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How to help an alcoholic musician stay sober while playing in bars

Discussion in 'Alcohol' started by BlanketOfSecrecy, Jun 6, 2015.

  1. I have a friend that we'll call J, for purposes of anonymity, who's a musician that struggles with alcoholism. He recently completed a successful stint of rehab and claims he hasn't had a drink in 2 months. I think a lot of his success comes from changing his environment. J used to live in a house of "party dudes," but now he's living out in the country working on a farm. He essentially went from having 24/7 access and encouragement to drink to no access at all. We hang out about once or twice a week and he already looks a lot better. I obviously don't think everything is magically okay but you can tell he's made some big strides.

    The problem here is J is a musician and the only real places to play concerts in our area are bars. While J obviously isn't hanging out in bars now, he will probably have to if he wants to keep playing music in this area. Is there anything I can do to help him make this easier? I've offered to skip drinking at his shows so he has a sober person to hang out with, but is that really enough? I know J, and playing music is really important to him. He's currently taking a break from his band, but they have some things booked in July. I know there are other alcoholic performers who are able to perform in places that serve alcohol with no problems so I was just wondering if anyone had any suggestions.
  2. Bonzer

    Bonzer Community Champion

    The problem obviously is not alcohol but the wavering mind. J seems to be tempted too easily and the sight of alcohol serves as a trigger. He may be counselled to stay strong and overcome any triggers that are making him fall back into the addiction. Professional help can surely benefit him.
  3. I'm pretty sure he's going to therapy now, I know he's not going it completely alone. I know the pros are the people who are going to do the most good.

    The problem is I know he's going to start playing music again and I recognize how impulsive he can be. He's already made claims about how even though he hasn't drank in a couple months, that he's pretty sure he'd be okay having just one beer. I know his bandmates are responsible and want to prevent that from happening, but I also know there will be people out there who don't care about that and will try to get him to drink with them. I'm also sure there are people who don't know about his rehab stint.

    I think it will probably get easier once he gets in the habit of playing a set without drinking. It's just that those first few will be hard.
  4. Bonzer

    Bonzer Community Champion

    Yes, I understand what you've been saying. It's difficult initially, but he would be able to say a NO, a firm NO after he receives some kind of professional help. They teach him the importance of enjoying the life and not fumbling to obligations and peer pressure. A strong individual would regain his wits to tactfully negate his friends' pressure and he can explain his version rather articulately to his bandmates. It's all about confidence and he'll gather loads of it after a stint of counselling. Good Luck to you and your friend!
  5. DancingLady

    DancingLady Community Champion

    He might not want to get back into playing in bars too quickly became he will be in a very tempting environment. If he has people with him who are their just to play music, not to participate in drinking, the support will be really helpful, but I think he should probably take it slow, not just jump right back into his old schedule.
  6. missbishi

    missbishi Community Champion

    As long as he's careful, he should be ok. He needs to consider what course of action he will take if he finds that he is tempted in the bars. It would be of great help for him to have a couple of coping strategies lined up.
  7. MyDigitalpoint

    MyDigitalpoint Community Champion

    Sometimes seems that alcohol (or drugs) and music go hand in hand, but it's possible keep alcohol away, as you said, changing of environment, not always possible when it comes to playing at bars or other venues where alcohol will always a temptation in his way.

    Reading what@missbishi comments, I recalled of someone, don't remember exactly who, but a renowned writer or musician interviewed on TV explaining how he continued being a party-goer with friends but as mere pretender.

    His friends were into cocaine and he spent hard time gaining sobriety to fall twice in the same mistake, so whenever they used to meet, he was carrying his own "cocaine" to change it at a given moment after being offered with some, and the trick was in the formulation of his drug: a crushed aspirin that resembled to be cocaine, so no harm really by snorting occasionally this powder.

    Your friend could do the same, prepare at home some whisky (or drink of choice) bottles but with a non-alcoholic beverage resembling what it's supposed to be the bottle. Beers are probably the best aid in this case because he can buy root beer, which is a non-alcoholic beverage, and pouring it in a regular beer bottle.

    It's about willpower pretend to drink alcohol without wanting to drink it really, in fact a strong will could make his mind disassociate alcohol and stage-time this way.
  8. JoanMcWench

    JoanMcWench Community Champion

    He needs to replace the motion & the usage if it's a part of his show. Sometimes artists incorporate alcohol into the performance. I know a sober friend who plays in a metal band that drinks from a JD bottle & spits it into the crowd but it's apple juice. No one has complained yet.

    If that's not the case for him it'll help to try things similar to what he's used to drinking. Was it beer? Try O'Doul's. Mixed drinks? Soda water with lime. So on & so forth. I think the most difficult point will be the interaction after the show because it's downtime. That's when the drinking seems like a great idea. Maybe best to let teh other band memebers do the socializing & leave afterward if it's that difficult.

    Sidenote: Belushi was so aggresively addicted to cocaine & alcohol that at a certain point he hired a security guard to keep people away who encouraged that behaviour. Worked out until the guard had to quit & he ended up dead soon after.
  9. JoshPosh

    JoshPosh Community Champion

    That is not a good situation to be in at all. He just needs to keep in mind of what his ultimate goal is and not give into temptation. I use to play in a band and after a set, everyone wants to drink and talk to the performers. He just needs to head off the stage and go find a quiet place to sit alone.
  10. henry

    henry Community Champion

    Well, it all comes down to will power. One thing he can do to try and stay sober is to leave the bar right after the gig is over. If he sticks around after that, he might end up drinking again. And, yes, it would be of great support if you didn't drink at his gigs.
  11. JonnyMacdonald

    JonnyMacdonald Community Champion

    Having a sober friend helps so much, because you guys get to laugh at the drunks and say "it's awesome we are not acting like jackasses." Just having that support can make it easier.
    Try telling the bartender you are recovering. Ask them no matter what you say that he's only to serve you virgin drinks. If he's the muscian that's even more incentive since you want him playing his best.
  12. Nergaahl

    Nergaahl Community Champion

    It's really nice of you that you care about your friend and you try to support him at any time. But you should start believing in his ability to stay sober. If he is really that dedicated to quitting drinking, I think a bunch of people will not influence him, especially if he also has sober friends around. If things are turning out worse, just try to get him away from the beverage ASAP. Good luck and best wishes to you and your friend!