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Up In Smoke: Weed, Social Media and Irreparable Vocal Cord Damage

11:29 AM PDT 6/9/2016 by Kara Mayer Robinson

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Miley Cyrus and Rihanna are just a few celebrities sharing their weed toking selfies on Instagram — but what long-term impact does the act have on their money-making voices? We investigate.

It’s becoming ubiquitous: A celebrity proclaims his affinity for marijuana by posting an image of himself surrounded by a halo of smoke on social media.

Miley Cyrus posted this on Instagram :

Here’s one from Rihanna:

Sometimes a pot proclamation comes in the form of a tweet, like this one from Wiz Khalifa :

Hit this kk and become yourself.

( Sidenote : This tweet sparked a spat between Khalifa and Kanye West, who misinterpreted ” kk ” as Kim Kardashian , when it actually meant Khalifa Kush .)

An herb allegiance is one thing for, say, Seth Rogen , whose raspy voice and stoner image are part of the package. But if your career depends on your prodigal pipes, is toking a savvy move? What does it do to your vocal cords?

“It can be devastating,” says Dr. Joseph Sugerman , an ear, nose and throat doctor who treats top vocalists and whose office is lined with gold and platinum albums from Barbra Streisand , Paul Stanley and Steven Tyler. “You can’t have hot smoke hitting the vocal cords. It makes them swell and reduces their range.”

Swelling hinders vibration, which can make a voice raspy, hoarse and tough to control. So if Justin Bieber, for example, gets high leading up to a performance, he may have trouble reaching certain notes and his voice may fatigue sooner than usual.

But will a subpar performance here and there end a career?

It’s a tough call. Marijuana smokers can sustain irreversible damage. “It’s just like smoking cigarettes. It’s temporary at first, but over a period of time the thickening becomes more permanent,” says Sugerman . “If you listen to Frank Sinatra’s voice when he was in his 20s or 30s , it’s entirely different than when he was in his 50s and 60s.”

OK, even with damage, some vocalists thrive.

But others — Courtney Love, perhaps? — face complications that foil a rebound, like developing nodular polyps that need surgery. “Nowadays most surgeries are very effective,” says Dr. Randy Schnitman , a Beverly Hills ear, nose and throat doctor who treats multiplatinum recording artists. But Schnitman says there’s no guarantee it’ll restore the voice. Then there’s the risk of throat cancer — it’s likely carcinogenic, after all.

Cocaine can be a disaster too. Snorting it can damage nasal passages, which leads to throat complications. Smoking it is an even hotter mess. “It’s a hot, thermal burn as well as a chemical burn and can be very caustic to the lining of the throat and to the vocal cords,” says Schnitman .

Sugerman says pros who’ve been around long enough know smoking can destroy their voice, so they avoid it. But as social media suggests, not everyone heeds their docs’ advice.

Some pop stars with a penchant for pot leap into a loophole: They stamp out the blunt and sink their teeth into an edible.

Up In Smoke: Weed, Social Media and Irreparable Vocal Cord Damage 11:29 AM PDT 6/9/2016 by Kara Mayer Robinson FACEBOOK TWITTER EMAIL ME Miley Cyrus and Rihanna are just

Is Marijuana Good For My Singing Voice?

Hello, we have a little bit of a problem here because our lead singer seems to think that smoking pot does not in any way affect his singing voice. Can you please let me know if this is true?

We all have tried to tell him that it does affect your voice and that he needs to “can it” but he seems to constantly battle the question and says that we don’t know his voice like he does, and that smoking does not affect his singing in any way….Will you please help me out with this and set this straight for me?

Answer:

Without dealing with the political and moral implications at hand, I’ll attempt to give a concise, effectual answer pertaining to vocal health only. Unrelated side effects of ingesting cannabis or inhaling smoke or vapor derivatives are outside the scope of this Q&A.

Some of the commonly known side effects of smoking marijuana are sleepiness, reduced ability to perform tasks requiring concentration and coordination, dry mouth and throat and memory and speaking impairments. While smoking pot will relax an otherwise “up tight” individual, lethargy is not a desired state of being for any singer that cares about intonation or vocal coordination. Simply put, when you are tired or feeling lazy you are less likely to sing in tune or accurately blend in and out of your registers. Middle or high notes in the mix will be harder to coordinate for most cannabis junkies. A solid performing voice needs a steady amount of high vocal energy. Obviously it’s an uphill battle for anyone feeling the extreme high of inhaling marijuana smoke.

Being high can also make a person feel as if they’re singing the performance of a lifetime yet the audience will attest to pitchy, out of control vocals. It’s a subtle, subjective self-deception that things are sounding better than they really are, very similar to singing while intoxicated. Some singers also report an incredible excitement to performing music while high on marijuana. However, they experience decreased interest and increased difficulty in performing while NOT influenced by pot. In other words, musicians potentially can become apathetic towards their music unless they are high.

Paranoia is another common experience for “pot-heads” everywhere. In a positive light, it can lead to a very interesting vocal performance of a singer who might otherwise be boring to watch. There’s no denying that many musicians do feel more creative while under the influence, hence its popularity in the music industry sub-culture; something this article will indeed fail to change.

Overall, one of the most glaring problems with smoking pot is the dehydration of the body during and after a smoke. Specifically the mouth and throat can become severely dry with symptoms of cottonmouth, an uncomfortable feeling of dryness in the mouth. With any logic, one can see that a dry mouth and throat means a dehydrated set of vocal folds. In my experience as a vocal coach, I’ve seen two notable tours cancelled because of the lead singer (no names mentioned…) smoking marijuana and losing his voice because of the consistent singing on a dehydrated voice. Dehydration affects most Americans already and it’s not helpful to engage in activity that exacerbates the problem. For some singers no amount of water can rehydrate a voice in this state.

To answer your question fully, your lead singer might not feel the effects of his pot use due to self-deception or even his artificial excitement created by “being high”, but you can probably agree that the band isn’t playing four headlining shows a week, radio tours in the morning and a lack of sleep due to a crazy tour schedule. Needless to say, smoking marijuana is not a good option for the serious performer in today’s music scene.

Is Marijuana Good For My Singing Voice? Hello, we have a little bit of a problem here because our lead singer seems to think that smoking pot does not in any way affect his singing voice. Can