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Musicians Are Facing Addiction Challenges During COVID-19

Obviously, the COVID-19 health pandemic has affected everyone. But there are certain segments of population who appear to be more impacted than others. Those who work in the restaurant industry, for example, have been hit especially hard. Professional musicians are also struggling and could be turning to substances as a way to cope.


Our local outlet, The Los Angeles Times, published a recent story touching on this growing trend. Highlighting several artists who write, tour and produce music, it called out a rise in drug addictions and alcoholism via personal stories. The loss of income from concert revenues and distance from fans and loved ones appear to be contributing factors.


One artist called out was country singer Cady Groves. She had some early success over the past decade, even getting Blake Shelton to appear in one of her videos. But once the pandemic hit, her life took a tragic turn. Cady’s income came to a screeching halt and she spent all of her time alone in her Nashville home. Eventually, the pain became too great and she lost her life to an ethanol overdose.


Another music artist, Geoff Rickly, has openly struggled with addiction temptations over the past eight months. He fronts the rock band Thursday and previously battled his own heroin dependency during the 2010’s. Now he hosts a recovery podcast and offers his support for fellow musicians going through tough times during COVID-19.


“The obstacle of COVID-19 is all this unstructured time,” Rickly told The Times. “This much isolation can be really tough for most musicians. I have friends who were very productive at the beginning of lockdown, but now they’re wondering why they should keep being productive. Clubs are closed, there’s no Spotify money and these ripple effects are showing. There’s a lot of fear.”


Depression is certainly another key factor musicians are dealing with at the moment. There are those who were close to a big break before the pandemic and those who are watching their prime window of opportunity slip away amid concert cancellations. It’s not that hard to imagine someone’s mind spiraling downward as their “musical shot” may be passing them by. And that, not surprisingly, is when drugs and alcohol enter the picture, serving as an outlet to escape the pain.


Noted Los Angeles sobriety advocate and therapist Jodi Milstein also spoke to The Times about this trend, accurately summarizing the mental state many professional musicians are in.


“Sobriety has definitely been more challenging,” Milstein said. “Stress, financial worries, relationship troubles: There are so many different stressors with COVID-19. The whole live music industry has been at a halt for eight months, and some artists are concerned that their window for success won’t stay open.”