Why Are Drugs So Popular In Music?

Why Are Drugs So Popular In Music?

It’s common knowledge that drugs are extremely dangerous and addiction is a big problem in the United States. However, drug references are common in all genres of music, from country to rock ‘n’ roll to rap. So why do artists promote something in their music if they know it’s harmful?

The History of Music & Drugs

You probably won’t be surprised to hear that music has contained drug references for decades. But did you know that some of the earliest songs in existence are about topics like drinking alcohol, taking drugs, and having sex? Sailors, pirates, and soldiers alike have been writing and singing songs to get them through their long days since the beginning of time. And of course, people like to write songs based on what they know and what is familiar to them. So since these men spent their days drinking alcohol and having reckless experiences, their songs reflected that. This trend has stayed true throughout the centuries and is now reflected in today’s music.


Music started being recorded in the 1930s, when technology was able to support it. At this point, people were able to take music home with them in addition to listening to it live. As people began to listen to music and home and play songs on repeat, they paid more attention to the lyrics. This is when the American public began to notice drug references in music.


By the time the 1970s started, drug references in music (especially rock ‘n’ roll) were extremely common. This era encouraged partying, staying out all night, and using drugs. And since many people were using drugs in musical environments, there was a direct link between the two.

Drug References In Music

Because of this rock ‘n’ roll era, the number of illicit substances mentioned in songs spiked between the 1970s and the 2000s. But strangely enough, rock isn’t the genre that promotes drug use the most. Recent studies have actually shown that country music contains more alcohol and drug references than any other genre.

In order, here are the musical genres that mention drug use the most:

    • Country
    • Jazz
    • Pop
    • Electric
    • Rock
    • Folk
    • Rap

Ironically, rock and rap contain the least amount of drug and alcohol references. Many people believe that these genres would have the most references because of the artists’ extravagant lifestyles, but that isn’t necessarily true. Musical artists throughout all genres commonly reference and encourage the use of drugs like weed, cocaine, ecstasy, acid, heroin, and more.

Weed, or marijuana, is mentioned more than any other drug in music. This is both because the drug is gaining popularity with decriminalization and because marijuana is usually the drug of choice for musicians across all genres. This substance is frequently mentioned in rap, country, folk music, reggae, and more. Some more intense party drugs, like MDMA and Molly, are very popular in the EDM scene. This is because the sound of the music and the sensations of the drug pair together to create a euphoric and pleasurable effect. Substance abuse has become very popular at events such as concerts, raves, musical festivals, and related events.

How To Create Change As A Consumer

As consumers, it is our job to recognize the music that has a bad influence on us and to eliminate it from our library. While we can’t remove harmful messages from reaching everyone, we can make sure it doesn’t reach us and the people we love. The best we can do is support artists that encourage healthy habits and a positive lifestyle. No genre is “safe” from drug references, so just use your best judgment to decide what you and your family listen to.

Do you have any questions about the link between drug use and music? Contact our team of substance abuse treatment representatives to learn more. Give us a call at 267.209.7313.


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