The Link Between Addiction, Mental Illness, and Fame

The Recent Tragic Death of Young Rapper Juice WRLD is not an Isolated Incident.

“Those who have been eminent in philosophy, poetry, and the arts have all had tendencies towards melancholia.”

– Aristotle

fter his private jet landed in Chicago at 1 am on Sunday, Juice WRLD, born Jarad. A Higgins began to suffer from convulsions. He was immediately taken to hospital and pronounced dead at 3 am, aged only 21. In his place, authorities found 70 pounds of marijuana, six bottles of liquid prescription codeine cough syrup, and numerous firearms. Unfortunately, the untimely death of Juice WRLD is yet another addition to the growing list of tragic drug-related deaths within the music industry. In 2018, the deaths of Mac Miller, 26, Lil Peep, 21, and XXXTentacion, 20, combined with the rise in celebrities speaking publicly about their mental health, opened up a much-needed discourse about the emotional difficulties one can face in the spotlight. However, there is still a long road ahead.

Despite the fact scientists dispute the claim, the idea that addiction and creative genius go hand in hand still pervades our society. From the 27 club to the heroin chic of the 90s or even the roaring 20s, indulgence is often portrayed as synonymous with luxurious and successful lifestyles. However, these rose-tinted glasses fail to grasp the emotional exhaustion and underlying mental illnesses that lead these individuals to such a destructive dependency on drugs or alcohol. For instance, a study (2019) conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) found that “there is a definite connection between mental illness and the use of addictive substances.” In particular, they discovered that individuals who have ever experienced a mental illness consume 69% of all alcohol, 84% of all cocaine, and 68% of all cigarettes. What’s more, while creativity and addiction are not comorbid, research (2007) has shown that highly creative individuals may be more predisposed to mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. Consequently, if left untreated, the individual may develop a dependence on substances as a coping mechanism for their mental health.

Paracelsus Recovery has had a lot of experience treating artists, because we treat only one client at a time and can provide
The Recent Tragic Death of Young Rapper Juice WRLD is not an Isolated Incident.

In combination with a potential genetic disposition, artists live in profoundly stressful environments. The scrutiny that comes with living in the public eye can often be too much to handle. Additionally, celebrities can suffer from loneliness because a lot of their interactions are based upon their public image rather than their private self. What’s more, artists have intense work-schedules and high expectations placed upon them. Spending many months of the year on a tour bus means they can struggle to find stability and routine. If they turn to alcohol or drug abuse to cope with the loneliness and pressures, the team around them might facilitate or cover up their addiction to ensure they can perform. Or worse still, for some artists, their self-destruction might be marketable. This perpetuates the problem and hinders their chances of a robust recovery.

Indeed, what is most tragic about events such as Juice WRLD is the fact it could have been prevented. We must change the persisting narrative that assumes celebrity culture and substance abuse are a package deal. High-profile individuals such as Adele, Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga, Diana Ross, Tina Turner, and many more are paving the way by speaking openly about their mental health struggles. In so doing, they cultivate awareness, break the stigma, and enable others to recognize that mental illness can affect anyone.

References

Biello, D. (2011). Is There a Link Between Creativity and Addiction? Scientific American. Retrieved from: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/is-there-a-link-between-creativity-and-addiction/.

Coscarelli, J. (2019). Before Death, Juice WRLD Flew on Jet Loaded With Drugs, Police Say. The New York Times. Retrieved from: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/09/arts/music/juice-wrld-guns-drugs.html.

Paracelsus Recovery. (2019). About Paracelsus Recovery Luxury Rehab. Retrieved from: https://www.paracelsus-recovery.com/en/about-us/about-paracelsus-recovery/about-us/.

Sussman, A. (2007). Mental Illness and Creativity: A Neurological View of the “Tortured Artist.” Stanford Journal of Neuroscience. 1:1. Retrieved from: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/892c/aa15e19b00cc0e56ae825959ce905d2fed94.pdf.

The National Bureau of Economic Research. (2019). Mental Illness and Substance Abuse. NBER. Massachusetts, USA. Retrieved from: https://www.nber.org/digest/apr02/w8699.html.

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