A lot of people rely on drugs to help them overcome their stage fright. In most cases, these are beta-blockers, but you've surely heard of the occasional rockstar who self-medicates with liberal doses of alcohol (or stronger drugs).
Now, there is real value in using drugs to manage anxiety - there are severe cases where drugs are an absolute necessity.
But, for the vast majority of the population, drugs are not only unnecessary to overcome stage fright, they can be downright dangerous.
Let's examine a few reasons you wouldn't want to rely on drugs to help you deal with stage fright.
1. What If You Get Caught Without Them?
Of course, when you are about to perform on stage, you are well-prepared. You have gone through your presentation fifty times and triple-checked that you have everything in your briefcase.
Yet, it's so easy to get caught up in the moment and forget something small, and what do you do if that something small is your stage fright medication?
Then you're up on stage, in front of five hundred eager listeners, and can't do much more than stand in panic, eyes wide open, stuttering through your material.
You need a reliable way to overcome stage fright, one that doesn't depend on drugs. That also brings me to my next point.
2. They Are Unpredictable
Some might shrug off my previous point, but the thing with drugs is that you often develop a tolerance.
And, they have the nasty habit of refusing to work when you need them the most. Of course, you could solve that by upping the dosage, but then you're gambling with your health. Thing is: Although people use beta blockers to deal with stage fright, they are heart medication and not designed to treat anxiety.
Side effects can include fatigue, cold hands, upset stomach, and other unpleasantries. Not to mention, they can put a strain on your wallet.
3. They Are Expensive
Beta blockers cost anywhere from $10 to $200 a month - because they're used as heart medication, they can become quite pricey.
And even though you might not use that many at once, you have to factor in shelf life. Even then, the fact that there's a drug-free alternative should make you wary of dropping money on them.
4. They Dull Your Performance
Stage fright can be helpful in making a performance more exciting.
Researchers came up with the "Inverted-U" hypothesis to explain this phenomenon.
Generally speaking, when you have too much stage fright, you cannot effectively channel the excess energy. Instead, you start trembling, stuttering, forgetting your material...
But, when you're not excited at all, your performance suffers because it becomes boring. You are only trying get it over with, which often leaves your audience unsatisfied.
But there is a middle ground, where you're excited enough that you want to be on stage and give the best presentation you can, yet not so nervous you end up with stage fright that leaves you unable to perform.
The end result will be much better, but it's hard to achieve that level of excitement when you're artificially calming yourself down (like you do with drugs). That brings me to my last point.
5. They Are Unnecessary
There is a way to harness that energy and channel it without chemicals.
It consists of changing your self-talk and becoming more used to situations where people can potentially judge you, as they can when you perform on stage.
This is the gist the 2-step process you follow in therapy:
You uncover the reason why you think the way you do about certain things.
For example, if you're afraid of going on stage because nobody will like your material, you will replace these thoughts with something like, "It's okay if not everybody likes my material. In fact, that is perfectly normal. I haven't liked every single presentation I heard either, so I can't except everybody else to like mine."
That takes the pressure off the unreasonable expectations.
Then, you expose yourself to similar situations, in a structured way.
That might mean performing for only your best friend, then for a group of five, all the way until you feel comfortable during your exam at music school.
It's a straightforward approach, used in therapy around the world, with spectacular results.
No drugs necessary.