The most common explanation of drug addiction is, that if you take too long a certain amount of a drug, you will become an addict. It’s the substance that makes you addicted. This theory is the basis that the US war on drugs is based on.
But it doesn’t explain why so many famous musicians turn to drugs and have to go to rehab again and again. It doen’t explain why too many talented musicians die of an overdose, like most of the musicians in the ‘club of 27’ (a.o. Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse).
Research with mice has shown, that isolated mice in a cage preferred drugged water over clean water. They keep taking the drugged water until the die on an overdose. This is in support of the common explanation mentioned above.
Other research though has shown, that when you put mice on a mouse-friendly playground with other mice, all of the mice preferred clean water over drugged water. No mouse died of an overdose. Experiences of US soldiers in Vietnam confirm this research. 95% of the soldiers that used heroin in Vietnam, just quit when returning to the USA.
This short animation shows you more about how drug addiction works:
In fact, it’s not the substance that makes you an addict, it’s social isolation, boredom and feeling trapped. Many musicians face social isolation when becoming successful and famous. The lack of privacy is an important factor. On the top it’s also very difficult to know whom to trust.
If the music business wants to prevent mental health issues of musicians, it could pay more attention on social skills of musicians. For musicians it’s not only important to know how to network, but also how to make friends. That’s part of the individual online workshop 5 Empowerment Tools for Musicians.