Life as a professional stage performer is a grueling one. A professional stage performer may be a dancer, an actor, a magician, a musician, a singer or any other kind of performance artist. The performing arts are known for being highly competitive and difficult to make a living at, which is part of the reason that performing artists are known for their struggles with addiction. The performance arts are a professional field that carry a higher rate of addiction problems than most other fields. In theory, this is because of the natural sensitivity and experimental nature of artists, the professional pressures that performing artists face and the emotional strain that the industry and the artistic process put on a performer.
All artists are experimental and sensitive due to their creative, artistic nature. These characteristics are necessary to the artistic process. However, they also create mental complications for many performing artists. Their experimental nature may lure them into using an addictive substance or perpetrating an addictive behavior, and their sensitive nature may cause them to alter their identity around it and become psychologically dependent on it. This can be a dangerous combination that leads to a gripping and long-lasting addiction.
Professional stage performing is a highly underrated profession. The competition is brutal and the expectations are unending. Many professional stage performers find their industry extremely stressful because it does not offer reliable work and the wages can be completely unregulated. This stress often amounts to experimenting with addictive behaviors and substances as a way of escaping, and an addiction begins.
The demands of stage performance are incredibly intense. Performers put their bodies, talents, vocal chords, emotions and more through the ringer to deliver a worthwhile performance to an audience. These are skills that most other professionals cannot understand. Performers are very emotionally and soulfully connected to their work, and the rise and fall of emotional victories and defeats can leave a performer yearning for escape into addiction. If you or someone in your life is a performing artist who struggles with addiction, do not hesitate to seek help as quickly as possible.
Professional performance artists live a lifestyle that few people can comprehend. For a living, performance artists get on a stage in front of an audience and dance, act, sing or do a number of other performative talents for the audience’s entertainment, amusement and enlightenment. Preparation for these performances includes grueling rehearsals and many hours spent at practice and memorization. The work is hard, the wages are often sporadic and inconsistent and the performance schedule often involves travel. This is why the number of performing artists who are thriving is considerably low. Performance artists lead very challenging lives, with hardships that include mental disorders, stage fright and rootlessness.
Mental disorders that affect performance artists may include depression, anxiety, addiction and more. Artists in general are more prone to mental disorders than people in other vocations because their craft requires sensitivity, empathy and emotional depth. The performing arts are one of the most high intensity art forms because they are live, so they frequently make performance artists high strung and susceptible to breakdowns, which are symptoms of an anxiety disorder. It is strange to think of a performance artist with stage fright, but it is a very common form of anxiety that performance artists deal with. Many performance artists also resort to addiction in an attempt to self medicate, and make themselves much worse off. All of these things and more can cause debilitating depression.
The rootlessness of a profession in the performing arts can have negative effects on a performer’s mental and physical health as well. A number of live shows travel around specific regional areas and the performers that tour with it may not see their homes for weeks or even months. Many performers work for a local venue and have the luxury of staying in one place, but many become absorbed by life on the road. This can lead to disorders and addiction as well because it leaves a person separated from their support system, routines and familiar surroundings.
Addiction is alive and well among performance artists because of the kind of lifestyle they lead. This is not to say that every performance artists is an addict, or that there are not many performance artists who have recovered from addiction, but performance artists are statistically more prone to being addicts than other professionals. There are a number of reasons for this which center around the psychological make up of performance artists and the professional demands on them. These hardships lead to addictions such as alcoholism, drug addiction and sex addiction.
Alcoholism is one of the most common addictions found among performance artists. Alcoholism is universally something people lean on as a coping mechanism. There is nothing wrong with having an occasional beer at the end of the day, but when it becomes a crutch or a necessity, there is a problem. Performance artists frequently suffer from disorders such as anxiety and depression, and alcohol is often the medication of choice to soothe disorder symptoms.
Drug addictions are also commonly found among performance artists. Some drug addictions begin for the same reasons that alcoholism begins: the individual is trying to lower stress and anxiety symptoms, or erase their depression symptoms by chemically altering their minds. Another reason drug addiction begins is because performance artists are also experimental and adventurous by nature. They want to see the world from different perspectives so that it can inform their craft. Unfortunately, sometimes this leads to a habit they are unable to break, and it takes over their lives in the form of addiction.
Sex addiction is also too frequently a curse of performance artists, more than likely because it is a very visceral and performative type of escape, which suits a person whose profession is also visceral and performative. Sex addiction can be caused by underlying coping issues or past traumas that take shape in the form of an insatiable libido. It can also be caused by a singular or reoccurring sexual encounter that took place when the person was young.
Performance artists face a number of challenges that other working professionals have never been exposed to. The performing arts require the sensitivity it takes to envision and execute a quality performance, yet they also require the thick skin it takes to endure unkind audiences, grueling rehearsal schedules and a traveling lifestyle. Many performance artists cannot handle the pressures of life on stage and succumb to addiction while trying and failing to cope in a healthy way. Mental health professionals are aware that life as a performing artists is particularly hard on a person’s mental health. Because of this, there are addiction treatment programs designed specifically for performance artists.
In an inpatient rehabilitation center that offers programs specifically for performance artists, the first step of treatment will be a complete detoxification for those who have been abusing a substance. A person needs their bodily chemistry to be balanced and healthy in order to face the challenges of addiction treatment. Detoxes are medically supervised to prevent clients from entering into dangerous withdrawal symptoms without medical support.
The psychological treatment that takes place in an inpatient rehab that is tailored to the performance artist’s mentality will cover matters like performance anxiety, stage fright, identity crisis’ and travel lifestyles. It is not uncommon for the counselors and facilitators to have past experience on the stage and know from experience what kind of hardships a performance artist faces. The treatment material in residential rehab will consist of exercises, readings and workbooks, along with individual and group counseling. Therapeutic activities are also offered, such as yoga and nature walks, and diet and exercise is part of the regimen as well.
When the residential period is over, clients will be out in the world again but not alone, as support services continue even once the program is over. Clients will have access to the counselors they worked with during treatment and will be plugged into a network of support groups, meetings, sponsors and other addiction treatment services. If you or someone you know is a performance artist struggling with addiction, drug and alcoholism rehab centers could be the answer to the problem.