German classical musicians turning to drugs and alcohol
A growing number of classical musicians in Germany are turning to drugs and alcohol, according to the vice president of the German Association for Music Physiology and Musicians' Medicine (DGfMM).
“In my experience, 25 to 30 percent of the musicians regularly use pills and alcohol for stage fright,” Helmut Möller told German daily Berliner Zeitung on Wednesday. “There are studies that support these numbers, and the tendency is growing,” he said.
Competition between musicians has become more intense in Germany over the last several years.
“There are simply more musicians training than are needed,” said Möller, who is also the head of the Kurt Singer Institute for musicians health at the Universität der Künste in Berlin. “Which means orchestras are closing and fewer positions are available.”
More musicians are coming to Germany from abroad, particularly Russian and Asia, which also adds to competitive stress, Möller said.
One-third of musicians suffer symptoms of stage fright, Möller told the paper. Symptoms include sluggish coordination, shortness of breath, depression, sleep disorders and anxiety attacks.
Musicians are using beta blockers, which regulates heart rate, and psychological pharmaceuticals like anti-depressants to manage their stress, Möller said.