Walk down the street and ask any random person to describe his or her perceptions of an alcoholic or drug addict, and you are not likely to hear a description fitting a member of the local symphony orchestra. We just do not think of professional classical musicians as being addicted to drugs and alcohol. Yet it turns out they are in ever increasing numbers.
The problem of addiction within the classical music scene was recently brought to light by a Channel 4 documentary featuring well-known cellist Rachael Lander. At one time, Lander was addicted to both alcohol and prescription medications that she originally started taking to control panic attacks. She told The Guardian that addiction is fairly widespread within the classical music community.
Performance anxiety is among the top reasons that musicians begin taking drugs or drinking. Make no mistake about it; there is stiff competition for orchestra jobs among the best musicians in the world. A failure to perform up to par could mean quick replacement at the drop of the conductor’s hand. A musician could easily go from playing in a prestigious symphony orchestra to being forgotten in an unknown local orchestra.
Lander sites other reasons for the drink and drug problem, including the odd hours kept by classical musicians and the inability to come down from the ‘high’ of an exceptional performance. She says both factors contribute to an atmosphere of social drinking that has become an integral part of being a professional classical musician. In simple terms, musicians get together to drink after almost every performance.
Lessons to Be Learned
There are many lessons to be learned by paying attention to what Lander has to say. First and foremost is the reality that alcoholism and drug addiction does not discriminate in any way, shape, or form. It is not only homeless men on London streets that have a problem with drink and drugs. Well-paid and well-established professionals, such as classical musicians, can also fall victim to the power of substance abuse.
Furthermore, it can be difficult to identify substance abuse if you do not know what you’re looking for. For instance, how many classical music fans enjoy concerts in which Lander participated, without ever knowing she was self-medicating with prescription drugs to control anxiety? Sometimes you just cannot tell as a casual observer.
A third lesson is one of exposing the truth about drink and drug problems so that these can be dealt with. The classical music community has been able to hide its problem in the dark closet of ignorance for so many years. Now that it is out in the open, it has been forced to deal with the issue in order to continue maintaining a good public image.
Get Some Help
Rachael Lander walked away from her chosen profession in order to get treatment for her addiction problems. At one point, she worked as both a waitress and a car park attendant in order to pay her bills. However, achieving sobriety opened the door to the one thing she was truly passionate about: making beautiful music. She is once again working as a professional musician, to the joy of those who love to hear her play.
You can follow in Rachael’s footsteps if you are struggling with alcohol or drugs. You do not have to continue living as a prisoner to the substances that now control you. Addiction Helper can assist you by offering you sound advice and referrals to various treatment providers. If you are ready to take your life back, please call our 24-hour addiction recovery helpline right away. We want to see you permanently overcome your addiction.