Music Australia’s book Musicians & Addiction: Research and Recovery Stories is now published and available for purchase as a paperback or eBook. There is a growing international consensus that we are facing a mental health crisis among musicians, and addiction is a critical dimension of this problem. This book provides a unique, multi-faceted overview of the topic, and brings the life and death nature of the challenge vividly to life.
The first section of the book presents a literature review of over 230 published research studies and articles on the topic, demonstrating the extraordinary vulnerability musicians have towards addiction. Contributory factors are explored, such as performance anxiety, the use of drugs with creative intent, the cultural and workplace pressures of the industry, and the industry attracting people who use music as medicine to work through their demons. Section 2 presents 12 excerpts from interviews and autobiographies of well known musicians (including Jimmy Barnes, Paul Kelly, Tash Sultana, James Freud, Eminem and Herbie Hancock), 12 specially commissioned personal recovery stories from musicians working across multiple genres, and a series of professional perspectives. The final section of the book summarises implications and practical advice for individual musicians, organisations and the industry as a whole. The Australian, UK and US music industries are equally represented in the book.
The devastating impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on the music industry, recent tragedies with pharmaceutical drugs in hip hop, the ubiquitous problem of musicians self-medicating performance anxiety with drugs and alcohol, and recent studies in the UK and Australian music industries all show that this issue remains a contemporary problem.