With the recent tragic passing of Mac Miller, the conversation of drugs in the music industry has continued. The famed hip-hop artist died of an apparent overdose earlier this month. His death came as a shock to everyone including friends, fans and other musicians. Miller is just one of many stars who have died from overdose. Too often this tragedy occurs, drug addiction is discussed, pitied, called on to change, and yet, unfortunately we are sure to see another young star perish at the hand of addiction.
Stars post tributes about their friends needing to reach out for help, fans mourn, and the industry rails in the wake of deaths such as these, but the industry still continues to produce content which romanticizes the very substances which have wrecked the lives of those contributing to it.
Drugs are the center of so many songs, praised for creating a good time, making you feel better, making you forget bad memories, and so on. The songs are bought and sung, win awards, become platinum, then gold, and yet when a star dies from the very thing they are singing about, it comes as a shock.
It shouldn’t be a shock. Drug addiction is a problem, created most of the time by the bigger problem of mental health. According to the Jounral of the American Medical Association, about 50 percent of people with a severe mentall illness also struggle with substance abuse.
Musicians, like everyday people, are emotional, sensitive and aware. However, with a life in the public eye, these feelings are often pushed aside and more attention is placed on pleasing the world watching them. Musicians are pressured to produce better content, sell bigger shows, keep up with strenuous tour schedules, and keep a pretty face.
A study by Help Musicians UK, an organization that has worked for almost 100 years to “offer practical, positive support to emerging, professional and retired musicians – whatever the genre”, found that in an interview of 2,000 musicians, 71 percent experience anxiety and 68.5 percent deal with depression.
With a lack of professional help being sought, or taken, those with a mental illness often cope with drug addiction. Substance abuse in the music industry is almost encouraged. Seen by many as just part of the lifestyle, it has far too many times ended in death. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, deaths caused by overdose are up nearly seven percent since 2016, and in 2017 alone, more than 72,000 Americans died from overdose.
Self-care is important; knowing the limits of your body and your mind and being aware of your own needs ensures your health and sanity. However, for artists living their lives under a microscope, those things are often overlooked. From Instagram to Twitter, tabloids and gossip columns, every single aspect of a star’s life is discussed and scrutinized.
The music industry as a whole does not recognize the emotional toll its work takes on musicians. Health insurance isn’t even covered through several big-label contracts, making the financial toll, and stigma, greater. Sure, more famous musicians are financially secure and can afford the help needed, but it’s the principal of the matter. If the very industry which grows and pushes your career from the beginning rejects any responsibility in the maintenance of your physical and mental health, what does that say about your worth in its eyes?
Mac Miller’s death is something many will never forget. His legacy will live on through his music, but so will his struggle. Mental illness in the music industry exists, and it is often hidden behind the “lifestyle” of substance abuse which, more often than not, takes artists’ lives. The romanticization of drugs has got to stop. It’s an addiction which ends precious young lives too soon and could be combatted if the root of the problem, mental illness, was addressed and treated more adequately.
The Carrier’s editorial opinion represents the views of the senior members of the Campus Carrier and Viking Fusion news staff.