Everybody knows that drug use and music were nearly inseparable in the ’60s and ’70s – think Woodstock and obvious song titles like “Cocaine” by Eric Clapton and “Heroin” by Velvet Underground – but do substance abuse and music still go hand in hand today? To find out, we analyzed over 6 million Instagram posts about 30 of today’s hottest artists to discover which music icons inspire the most mentions of alcohol and drugs (both legal and otherwise). The results? Let’s just say perhaps there’s a reason The Weeknd can’t feel his face, and it has nothing to do with the euphoric effects of love.
Whether substance use and abuse are a part of their message and image (as with Snoop Dogg’s marijuana obsession) or certain artists are simply loved and referenced by fans who “choose to use” is unclear. What is obvious, however, is that drugs and music are still very much an item, sticking together through decades of new music genres, new drugs, and even changes in the legal code. So whether it’s Johnny Cash and his Cocaine Blues or Halsey, “high on legal marijuana,” music and substance abuse will continue to go together like, well, John, Yoko, and hashish.
We scraped Instagram for over 6.1 million posts mentioning 30 different popular music artists to determine the percentage of posts that contain public mentions related to various intoxicating substances such as alcohol, marijuana, and many others, including 82 popular terms or slang associated with each substance. Musicians were selected by being in the top 30 on Iconosquare.com’s Top Brand for Musicians list at the time the research took place; all posts were collected during November 2015 using the Instagram API. Posts containing multiple mentions of a single substance have been combined. A full list of the substances we searched for within the posts can be read here.
In the Substance Mentions on Instagram graphic, the “Other” category is made up of a combination of intoxicating substances which include MDMA-Ecstacy/Molly, Spice, Mushrooms, Heroin, DMT, Inhalants, PCP, and Stimulants.
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