man holding electric guitar

This may come as a shock to you, but music can be used to fuel drug addiction. 

Although this is not a new concept, it is one that has been studied for many years. In this blog post, we will discuss how your favorite songs fuel your urge to consume drugs.

Link Between Drugs and Music

Music is a way to express your feelings and emotions. It can also be a vehicle to cope with trauma, find solace in dark times, find meaning in life, or even peace. As such, it’s no surprise that many of us associate certain songs with our urge to consume drugs.

Beyond glamorizing the lifestyles of the rich and famous, music has mentioned drug use throughout history. It’s’ not even always glamourizing it, but just being mentioned can have an incredible influence on your ability to say no. 

It’s’ not all bad between music and drugs. Some music has pain-relieving power. It’s’ all in the interpretation and your self-confidence on whether that music will negatively influence you. 

Teenagers are the most at risk

Your favorite songs fuel your urge to consume drugs, and adolescents are the most at risk. 

How is this possible? Think of it this way: if a teenager is listening to music that mentions marijuana, their more likely to use it to emulate their favorite artists. And if they’re listening to their favorite tracks, that means those songs are more likely to trigger an urge to indulge in illicit or harmful substances.

Teenagers are looking for ways to cope with the world around them. If the music they’re listening to not only mentions marijuana but in a context where it’s being used during stressful times, your teen is more likely to use it for the same reasons. 

Electronic Dance Music and MDMA

Electronic Dance Music (EDM) and MDMA are no strangers. The rise of electronic dance music in the late 90s was reflected by its increase in popularity, which also correlates with a surge in the use of MDMA. 

While both EDM and MDMA have their own distinct origin stories, it’s clear that they are linked together by their shared relationship with each other.

Ecstasy and Molly are enjoyed mostly due to their euphoric and stress-reducing effects. Because of this, they’re popular at raves that play EDM because of the upbeat, heavy bass music contributing to the high. 

Festivals

Music festivals are an essential part of the drug culture. Unfortunately, this is because many festival attendees are there for drugs and alcohol rather than good music. A survey conducted in 2018 found:

  • 78% of attendees used alcohol
  • 38% of attendees used marijuana
  • 13% of attendees used MDMA
  • 8% of attendees consumed hallucinogenic mushrooms
  • 7% of attendees used cocaine
  • 4% of attendees used some kind of Opioid

RAP, Alcohol, and Aggression

This genre frequently references drugs, including alcohol, cocaine, and marijuana. Rap has also been linked to aggressive behavior and crime in listeners. A study found a positive and even significant association between rap and:

  • Alcohol use
  • Problematic alcohol use
  • Illicit drug use
  • Aggressive behaviors

This isn’t surprising given the history of the genre: rap emerged because of African Americans’ experiences with police brutality during the 1970s and 1980s. In response to this oppression, many songs were created that addressed these issues or used violence to defend oneself against those who would harm them or their communities—as well as symbolize strength against injustice. 

Music and Drug References

We know that the music we listen to affects our emotions, but there’s a lot more going on at the subliminal level. 

The connection between drugs and rock music isn’t quite so clear-cut (after all, you’ve probably never heard anyone say, “Have you seen Led Zeppelin live? They’re like a drug.”), but there are some interesting correlations in the data that can’t be ignored. For instance: heavy metal has been linked with various forms of substance use disorder; grunge was popularized by Seattle’s grunge scene, which became known for its focus on hard drugs; punk rock often had an unhealthy relationship with alcohol abuse… We could go on all day!

However, the winner of the musical genre that mentions drugs the most often falls on country music! Out of eight genres studied by addictions.com, the country won as the genre that mentions drug use the most. 

Genre Average Mention per Song
Country >1.6
Jazz 1.4
Pop 1.3
Electronic 1.2
Rock 1
Other 1
Folk 0.9
Rap 0.85

This easily challenges the common assumption that rappers are the druggies of the music world. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, reach out for help. Contact NYC rehab today. You’re not alone.

Which Drugs Does Music Mention the Most? 

This answer is easy. While you can find at least one song mentioning any drug of choice, the most popular is definitely marijuana. Again, thanks to the addictions.com study, we know that over 30% of drug mentions reference marijuana in some form.  

Cocaine follows closely in second place, with around 22% of mentions, with acid, pills, meth, heroin, and ecstasy lagging behind between 8 and 10%.  

Genres and their favorite drugs 

Obviously, cannabis is the favorite drug of choice to mention in the music of all genres, but how does the rest of it break down? From pills and acid to cocaine and meth, each genre seems to have favorites to mention. The chart below breaks down the results from addictions.com: 

Genre 1st Place 2nd Place 3rd Place
Rock Marijuana Cocaine Acid
Pop Marijuana Ecstasy Cocaine
Jazz Acid Marijuana Ecstasy
Folk Cocaine Marijuana Pills
Country Marijuana Cocaine Meth
Hip-Hop Marijuana Cocaine Meth
Electronic  Marijuana Cocaine Acid
Other Marijuana Cocaine Pills

Conclusion

Well, you can bet that the next time your favorite song plays on the radio or in a club, you’ll be just a little more likely to listen to those lyrics. 

Especially with teenagers, it’s’ important to have a conversation about drugs and healthy coping mechanisms. Often, you’ll find the later work of popular artists singing about how much that drug use ruined their lives and how much they lost because of it.