Substances Abuse Among Artists


Sofia Cannon, Arts and Entertainment Editor

“He was just so quick and just so clever and it just made my day. And all in all that’s the type of person he was – just a good dude. Always made you feel good, just a great energy to have around” -Kendrick Lamar said about Mac Miller (1992-2018)
Substance abuse among artists seems to be a common-occuring theme. It’s a disorder, and it can be traced back to be affecting artists all the way from the 1920s. It’s still a major problem now to the point where over 300 artists have died in the past four decades. From Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse, Heath Ledger, Cory Monteith, Prince, and in more recent events, Mac Miller. Is it due to the accessibility? Do illicit drugs promote creativity? Is it a way to escape the world that is physically and emotionally demanding? The truth is that all of these factors can come into play.
The correlation between artists and using drugs to have an increase in their artistic performance is a major one discussed. Dr. Mark Griffiths, a Distinguished Professor of Behavioral Addiction and Director of the International Gaming Research Unit in the Psychology Department at Nottingham Trent University (UK), found research saying that instead of the theory that drugs make an artist more creative, drugs seem to be enhancing artists’ life experiences. He said that, “ The frequently discussed view that the use of psychoactive substances leads to enhanced creativity was by no means confirmed”. Either artists feel like drugs increases their creativity or there is another reason behind their abuse. The drug itself has no direct connection to enhance creativity.
There is no doubt that the pressure an artist can feel is massive. Performing in front of large audiences, and just the overall lifestyle can be intensely overwhelming. So much so, that resorting to drugs may seem like an escape from reality for many artists. Artists may abuse illicit drugs to boost confidence, cope with anxiety, or reduce stress. Psychotherapist, John Tsilimparis, wrote eloquently that substance abuse can affect anyone, “but throw in fame, stardom, wealth, the pressure to perform, the high expectations, and most importantly the public scrutiny that goes along with it, and you can have a lethal combination, a perfect storm that can lead anyone down a treacherous path of destruction and sometimes death”. The combination of their overwhelming lifestyles and their accessibility to the lethal substances seem to be the biggest reasons artists resort to drugs.
Mac Miller died on September 7th at his home in Los Angeles due to an overdose. He was 26, and his death strongly impacted not only his fans, but everyone part of the music community. A Mac Miller benefit concert will be held in Los Angeles on October 31st, and it’s beautiful to see other varying artists come together in what is being called “A Celebration of Life.” From rappers like Chance The Rapper, Travis Scott, and SZA to more mellow artists like John Mayer. This unity and bringing awareness are much needed. Linked below are a few songs included with the purpose of celebrating Mac Miller’s life, Artists life, and life in general.