For many of us, there is nothing as visually stunning or emotionally stirring as watching live performance art. Whether you are enjoying an annual performance from the New York City Ballet company or immersing yourself in the magical world of Cirque du Soleil, we can all agree that dancers are some of the most captivating, energetic, and gorgeous examples of living art we can meet. After all, years of skill development and masterful education is required to become an element of moving portrait. Like any other athlete, professional dancers are driven by an instinctive desire to push their bodies to the max and achieve the highest level of success.
Unfortunately, though, this pursuit of perfection can often lead to feelings of exhaustion and (in the worst case scenario) hopelessness. Behind the taffeta, lace, and tulle, dancers are suffering more than we could ever imagine. Broken toes, enlarged toenails, dry skin, and torn ligaments are only tidbits of the pain and suffering dancers endure on their path to becoming a prima ballerina or a ballet master. If you have suffered from a similar foot problem before, then you can appreciate how agonizing dance rehearsals can be.
So, on that note, we can understand how (at some point in their careers) drugs and alcohol begin to creep into the picture. Like any athlete, pain can become unmanageable. What better way to cope with this agony and discomfort than popping opioids or snorting coke?
Overall, you might be surprised to hear this. After all, how on earth could a troupe of people dedicated to physical perfection be consumed by some of the most addictive substances on the planet? There couldn’t possibly be a way they could perform like this, right?
The fact of the matter is, that dancers suffer from addiction to drugs like opioids, cocaine, and alcohol as much as the average person. Let’s take a closer look at the horrifying reality of professional dancing and addiction.
Finding Relief and Escape through Addictive Substances
According to former dancer and Miami City Ballet Principal Simone Messmer describes professional dancers as some of the most self-abusive people on the planet. Despite the fact that they train their entire lives to become fit and limber, she points out that these men and women never undergo rehabilitation and can be heavy drinkers. Overall, as Messmer points out, the public concept of dancers being images of perfection is an absolute myth.
In another report, Nadine Kaslow (resident psychologist at the Atlanta Ballet) explains how some dancers believe they are invincible and completely impervious to harm. While she discounts the fact that drugs are an infamous tradition of the dance scene, Kaslow does believe trends of drug abuse and addiction are more common in company culture instead of the whole industry. In fact, some of her pre-professional patients have successfully undergone treatment programs and gained notable careers with renowned companies.
The Presence of Cocaine in the World of Dance
At the start of its decade of dominance, the drug cocaine quickly gained popularity in the dance industry and slowly but surely found its way into the world of ballet, where it destroyed the lives of multiple rising stars. In fact, one of the first cases that revealed this truth occurred when Gelsey Kirkland wrote about her cocaine addiction in Dancing on My Grave (1981), her memoirs. However, the ballet world quickly got a terrifying wake-up call when Patrick Bissell, a star of the American Ballet Theater, died from a drug-related overdose six years later, in 1987. Another particularly infamous case took place in 2013, when Nikolaj Hübbe (artistic director of the Royal Danish Ballet) fought against reports posted in Danish newspapers that accused him of sharing cocaine with dancers in his company.
When you lay the cards on the table, you will begin to understand why cocaine addiction and dance are a fatal combination. Costing an estimated $100 per gram, coke is a deadly drug that can inflict tremendous damage on fit, athletic dancers’ bodies. After a while, victims of this substance will suffer from cardiovascular and respiratory failure, severe headaches, anger, anxiety, psychosis, and paranoia. In this case, you can see why professionals like Nadine Kaslow accept so many patients into their treatment programs.
Coming-of-Age Drug Addiction and Dance Careers
Ultimately, dancers start their careers at (perhaps) the most vulnerable time of their lives. According to Dr. Andrew Saxton (director of the Addiction Psychiatry Residency Program at the University of Washington), an estimated 70 to 80% of people start using cocaine when they enter their teenage years, which is precisely when ballet dancers begin training. Likewise, Dr. Linda Hamilton (a private clinical consultant and wellness consultant for the New York City Ballet) explains that unbearable stress can drive a dancer to use drugs like cocaine, as they see the drug as an opportunity to escape and a means of feeling victorious (through hard partying).
Seeking Treatment for Alcoholism and Drug Addiction
At The Recover, we fully understand how difficult treatment programs can be for addicts through our daily work to help these individuals overcome this terrible, painful disease. Although many people believe they can overcome their problems without help, residential rehabilitation treatment programs are still an essential step on the road to recovery. Although the path to health and happiness might not be an easy one to take, you can finally enter the threshold to freedom with the help of a loving, supporting team. Additional aspects like counseling and psychological care can ensure you address underlying psychological issues that ultimately led you to become an addict. From here, you can build an infrastructure that will help you live your life with entering relapse, all with the help of a solid residential rehabilitation treatment program.
An unbiased and substance abuse and mental health news provider, The Recover works hard to help victims of drug abuse or addiction discover the right residential rehabilitation treatment programs in their local areas. We also provide detailed information concerning West Virginia Centers for addiction recovery. For more information, contact us today at (888) 510-3898 to learn more about our comprehensive drug and alcohol addiction treatment program.