com delves into the specifics of why musicians and those in their proximity have historically turned to drugs, and more importantly, what we can do about it now.
This article explains why addiction is most prevalent in the hospitality industry, which overlaps significantly with other areas of nightlife such as music venue and nightclub professions.
This Washington Post investigationby Lavanya Ramanathan interviews several people about their experience working in bars while fighting alcoholism and substance abuse, with plenty of firsthand perspective on the challenges and difficulties they faced day-to-day and how they overcame them.
This article by John F. Kelly, published on Harvard’s medical school blog, features comprehensive research about addiction’s affect on the workplace itself, from financial loss to reduced quality of life among employees, as well as the personal impact and how steps can be taken to tackle the opioid crisis in macro.
An organization focused on recovery and the arts that offers referrals and resources to musicians and performers on their website.