Ah music, the great relator, the universally spoken language. Music has been probably the most beautiful thing, in my own opinion, to come from all of humanity. However, over the last… say, five decades, the evolution of music has branched off into some pretty wild genres, and some major glorification of drug abuse.
Warning: As I am writing this article I feel like I should inform the readers, that I hate radio rap. Read on if you dare.
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The generations of music from the century that came before us were filled with brilliant artists such as Billie Holiday, Louie Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, Etta James. Then we move forward a little bit into Bob Marley, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, and Led Zeppelin. As the years pressed on, and drug use became more of a widely discussed and popularized social activity, the music started to match it.
The 80’s brought us… disco, new wave, metal, and hip-hop (RIP to the greats) and today, we have… well, we have what we have. We all know what it is. The conspiracy theorist in me is rooted in the idea that the music of today is just a mind control device, convincing the youth that drug use is something we MUST do to be cool so that we ignore the signs of our planet slowly dying as we inch closer to being the people from Wall-E.
Before I continue down that rabbit hole (I could go on for days), let’s take some examples from hit songs from the last few decades as we start to discuss, Does Music Glorify Drug Abuse?
Purple Pills – D12:
We’ll start it off with an obvious one, this was before Eminem got sober, but the song was super catchy, and the video made drug use look even more fun.
“I take a couple uppers, I down a couple downers
But nothing compares to these blue and yellow purple pills
I’ve been to mushroom mountain, once or twice but who’s countin’
But nothin’ compares to these blue and yellow purple pills”
Can’t Feel My Face – The Weekend:
Really anything by the weekend, he is very vocal about his issues with drug use. Despite the uptempo sound if it, the song is about drug addiction, most likely to cocaine.
“And I know she’ll be the death of me, at least we’ll both be numb
And she’ll always get the best of me, the worst is yet to come
All the misery was necessary when we’re deep in love”
Semi-Charmed Life – Third Eye Blind:
Again, despite the up-tempo beat and the fun to sing along with doo-doo-doo’s in the chorus, this song is actually about a crystal meth addiction, I had no idea what I was singing to when I was a kid and this was the number 1 song on the radio!
“I was taking sips of it through my nose…
Doing Crystal Meth will lift you up til you break…
It won’t stop, I won’t come down.
I keep stock with a tick-tock rhythm, a bump for the drop
And then I bumped up, I took the hit that I was given,
And I bumped again, and then I bumped again.”
White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane:
Such a classic, and in my early teenage drug use years, this was my anthem. Sure, it sounds like an innocent re-telling of the Alice in Wonderland book, which, let’s be honest, was definitely trippy in itself, this song was all about taking hallucinogens.
“One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you, don’t do anything at all…
And you’ve just had some kind of mushroom,
And your mind is moving slow,
Go ask alice, I think she’ll know…
Feed your head, feed your head.”
Okay, so it is pretty obvious that the music moves with the times, and the times have been glorifying drug use. The sixties and seventies were hallucinogens, the 80’s and 90’s were cocaine, heroin, and meth, and the 2000’s are about the party drugs, molly, Xanax, lean, and any or all of the combinations thereof.
So, the debate here is not whether music glorifies drug abuse, but more, what should those of us in recovery do about it? I currently work in a treatment center for young women, and as a rule, they are not allowed to listen to radio hip-hop channels in the van or on campus. That to me, is pretty understandable, right? But then, as we are listening to the country channel, I start to notice that every single song is about sexual promiscuity and drinking beer and whiskey. So we switch to the pop channel, the top 40 tracks. Wouldn’t ya know it, they are all about drinking, having sex, and partying at clubs.
Now listen, I’m not a puritan. I used to party like the rest of them. But when I stopped to think about it, in my early sobriety, there were definitely certain songs or whole albums that I had a hard time listening to because they were honestly pretty triggering for me. There was a whole Kendrick Lamar album (section 80) that I had to avoid like the plague because it still sounded like I was listening to it after a bell ringer (for those who know, you know).
The Music Never Stops
If you are one of those people that can still listen to anything and it doesn’t bother you, props. However, there are some of us who get sucked back into the memories of old times from certain songs, and that can honestly lead to glorifying drug abuse pretty quickly in our heads.
- Think about this new sobriety as a cool time where you get to explore lots of new music! Remember back in the day when we would sit on Limewire or Kazaa for hours and download new music? Do that again, find stuff that sings to your soul, without making you feel like you are back in the bar or stuck on your friend’s couch in their parent’s basement.
- Try to avoid the stuff that you know triggers you. If you listen to pre-sober Gucci Mane and find that you are fittin to turn up, change the damn song. Put on some… early backstreet boys or some of the emo music from your angsty pre-teen days, maybe?
- You know what, just avoid the radio. It’s mostly crap anyways, dig out some new underground stuff that hasn’t blown up yet. Stuff that makes you wanna groove.
Eventually, you are going to be able to listen to anything you want, and I’m not saying to hide from things that make you feel uncomfortable, but in the case of music, it is one of those things that will always bring back memories and make us feel reminiscent. If you find that those memories turn into glorifying drug abuse, it might be a good idea to change the song, is all I’m really trying to get at here.
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