“I was going to die. There’s a cliche that goes ‘Alcoholism is a cowards suicide’ and that pretty much summed me up.” Neal Hunt [Artist Manager]
Experiencing issues related to alcohol and drug use is common in the music industry, where drugs and booze are a reliable feature at most venues, concerts and parties. In our mental health survey, around 5% of music workers reported having been diagnosed with a substance use condition in the past. Almost three quarters of respondents said they had used drugs or alcohol to help with recent life stresses.
People drink alcohol and use drugs for a range of reasons, from wanting to numb out, heighten senses, stay awake, fall asleep, have fun, appear social or adhere to peer pressure. All kinds of alcohol and drugs, including legally prescribed medications, have some biological impact on your brain chemistry and can influence behaviour – although the effects and risks of each substance will be different from person to person.
In the absence of support, resilience or healthy coping strategies, misuse of alcohol and drugs is way too common, and can have harmful, even permanent, consequences for your mental and physical health and wellbeing.
SUBSTANCE USE is a real issue in music.
According to our survey findings, almost three quarters of music workers said they had used drugs or alcohol to help with recent life stresses. About one quarter of music workers said their use of drugs & alcohol impacts their work and daily functioning.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS (WHEN BOOZE & DRUGS ARE BECOMING AN ISSUE)
One way to understand whether drinking or drug use is becoming an issue is by identifying if it is having a harmful effect on your life and the lives of those around you. It can sometimes be hard to notice the harmful effects, especially if the changes have been slow and gradual, and you’ve found ways to adjust or ignore the effects. The list below might help in identifying ways that alcohol and drug use is impacting your life in harmful ways. Make a note of how often you have experienced any of the following as a result of alcohol or drug use:
- Unable to attend work, be productive or perform effectively
- Missed important events or activities
- Feel uncomfortable, insecure or ashamed around people
- Partners, friends or family have expressed concerns
- Intentional self-harm or risk taking behaviour (driving under the influence, etc.)
- Felt the need to hide or lie about the frequency of your substance use
- Coming down from periods of substance use with intense guilt, shame and regret for your own actions and behaviour
- You felt unsafe or were harmed by someone
- Experiencing lots of conflict or strained relationships
- Financial stress due to the cost of substance use
- Unable to concentrate or remember things
- You harmed someone else, caused property damage or engaged in illegal activity
- Physical injury or health issues
- Unable to function day-to-day e.g. sleeping or eating
SAHARA HERALD [TOUR DIRECTOR] SHARES HER EXPERIENCE WITH DRUG & ALCOHOL USE
GETTING A HANDLE ON YOUR ALCOHOL & DRUG USE
Alcohol and drug-use can negatively impact your life, work and relationships. It can also mess with your physical health. It’s really worth learning more about it and getting help if you think your use of alcohol and drugs is becoming a problem.
READ MORE ABOUT SUBSTANCE USE AND HOW TO MANAGE IT
HOW TO TAKE ACTION
If you are concerned about the impact that drug and alcohol use is having on your life, there are a range of resources below to help you identify strategies for making some positive changes.
- Ask for help and recognise when substance use is becoming an issue. Open up and talk about it. Whilst it can be uncomfortable to have convos about substance use, it is often the first step to facing it, and getting help.
- Books and podcasts can be great to learn more about how other people have overcome addiction and problematic substance use. These stories might help inspire or motivate you to get on top of your drinking/drug-use.
- Ask for help and support as soon as you notice yourself struggling. Reach out to family and friends, or give us a call on the Wellbeing Helpline ~ a helpline dedicated to to supporting folks working in the Aussie music industry. It’s free, confidential and available 24/7.
- See (or encourage someone to see) a GP to discuss the impact drink and drugs might be having on your life and explore support options. (Aussie residents are also eligible for the Mental Health Care Plan, which can save you a good chunk of money off sessions with a registered psychologist).
- Find a mental health practitioner that’s right for you (ask around, get on Google, or ask your GP for recommendations)
- Check out these free resources:
Remember: If you, or someone you care about, is in crisis or at immediate risk, dial 000 now.
HELPFUL APPS TO HELP YOU TRACK & MANAGE SUBSTANCE USE
ARTICLES about drug and alcohol use
CHECK OUT THESE VIDS ON EXPERIENCING & MANAGING SUBSTANCE USE
Amber Rules, Psychotherapist and Director of Sydney Addictions Recovery
Sahara Herald, Tour Director of Frontier Touring
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