For many people looking from the outside in, the Straight Edge community and lifestyle can come across as extremely exclusive and judgmental. For individuals who have struggled or are currently struggling with addiction/abuse, it could be assumed that our brother and sisterhood would be the very last place to find help or support. However, Straight Edge and Substance Abuse have gone hand in hand since day one.
9.5 million or 3.8% of adults over the age of 18 have both a substance abuse disorder (SUD) and a mental illness.AmericanAddictionCenter.org
According to AmericanAddictionCenter.org, “9.5 million or 3.8% of adults over the age of 18 have both a substance abuse disorder (SUD) and a mental illness.”
The Hardcore scene for many has always been a sense of family and escape from the negative aspects of this world. Many of us grew up within fractured homes, communities, and school systems where substance abuse played a part in our lives. Those moments caused mental trauma at points in our lives where we were most vulnerable. At this time many of us discovered the hardcore/metal scene and Straight Edge lifestyle through whatever means was most fluid.
That sense of community and fellowship helped us push through troubled times to help one another grow and become stronger. However, not everyone makes it out of that childhood and teen trauma without developing an addiction in the process themselves. With 3.8% of adults over the age of 18 having both substance abuse disorder and a mental illness, it can be correlated that those struggles go hand in hand. So as members of the Straight Edge and Hardcore community, what can we do?
According to AAC.org, “Individual success in treatment depends on several factors, including:
- The frequency, duration, and type of drug used.
- Criminal behaviors.
- Family and social environments.
- Educational background.
- Employment status.
- Additional physical and mental health conditions.
Although no one is capable of changing an individual’s past, there is plenty of aid within these factors that we can offer our fellow comrades in order to prevent continued cycles of abuse. With Family/Social Environments, Employment Status, and Physical/Mental Health Conditions being contributing factors; we can lend aid within these areas:
- Social Situations: We can easily help bring or invite those in recovery with us to safe social environments that inspire a sober means of living and pathway to recovery. For many of us going to a show and seeing our favorite bands perform, or performing ourselves is a way to release aggression and let go of the frustrations that have occurred (some of which may be a trigger for those in recovery). We can also provide information about treatment programs for those who have not entered a sober lifestyle yet.
- Employment: We can’t always assist in finding employment for our friends, but there are definitely ways to help others with their work and transport. If we aren’t able to place a friend into employment, we can always help with transportation or references to hopefully find a career or education that is not only a healthy environment but a stable economical choice.
- Mental Health: Mental Health contributes to every aspect of addiction and is by far the highest contributing factor. The biggest thing we can do to assist our fellow humans with these conditions and stressors is to listen and take precautionary measures to reduce escalation. Many people facing anxiety, depression, and other mental conditions just need someone to be available/willing to listen to show them that they matter. Sharing our hearts and Ears is the biggest action we can take to help those struggling with addiction stemming from mental health.
We can normalize Therapy and Counseling to those around us and help reduce the stigma that comes with it. An additional step we can take is to sign up for a QPR training course that helps recognize and de-escalate those struggling with Suicidal Idealization and Depression. These courses (standing for Question, Persuade, Refer) just like CPR, are recognized as an emergency response to someone in crisis and can save lives. QPR is the most widely taught gatekeeper training in the world to prevent those on the verge of attempting (to find/sign up for a seminar contact: qprinstitute.com).
Addiction is not a choice and those struggling or those that have struggled should be treated with compassion and understanding instead of judgment. There are many contributing factors that will push someone to fall into substance abuse regardless of drug. As a subculture and community we have the opportunity to not only better ourselves and the music scene, but those that surround us in our every day to day lives. Helping those in recovery or providing information to recovery is easily something we can provide to others.
Helping with social environments/potential triggers, work and employment situations, as well as comfort/support to those with mental health conditions are ways the Straight Edge community can make a solid difference. Straight Edge and music in general saved my life and have helped me turn my perception of life around after my Suicide Attempt. We can make those changes in the world around us, and we have the ability to share our hearts and help those struggling with addiction.
“Some amazing nonprofit organizations that have made an enormous impact for those struggling with Addiction and Mental Health within the Straight Edge and Music community include: Hope for the Day, Project Semicolon, The Trevor Project, To Write Love On Her Arms, and The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.”