Addiction is a brain disease that does not discriminate. People of all ages, ethnicities, sexual orientations and socioeconomic backgrounds can develop a severe substance use disorder. For decades, we’ve heard stories about otherwise successful musicians grappling with the realities of drug or alcohol addiction.
However, regular or excessive drug or alcohol use can lead to addiction, which can negatively affect many facets of a musician’s life. Addiction can compromise physical and mental health, relationships and financial stability. For example, Billie Holiday’s addiction to heroin and alcohol derailed her successful career and led her untimely death.
Many high-profile recording artists battling a substance use disorder may experience an overdose, which occurs when a person takes more than the recommended amount of a drug. If left untreated, an overdose can result in death.
Musicians of all genres battle addiction. While some famous musicians have passed away from their drug or alcohol addiction, many others have learned to manage their disorder through rehab and went on to live healthy, fulfilling lives.
For years, Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler dealt with cocaine addiction. In a 2013 interview with Australia’s “60 Minutes,” the “Dream On” singer said that he had snorted at least $5 million to $6 million worth of cocaine in the past.
Tyler said that he turned to drugs to deal with the rigors of touring, but continuous cocaine use eventually led to health and relationship problems. He would go on to develop a substance use disorder, which nearly cost him his life.
“It’s serious when you lose your kids, your children, your wife, your band, your job,” Tyler said on The Dr. Oz Show in 2013. “And you’ll never understand why because you’re an addict. You can’t figure that out.”
Tyler found sobriety upon receiving treatment in 2010. Since then, attending 12-step meetings has helped him stay sober. After learning to become sober, he served as a judge on the popular TV show “American Idol.” In 2018, he embarked on a solo tour across the U.S.
During adolescence, singer Pink struggled with drug use. From ages 12 to 15, she used club drugs, such as MDMA, and sold crystal meth. When she was 15, she nearly overdosed after using LSD, crystal meth and ecstasy.
“It wasn’t to the point of going to the hospital, but I remember getting up off the floor in the morning, and that was the last time I ever touched a drug again,” Pink told Shape magazine in a recent interview.
Pink has since forged a successful music career that has included multiple platinum albums, radio hits and Grammy awards. She has also collaborated with Eminem, who also struggled with drug use, on multiple songs. Their 2017 song “Need Me” is about two people in a codependent relationship.
Eminem has achieved immense success in his career. He has released a bevy of Billboard number one albums and hits, toured around the world and appeared in the critically acclaimed movie “8 Mile.” He also won an Academy Award and numerous Grammys.
However, Eminem’s success hasn’t been without challenges — including an addiction to prescription painkillers. From 2002 to 2008, Eminem was addicted to a drug cocktail of Valium, Ambien and extra-strength Vicodin.
After entering rehab in 2005, he experienced a setback in his recovery the following year. In 2007, he overdosed on the opioid agonist methadone. Although methadone relieves drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms, the medication is also addictive.
“I was taking so many pills that I wasn’t even taking them to get high anymore,” he told Rolling Stone magazine in 2011. “I was taking them to feel normal.”
With the help of a rehab counselor, Eminem entered recovery in 2009. Since then, the “Lose Yourself” rapper has taken up running on the treadmill. Physical activity is often a healthy outlet for many people in recovery.
In December 1987, rock musician Nikki Sixx overdosed on heroin. He was clinically dead for two minutes before being revived by paramedics. The Mötley Crüe bassist had been addicted to the opioid for years early in his career.
“I remember very little about that night, but I know someone called an ambulance and saved my life,” Sixx wrote in an opinion piece for the LA Times.
Heroin wasn’t Sixx’s only drug of choice. On Christmas Day 1986, he experienced psychosis and extreme paranoia after snorting cocaine. In an interview with The Guardian, Sixx said that severe drug addiction caused a hangover for “pretty much 15 years.”
In 2001, he entered recovery. In 2007, he wrote about his struggled with addiction in his book, “The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star.” The memoir went on to become a New York Times bestseller and has helped inspire others to seek assistance for their substance use disorder.
Macklemore burst onto the music scene when he and Ryan Lewis released the album “The Heist” in October of 2012. Many of his songs have been downloaded millions of times and reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
However, mainstream success couldn’t tame Macklemore’s substance use. He had battled drug and alcohol use since he was 14 years old. This lifestyle caused him to struggle academically, his relationship with his parents deteriorated, and he eventually became addicted to opioids.
In the summer of 2008, Macklemore entered a 35-day rehab program. During treatment, he maintained a regular schedule, attended 12-step meetings and learned how to manage his addiction. He later said that entering rehab was the best decision he has ever made, although he acknowledges that his recovery is ongoing. In fact, he continues to regularly attend support group meetings, such as Alcoholics Anonymous.
“I will continue to struggle with addiction in some facet for the rest of my life,” he told KEXP in 2018. “It’s something that for me, requires daily maintenance and the recovery community to really beat one day at a time.”
The Importance of Rehab
Many musicians who have dealt with addiction say that rehab assisted them with achieving a sober lifestyle. The Recovery Village offers evidence-based treatment for people struggling with a substance use disorder. The facility employs trained addiction experts who cater treatment plans to an individual’s specific needs.
Help is available. Call The Recovery Village and speak with a representative about your treatment options. Each call is toll-free and confidential. Make the call and begin your journey to recovery, today.
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.