The link between substances and boredom


author: jacob nelsen | staff writer

Nicolas Völcker via Wikimedia Commons

Mac Miller’s death illuminates substance abuse issues

The recent news of Mac Miller’s death comes at a time where the issues surrounding substance abuse are at an all-time high. It feels like it was just last week when I heard about Avicii’s overdose, and just yesterday when Demi Lovato was making national headlines for her heroin abuse. Even in recent years we have lost many musicians and actors to a whole host of different drugs – names like Tom Petty, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Michael Jackson, and Heath Ledger – and every time a celebrity dies people point all the blame toward depression. While depression is a serious issue, our society has had to face over the years (and thankfully we have seen numerous celebrities and everyday people come out to acknowledge depression’s prominence), I don’t believe all these deaths should be thrown into the same category.  

In a 2016 documentary by the Fader magazine, Mac Miller touched on his issues with substances. Miller said, “It started with me just sitting inside all day and then it’s like, then you get bored. Then you’re like, ‘Well I could just be high, and I could have a whole adventure in this room.’” He went on further to say, “I’m always like, if someone’s like, ‘You want to try this?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah sure.’ It fucks you up when you have a bunch of money because you try a drug, you like it, then you can buy a lot of it. I went through about everything.” 

It was this quote of Miller’s that nailed the hammer on the head for me. The problem is not necessarily depression itself, but more the reason why people become addicted to drugs. Boredom plays a huge factor. Becoming bored while in-between life’s adventures causes one to become more curious about things they never had time for. Drugs are a gateway to a different – and most would say more colorful – experience, whether they be alcohol, weed, mushrooms, or heroin. It’s a feeling that is hard to replicate because having the same amount of fun when sober requires what most people would consider a lot of energy, and with drugs all you must do is take them. People have stated that drugs like ‘shrooms make them feel like they have all the answers to the universe, and that when they come down, they forget everything and can only be reminded of it by getting high again. 

Firstly, we need to stop the argument as to whether depression is just a temporary problem or if it’s a mental illness, because guess what, it exists, and it doesn’t make a difference what you label it. Next, we need to understand that substance abuse stems from a plethora of reasons, and that we can’t just label it as a coping mechanism for depression. And finally, we need to mourn those we’ve lost to substance abuse, and support those still battling it, because substances, whether they are prescription or illegal, will always exist if there is someone with money willing to buy them.  


If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, the contact number for counseling services at the University of Regina is 306-585-4491.

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