Music Industry Addresses Drug Culture

Awareness is growing within the music industry that recreational drug use can develop into addiction, Reuters reported May 22.

Courtney Love, Whitney Houston, Kelly Osbourne, Jo Dee Messina, and Scott Weiland are just a few of the long list of rock or pop stars that have been in and out of rehab for alcohol and other drug addiction.

“In rock ‘n’ roll, you’re supposed to be outrageous,” said Dr. Lou Cox, a New York-based psychologist who specializes in addictions. “Being bad is good. The culture is not only supportive, it’s as if there is a demand for it — like it’s part of the credibility package.”

While there’s a long list of rock ‘n’ roll icons — such as the Doors’ Jim Morrison, the Who’s Keith Moon, the Sex Pistols’ Sid Vicious, Blind Melon’s Shannon Hoon, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and the Rolling Stones’ Brian Jones — who have died over the last 30 years from drug overdoses, there is also a growing concern among artists, managers and others in the music industry about recreational drug use.

“There is a higher degree of awareness,” said industry veteran and author Walter Yetnikoff. “People know that recreational use can kill you.”

Atlantic Records Chairman/CEO Jason Flom said recreational use can also be detrimental to an artist’s career. “The artists that keep it together are the winners,” he said. “Today, there is a lot more demand for an artist’s time. Artists must perform at the top of their game at all times.”

Drug use has declined in recent years, industry observers say. Part of the reason, said Yetnikoff, is that more artists are going public with their sobriety, improved communication about the dangers of addiction, and more rehab facilities offering a greater range of services.

Within the music industry there are also support groups, such as MusiCares, the Musicians’ Assistance Program, and Road Recovery.

“It’s now considered hip for artists to take care of themselves,” said Liz Rosenberg, senior vice president at Warner Bros. “In previous years, drugs were more like a status symbol. Now, a healthy lifestyle is cooler than it used to be.”