Many Americans are familiar with the phrase “sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll”, and the music industry can seem inextricable from the party lifestyle and substance abuse. So it is no surprise that drug and alcohol addiction has affected some of our favorite musicians. But it is not all suffering; with the help of friends, family, and healthcare professionals, it is possible to beat addiction, however toxic your environment. Here are four musicians that successfully overcame addiction.
1. Lana Del Rey
Lizzie Grant is a successful singer-songwriter who performs under the name Lana Del Rey. Grant is known for her music’s cinematic quality and exploration of glamour and melancholy in eight best-selling studio albums. But Grant’s life was not always full of success and glamour; she talks openly about her struggles with addiction as a teenager.
Grant battled alcohol addiction as a minor - a habit that began as recreational but quickly grew to eclipse other joys in her life. She describes alcoholism as one of the worst things that ever happened to her. This period in her life inspired her to write the critically acclaimed debut album Born to Die.
The artist overcame her addiction with the support of her family, who sent Grant first to a boarding school in Connecticut and then to inpatient rehabilitation facilities. With the help of adult support groups, Grant has now been sober for over a decade.
2. Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton is an English blues and rock musician, talented in vocals, guitar, and songwriting. Clapton is ranked on Rolling Stone’s Top 100 Artists of All Time list - but fame and success also brought its fair share of trouble to the musician’s life. Clapton struggled with heroin addiction in the 1960s. Clapton describes the habit as costing him up to £12,000 ($16,000) a week, a warning sign he ignored by telling himself the terrible lie that it was not a problem since he could afford the addiction.
The Rockstar was able to free himself from his heroin addiction after three years of intense use but did not obtain full sobriety until a stay in an inpatient rehabilitation facility in 1982. There he was able to heal and recover from addiction, finding strength that would enable him to remain sober even through his struggles later in life.
3. Stevie Nicks
Stevie Nicks is a singer-songwriter who rose to fame in the 1970s with her band Fleetwood Mac. She has since enjoyed a four-decade-long solo career. Nicks’ poetic lyrics, distinctive vocals, and mystic stage persona have made her a cult hero, and one of the best-selling music acts in American history.
However, fame and the pressures of the music industry were not always easy for Nicks to cope with. Nicks is open about her struggle with drug addiction, which began with the recreational use of illegal drugs such as cocaine and later progressed to prescription medication such as Klonopin. She describes her struggle with the latter in the 1980s as stealing eight years from the prime of her life, a creative wasteland. Nicks has since been able to overcome her struggle with addiction with the help of various in and outpatient treatment centers and a steely determination.
Marshall Mathers, the stage name Eminem, is one of the United States’ most famous hip-hop artists. Mathers grew up in poverty in Michigan and began rapping at a young age. The multi-talented musician has now also had success as a record producer and actor in his two-decade-long career and has found fame as one of the most controversial celebrities of the 21st century.
Mathers has told the story of his battle with addiction through his music, with albums such as “Recovery” and “Relapse”. He first embarked on his recovery journey after experiencing a near-fatal overdose in 2008. Mathers now wears a ring to mark his sobriety, engraved with the words “unity”, “recovery”, and “service”, and the inspirational phrase familiar to many on the road to recovery - “one day at a time”.
Mathers has been publicly critical of the American governments’ failed war on drugs policy, arguing that it has led to the brutal suppression of working-class people and fails to support people struggling with drug addiction. He has also spoken scathingly about the inaccessibility of treatment facilities for America's poor. For many, Mathers is an inspiration and an advocate in the battle against addiction.