Helping Performers Overcome Addiction

Performing arts is often considered one of the most challenging fields to work in, due to the exhausting labor, dedication, and high stress that comes along with it. Unfortunately, as with most professions, many of these performers are susceptible to the devastating effects of addiction. Addiction to drugs or alcohol can take away their dreams, destroy their reputations, and put an end to their careers. Fortunately, there are ways for performers to overcome addiction and return to their craft with renewed vigor and clarity.

It is important for performers to understand the difference between drug or alcohol use and abuse. When drug or alcohol use leads to physical or psychological harm to oneself or to those around them, it has become abuse. Addiction is often the result of abuse. The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) defines addiction as “a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory, and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social, and spiritual manifestations.” Addiction is a complex disorder and can be incredibly hard to overcome without professional help.

The first step for performers is to recognize that they have a problem. Many times, they may try to hide or deny their addiction from themselves and others in order to protect their reputation and career. However, this only leads to further suffering. It is important for them to seek out professional addiction treatment and make a goal to take steps that will lead to long-term sobriety. They should also pursue therapy with a professional counselor who is trained in addiction.

The next step is to find support. When dealing with addiction, a person needs a strong support system to help them stay on the path of recovery. Family, friends, colleagues, and other professionals can provide different perspectives and insight. Additionally, 12-step programs are available in many communities, and the individual support they provide can be very beneficial.

Once an addiction is under control, performers should look to maintain their sobriety. There are some practical lifestyle modifications that can help prevent relapse. They should avoid settings and individuals that could trigger a relapse, such as parties or places where drugs or alcohol are present. Performing artists should also focus on developing a balanced lifestyle with regular exercise, healthy meals, good sleeping habits, and healthy social interactions.

One of the most important elements in sustaining sobriety is the establishment of a recovery plan. This plan should be tailored to an individual’s particular needs and should focus on the four pillars of addiction recovery: abstinence, counseling, support, and lifestyle changes. Working with professional counselors, this plan should include strategies for dealing with cravings, triggers, and challenging situations.

Finally, performing artists should take advantage of the vast resources available for addiction recovery. Resources such as self-help groups, support programs, and the internet can be invaluable sources of information and support. Additionally, organizations such as Dance/USA can provide assistance in finding therapists and programs. With all these resources and support in place, performers have the opportunity to stay on the path of sobriety and reclaim success in their chosen field.

Addiction can have devastating effects on performing artists. However, they don’t have to face it alone. With professional help, support from family and friends, and access to resources, performers can overcome addiction and return to their art with greater clarity and determination.

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