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Do Drugs Make You More Creative?

People often associate drugs and creativity. Believing drugs make you more creative can be an impediment to recovery if you are an artist, musician, writer, director, designer, or some other creative professional. You don’t even have to be a professional for creative pursuits to be an important part of your life. There are easier ways to make money, but if creative expression is a source of personal fulfillment, you are likely to shun whatever threatens it.

To believe that drugs make you more creative is to mistake correlation for causation. That is to say, that just because many famous artists and musicians use drugs doesn’t mean they need drugs to be creative.

The more likely explanation is that people who are drawn to creative pursuits are also drawn to drugs and addiction. They are curious people who like to explore, even when exploration is risky. They are often dissatisfied with the world the way it is. They may be a little weird and have trouble forming strong social support networks. Even when they can, they might feel isolated or misunderstood. They often have vivid imaginations. This is generally a good thing, but it can sometimes make past or future horrors seem immediate and vivid. This can lead to anxiety and depression.

These traits–openness to experience, social isolation, anxiety, and depression–are all major risk factors for addiction. It’s hardly a surprise, then, that so many artists and musicians have also been addicts.

Although there may be artists who believe drugs give them a creative boost, addiction is more often an impediment. Consider Jimi Hendrix, for example. He’s an icon of ‘60s drug culture who died of an overdose. What made him great was not the drugs, but the thousands of hours of practice it took to master the guitar. Most people feel his music suffered badly because of his drug abuse and his early death deprived us of a lot of great music. You can’t create when you’re dead.

If you study any great artist, you find that she became great by working hard, consistently, for a long time. As Chuck Close famously said, “Inspiration is for amateurs–the rest of us just show up and get to work.” Whatever creative goose you think drugs give you, it is small compared to the cumulative results of daily effort. The nature of addiction is to demand your attention and take time and energy away from other parts of your life, including creativity. To do your best work, now and for years to come, you have to take care of yourself.

The good news for creative people is that creativity can be an asset in recovery. It can motivate you and be a means of expression. It can be a reason to stay in recovery. Gardens Wellness Center can show you how. Call us today at 844-828-1050 or email us at