Ask an Expert: How Can I Stay Clean When My Band Doesn't?

By Harold Owens 12/30/14

Today's question is on what to do when your band mates create an environment that's hard to stay clean in.


 My band is on the road a lot and we mess around a bit with pot, coke and sometimes meth. Hard to stay clean in the enviro but I can't afford to give up the gigs or disrupt the group, so how can I or any of us get help on the road?

Harold Owens: Addiction is an occupational related hazard when you are a traveling musician and certainly not a conducive environment in which to stay sober. I don't know if you are an addict or not, but if any or all of you are considering getting sober, the first thing you need to do is to get help. I recognize that if the ship has sailed, the decision would affect the livelihood of everyone involved with the band. It is a decision based on whether or not you can keep it together and to what degree your life is unmanageable. If you're out there screwing up, don't jeopardize your career. Cancel the tour and get help. 

If you are considering finishing the tour you need to create a healthy environment when you are out there. The first is to stop using, if you can. The next thing is to structure your day with activities that are healthy including: finding a 12-step meeting in every city you visit and calling someone you know in recovery and calling them every day. Don't hang out at the venue either before or after the show. Ask for support from your band mates. The MusiCares Foundation is a resource for all of the above, including treatment. Call me directly at 310-382-4398310-382-4398and I can help. Remember, there are many musicians out there staying clean and you are not alone.


Harold Owens is Senior Director of the MusiCares/MAP FUND, the charity arm of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (the GRAMMY organization). He is responsible for the implementation of all aspects of MusiCares addiction recovery program for artists. Earlier, for three years, he was Program Director of The Exodus Recovery Center, at one time the largest behavioral health and chemical dependency treatment program on the West Coast. He can be reached at [email protected].  Full Bio.

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