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Substance Use Disorder In The Fashion Industry

The relationship between addiction and the fashion industry is a multifaceted issue. From the prevalence of substance abuse among fashion professionals to the impact of fashion advertising on vulnerable individuals, several factors intertwine to create this connection.

Fashion is a high-stress industry. About 35% of fashion models admitted to drug use in the past 30 days, compared to 12% of peers in one research study in the early 2000s.

Fashion Has High-Pressure, Demanding Jobs and Schedules

The high-pressure and demanding nature of the fashion industry can often lead to drug use, including micro dosing. Creatives as well as talent may turn to substances as a coping mechanism to “keep up” with longer workdays. Stress, long working hours, and intense competition are common themes for people who work in the industry.

High-pressure jobs are often associated with drugs and alcohol. The fashion industry is no exception; drug and alcohol use is common among fashion designers, models, and other stakeholders. Celebrities, as well, often have trouble coping with fame and may use substances to self-medicate complex feelings.

Some celebrities, such as models and actresses, who develop eating orders use drugs like cocaine to help control their appetite.

Truth And Fiction In The Fashion Industry

Television shows often show the fashion industry’s “wild side” – glorifying sex, drugs, and even eating disorders. This type of trope in fiction can help normalize addictive behaviors, especially among impressionable younger people. Influencers are often involved in a party atmosphere to help create content, as well.

Continued exposure to images or messages glamorizing drugs and alcohol in advertising and other media can desensitize individuals to the risks associated with substance use.

This sort of messaging is often loud and clear to the most impressionable people - young people. And many of these young people hope to be influencers or models in the industry.

Fashion, Trendchasing, and Addictive Tendencies

Obsessive behaviors like trend-chasing can also be linked to addictive tendencies. The constant pressure to keep up with rapidly changing trends can cause stress. Shopping as a means of emotional fulfillment can develop into compulsive behavior, especially for younger people.

Club and party scenes associated with celebrities, socialites, and other elites can foster an environment where substance use is normalized.

This association can influence younger people seeking acceptance and hoping to establish a career as an influencer, model, or other worker in the fashion industry.

Eating Disorders as a Co-Occurring Disorder to SUD

Many people in the fashion industry may have body image issues and live with a co-occurring eating disorder. The pursuit of an idealized appearance, and the pressure to be super-thin, can lead to eating disorders and other addictive behaviors related to body image.

The fashion industry also has a reputation for taking advantage of naïve young women. There have been stories of young women being handed a sedative to help with anxiety before a shoot or other drugs to help them “get in the zone”.

The Industry’s Relationship to SUD is Complex

The relationship between addiction and the fashion industry involves various factors. There is a lot of stress and competition within all parts of the industry, from the models to the marketing department. There is also a party atmosphere among influencers. Some models and other industry workers turn to substance use to cope with long days and stressful projects.

There are also new attitudes in the industry that protect the well-being of its professionals and consumers alike.

Better representation within the industry, such as highlighting disabled models, or different shapes and sizes, can help take some of the pressure off of being thin, and help art better reflect reality.  Fair wages and work hours, lobbied for by labor unions, can also make a difference in the quality of life issues.

Getting Help for Addiction

People from all walks of life struggle with addiction. The same people also are able to find recovery. We’re here to help you start your journey and begin to reclaim your life. Give us a call to learn more about your options.



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Mark G
Mark Gladden brings both personal and professional experience to his role as co-founder of Present Moments Recovery. Now in long-term recovery himself after struggling with addiction for years, Mark understands firsthand the challenges men face in achieving and maintaining sobriety. It was this insight, combined with a desire to help others, that led Mark to establish Present Moments Recovery.

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