Chance The Rapper Admits to Xanax Addiction

Addiction has laid an early claim to the lives of some of the world’s greatest musicians: jazz icons like Charlie Parker and Billie Holiday, rock legends such as Janis Joplin and Kurt Cobain, and pop superstars Prince and Whitney Houston were all in the throes of active addiction when they met their untimely ends. With three Grammy Awards to his name and recent sobriety from an admitted addiction to the anti-anxiety medication Xanax, Chance the Rapper is making sure that he isn’t next in that line of fallen stars.

The Chicago hip hop artist, who became the first artist to win a Grammy for music created without a physical format, frequently referenced drug and alcohol use in his first few major commercial works. Now a household name, Chance has engaged in a remarkable emotional and spiritual maturation that is reflected in music, in his social media presence and in his public persona.

His most recent full-length offering, titled Coloring Book, has lyrics that highlight his rededication to the Christian faith and features soaring vocals from a gospel choir with full orchestration.The subject matter reflects a transformation into manhood, with the jagged edges of self-doubt, temptation and recklessness smoothened by the continuous flow of rhymes that celebrate a spiritually centered and balanced life. On Coloring Book, Chance laid out a template for embracing a new identity as a family man, a savvy businessman, a child of God and as a person in recovery.

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In 2018, Chance furthered his dedication to this new life with an engagement to his long-time girlfriend, through discussing his faith and his addiction recovery efforts with various entertainment news outlets and by increasingly highlighting on social media his relationship with his daughter. But it wasn’t always this way.

“Every saint has a past; every sinner has a future.”

–Oscar Wilde

Born Chancelor Bennett in the middle-class West Chatham neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side in 1993, Chance begin rapping in junior high school after hearing fellow Chicagoan Kanye West’s debut album The College Dropout. By high school, he was smoking cannabis regularly, with a reputation for being a poor student. However, he began garnering critical acclaim for his witty content and punchy delivery, and his first mixtape, 10 Day, has been downloaded a half-million times despite no major label involvement. The lyrics from the 18-year-old Bennett were often centered around cannabis and alcohol use. As he gained wider exposure, “harder” drugs became easier to obtain, and he soon began using sedatives on a recreational basis.

If 10 Day represented a glancing blow from the powerful forces of a potential addiction, Chance’s next mixtape, Acid Rap, was a direct uppercut to the chin from addiction’s heavyweight division. The intro track alone featured references to “gallons of lean” (a drink associated with hip hop culture that consists of soda mixed with a prescription cough medication containing the opioid codeine and the antihistamine sedative promethazine),“hundreds of Xan” (referring to Xanax), LSD and Ecstasy. Every song on the album featured lyrics about a drug, and sexual innuendo was prominent through the album’s entirety. But like the addictive forces the album portended, the driving beats and clever wordplay held an undeniably seductive sway, and the mixtape was downloaded 1.5 million times.

I’ll take you to a land
Where the lake is made of sand
And the milk don’t pour
And the honey don’t dance

–Lyrics to “Pusha Man” from the Acid Rap mixtape

By this time, Chance was consuming Xanax with increasing regularity, and as his career ramped up he found himself unable to function without it. The next years saw him move away from his hometown and lose control over most aspects of his life—his relationships with women quickly deteriorated, as did his physical and psychological health. Time, money and energy not spent on his burgeoning music career was spent on obtaining Xanax, using it or recovering from its effects. Like so many who suffer from addiction, Chance’s externally visible success masked his internal chaos, and he became increasingly detached and less productive and harbored a deep sense of emptiness and despair.

I’m calling out to God
Your little angel’s falling down
Save me from my darkened cloud
Reach your hands and arms around

–Lyrics to “Long Time” from the 10 Day mixtape

Knowing that he needed to make a radical change, Chance moved back to Chicago and had more frequent conversations with his family. He reconnected with an old girlfriend, and upon finding out they were expecting a child, he began the rocky process of trying to leave his old life behind. However, when his daughter was diagnosed with a potentially dangerous heart rhythm disturbance called atrial flutter, his efforts coalesced as he found himself increasingly involved in prayer and reading Scripture to center himself. He began feeling more emotionally balanced and stable, and was inspired to create Coloring Book, his most acclaimed, creative and inspiring work to date. His follow-up mixtapes have allowed him to combine the playful swagger of his earliest work with the solid foundation of a Christ-centered life.

I get my word from the sermon
I do not talk to the serpent
That’s the holistic discernment
Daddy said I’m so determined
Told me these goofies can’t hurt me
I just might make me some earl tea
I was baptized like real early
I might give Satan a swirly

–Lyrics to “All We Got” from the Coloring Book mixtape

Music as a Sound Path to RecoverySoundpath Recovery music studio - Transformations Treatment Center

Chance the Rapper had a quick rise to fame that destabilized him and made him vulnerable to addiction. But he is not alone. The very forces that inspire creative talent and drive a single-minded obsession with music can make an artist prone to addictive behavior. In the pressure-packed music industry, thousands of performing artists and entertainers wrestle with addiction and with mental health problems as they seek to deal with the stress, isolation and unpredictability of their careers. Some even begin to falsely believe that they cannot create or even function normally without drugs or alcohol. Transformations Treatment Center can help show entertainers a path forward.

At Transformations Treatment Center, we support those in the music and entertainment industry who aspire to clean and sober living without compromising their creativity. Our SoundPath Recovery is a music recording program that helps clients create new work while free of the grip of drugs and alcohol. SoundPath is integrated into the Partial Hospitalization Program, the Intensive Outpatient Program and our outpatient programs.

To learn more about SoundPath and its associated programs, contact us today at 877-736-2314 or through our online chat.

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Medically reviewed by: Dr. Rachel Needle

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