Addiction Is A Disease

“26 but I done lived a lifetime a few times from futons to Grey Poupon” – Big Sean

The first time I’d heard the term “accidental overdose” was when Heath Ledger died.

I was clearly shaken, I just didn’t understand what this term meant & assumed a doctor messed up somewhere.

 

Now I feel that term means when a person takes a substance and didn’t mean to overdose.

I’ve heard many times since my first interaction with it.

Especially in hip hop there’s been ebbs and flow with discussions about mental health and substance abuse.

People take drugs for difference reasons and for some it’s because of PTSD.

The BBC compares the trauma taking place to a ‘war zone.

Fredo Santana confessed he took lean to cope with the nightmares of the experience that were around him growing up and dealing with the deaths of his close friends.

Young Thug on We Ball gives in insight on his mind state after losing Keith Troup “Lost so many niggas, I went crazy. I couldn’t balance it…Sipping on this Actavis, I swear I gotta manage it”.

And sometimes people take it to deal with mental issues.

Demi Lovato, who is bipolar, recently suffered from an overdose after a relapse after six years of sobriety.

Chris Brown before being diagnosed self medicated with a plethora of drugs and abused substances.

Addiction is a disease.

Today we just lost musician Mac Miller.

At 26 he had his whole life ahead of him but he also lived a life many times over.

He as one of the leaders of the new school in the early aughts was vulnerable even early on in his raps with his struggles of substance abuse and depression.

 

As an independent artist he made waves with his debut album Blue Slide Park going number one on Billboard being the first “independently distributed debut album” since Tha Dogg Pound’s Dogg Food to top the chart.

And after being in Billboard 200’s top 3 with his second album he showed what was possible by signing a $10 million deal with Warner Bros. Records including a distribution deal for his label REMember Music.

 

His musical transition was something to marvel at going from being labeled as a “frat rapper” and having Asher Roth comparisons to becoming more like a Quincy Jones as he was a producer in the classical sense.

Being a multi instrumentalist (Drums, bass, guitar, piano) himself after laying the groundwork he contracted musicians to bring his ideas and melodies to life.

“I love that there’s a lot of people that as my tastes have matured in music so has theirs’…I have an incredible fan base that has followed me through everything. Everything has been very different.” – Mac Miller, Rosenberg Interview

I remember the first time I heard of Mac Miller it was on YouTube and through watching music videos that I became familiar.

First was Kool Aid & Frozen Pizza then I thought the concept for Knock Knock was dope being a throwback to the 50’s and that being juxtaposed with carefree kids partying. He wasn’t one of those “now and later” rappers JAY-Z described on Imaginary Players where they’d rap like they were bigger than they were with hopes that those rhymes would be the catalyst to getting those luxuries.

Instead he hit us with lines like “I ain’t gotta Benz, no just a Honda. But try to get my money like an Anaconda”.

On my favorite song of his, My Favorite Part, which was the third single off Devine Feminine he’s being real on where he is. “It’s been a while since I’ve been sober. This life can be so hard, I’d rather talk about you.”

He walked through those doors opened by people like Kanye West, Kid Cudi & Drake and didn’t front about his feelings.

 

On being honest he said “it’s a lot easier, I don’t have to remember the last lie I told you. I don’t have to remember what the ‘story; is. It’s just we have a conversation and you see where I am mentally.”

 

As someone who deals with depression it can be isolating and it’s very easy to try to get out of that head space. And with drugs it can numb or mask the pain but the wounds are still there.

With the conversation of addiction coming back around I just hope that it’s more nuanced than victim blaming or a blunt anti-drug message that can tone deaf and not helpful at all.

 

Addiction truly is a disease and just like any other disease there’s resources available to combat it.

There’s also grace so be with those who are struggling and fighting because sobriety is much more complicated than many feel.