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Published On: Wed, Sep 5th, 2018

The Correlation Between Artists and Alcohol and Drug Abuse: Does Creativity and Substance Abuse Go Hand-in-Hand?

Art is a beautiful thing. It is the ultimate form of expression and it is exactly what separates humans from any other organism on Earth. We, humans, are empathetic beings and we can both feel and evoke emotions through art. These moments of brilliance will always be remembered, as will the authors, artists, and songwriters who created them. But let’s be real here.

Many of these artists have, in one form or another, abused alcohol, drugs, or even both. So, this begs the question whether there is indeed a connection between creativity and a tendency for substance abuse—along with the dangers that come with becoming addicted to them. Do they truly make you more talented and creative?

The poets of the 17th and 18th century were known to have used drugs. Artists of the 19th century were also known to use absinthe, a (now legal in the US) hallucinatory alcoholic drink.  And even key authors of our time have been known to use drugs. Stephen King, an author of some of the best-selling horror and fiction series has been known to have used drugs heavily in his early career.

Some of Stephen King’s most well-regarded works were written under the influence of drugs. Fans point to the The Dark Tower series, particularly, The Gunslinger, The Drawing of the Three, the Wastelands, and the Wizard and the Glass are some of his finest works, and fans have suggested, however darkly, that his addictions played a part in the depth of texture he was able to create for these worlds.

In contrast, the last three books of the series, The Wolves of the Calla, The Song of Susannah, and The Dark Tower were written after his struggle with drugs and alcohol. Many fans considered these three last books a disappointment when compared to the first four books.

But on the other hand, Stephen King as a person maintains that his personal and emotional life was never better than after he got clean. As a sober creator, he has exploded onto the television screen with multiple, well-regarded series. For him, getting clean was also a redemption story for his career. He found out, he could have it both ways: A life he could remember, and creative success.

photo “Tbone” by AB via wikimedia commons

Do drugs and alcohol help make you more creative? Not exactly, they can make you feel good and they can encourage the mind go to places it otherwise wouldn’t go without the influence of these substances.

But the truth is that while drugs can lead you to explore things differently, they do not make a creative mind. The talent and skill must be there to begin with. Put plainly, these substances do not make you creative, but they do enhance what creativity you already have.

However, this fact does not overshadow the reality of drug and alcohol addiction. It’s at the point of needing a drug, even for just creative stimulation, where the individual becomes dependent on the drug in order to function. At this point, the mind no longer uses the drug to enhance itself, but rather, the drug becomes the user.

Each individual has different levels of resistance to drug addiction. One cannot pre-determine whether one is prone to addiction or not. However, what one can be assured of is that there are ways to treat drug addiction. It’s important to learn more about drug rehabilitation in order to be aware of the remedies and treatments that are available for anyone who suffers from drug addiction.

To conclude this article. Yes, drugs can enhance your ability to think, but no, they do not grant you talent. I guess, you can say that giving drugs to someone who doesn’t have any talent whatsoever is like giving a turtle afterburners. It wouldn’t make much of a difference in terms of true creativity.

Author: Vaan is a Psychology Major who is also an aspiring lawyer. He has about 15 years of writing experience and a passion for all things Law, Psychology, Sociology, Technology, and Fashion-related. When he isn’t typing away on his computer, he spends his time lifting at the local gym, honing his skills in Muay Thai, reading a good book, or shopping for the latest hyped-up sneakers.

About the Author

- Outside contributors to the Dispatch are always welcome to offer their unique voices, contradictory opinions or presentation of information not included on the site.

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