Does Music Increase Substance Use?

Music = sustance abuse

I work at a facility that encourages our clients to listen to music as a coping skill.  We even have a group called Music Therapy where they listen to songs that inspire them to journal.  However, is the music that my clients listen to productive or detrimental to their well-being?

Now a days, when I turn on the radio to whatever station (pop, rap, country, you name it) within my 40 minute drive to work, I hear at least ONE song referring to substance use.  The latest (and most horrific in my opinion) song that I’ve heard is “Coco” by O.T. Genasis.  At first I thought the singer was saying “I’m in love with the Po-po”, which made no sense to me at all.  I truly did not understand what this singer was saying really until the song reached the refrain.  Here is the refrain:

Bakin’ soda, I got bakin’ soda

Bakin’ soda, I got bakin’ soda

Whip it through the glass (bleep)

I’m blowin’ money fast (bleep)

I censored the refrain for professional reasons, but listening to the refrain disturbed me.  He’s not in love with the police…. he’s in love with cocaine.  How does a client like mine, who may be recovering from an addiction, benefit from this song?  NADA!  If anything, I see this song may encourage relapse.

This is not the first and most likely will not be the last controversial song on the radio.  Back in April of last year, Tove Lo produced a song “Habits (Stay High)”.  That song stayed in the Top 100 US Singles for 32 weeks!  What did this song speak of?  Of course using marijuana and promoted promiscuity to numb feelings.  Yes our life experiences can be painful.  Yes we can turn to drugs or alcohol to bandage the hurt.  But, do we truly want the radio to promote this lifestyle?

I think back to when I was a teenager trying to discover my identity and ways to keep my sanity with crazy hormones.  Of course, there were songs related to my teenage years referring to drugs, like “Because I Got High” by Afroman.  But, I never paid attention to song lyrics, just the melody.  So what’s the difference between the 2000’s and now?  The lyrics are becoming more explicit, straight-forward and peer pressuring than ever.  Some of them have a catchy melody, but if you truly listen to the lyrics are you enjoying the message?

As a non-parent, I’m concerned for those that do have future generations growing up listening to these lyrics.  I challenge you to ask your children or teenagers what they perceive from these lyrics.  Their answer might worry some of you.  Take action and talk to your children or teenagers about the music they are listening to.  Keeping open communication with your children will promote a bond of trust.  With trust, your children may be less susceptible to substance use.  Let’s return our society back to healing.

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