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recent survey of more than 1100 personnel administrators concluded that drug and alcohol abuse are more likely to cost a person their job than incompetence. Drug abuse has affected every area of society; the music business is no exception.

Some believe that drug addiction is more pervasive in show business, while others counter that this perception exists only because of the high-profile nature of the industry. The fact that drug addiction crops up everywhere suggests that it is an illness particular to human nature, not a specific industry.

There is little solace in this however, when a musician you know becomes difficult to get along with, unreliable or untrustworthy, incapable of performing, or even violent due to their worsening drug or alcohol problem. It would be wonderful if we lived in a world free of drugs and drug addiction, but until that day arrives musicians may find themselves inadvertently working with others who have become victims of this very serious illness. What follows is some helpful perspective and advice for those who are struggling with this situation, or those who simply wish to know more about it.

There are a myriad of attitudes concerning drug addiction, and drug addicts. (From here on we will refer to persons addicted to drugs and/or alcohol as one group: drug addicts.) Unfortunately, there are still those who believe this condition to be the result of poor judgement, or perhaps a flawed character. The consensus among modern health care professionals, including the American Medical Association (AMA), is that drug addiction is a disease. Theories concerning its origins embody the classic “nature vs. nurture” arguments: Does one become an addict because of genetics, environment and upbringing, or a combination thereof? It may be safely concluded that the origins of drug addiction are many, and complex.

Cultivating an awareness of this issue begins with the realization that drug addicts are not necessarily bad people, but rather victims of their illness. Some people have what is known as an addictive personality – a predisposition to become dependent on a certain lifestyle, or substance. Examples are compulsive eaters or gamblers, those who accumulate excessive debt, and drug addicts, who become addicted to substances. For the drug addict, a simple “just say no” is insufficient. The nature of their illness is such that they have not naturally developed the kind of rational self-control that allows most people to remain free of addiction. Addicts become mired in their habit without realizing that a problem is developing, and they practice denial in order to maintain their increasingly fragile world.

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