By: Astharte De Los Santos
How many times have we witnessed the demise of a great artist due to drug or alcohol abuse? An icon fallen due to their hard-partying ways but why do so many people who have artistic inclinations gravitate towards drug use.
Is creativity somehow at fault for creating dependency? Why do most rock stars fall victim to addiction? Or to get even deeper how about the grungy teen who likes algebra but also has a thing for meth? Why is it so common to hear about creative and innovative people, fall victim to drug use?
The Pursuit Of Creativity
Does the creative mind have some sort of void that can only be filled by altering the consciousness?
Or can we say that if creativity is not expressed, it can lead somebody to drug use?
How important is it to express your creativity, in order to lead a fulfilling life?
Actually, I found it to be quite important to self-reflect, assess yourself and pursue your creative hobbies. This should be an integral part of your lifestyle. For instance, I have always kept a journal since I was a child and would love getting lost in my stories as a teen.
So creativity has been something that I’ve been struggling to make use of since then.
All throughout my life, my creativity in a way has been like an escape. A little place of my own where I can make stories.
Then I reached a point in my life where I stopped writing. Where I wasn’t inspired anymore. I was in a dark place. I used my favorite vices to calm the need within to write but couldn’t.
Then I took a chance! I began getting involved in my college newspaper like I always have. There I had an audience. There I had an identity Ms no name. It was an amazing experience to be able to write poetry and short stories about HIV awareness, self-esteem and the importance of education.
Creativity was at its high because I continued to stimulate it. I did this by pushing myself to write and by addressing issues that college students may be going through. By embracing feedback and accepting that I may good.
Accepting that you may good is the toughest part of expressing your creative talents. There is a lot of uncertainty in creating, what may look or sound good to you, may look and sound different to somebody else.
I will take a risk and conclude that everybody deals with their creativity differently. Some people share theirs, others don’t. Some profit off it, others share it with their loved ones. Although everybody can create or express some sort of creative talent, there are just some people who are exceptional at what they create. The way they do it is unique and they must have an audience.
The most obvious tie to creativity and addiction are musicians. These are the most common stories of creative people falling victim to drugs. The story usually goes like this: Young beautiful pop star gets discovered while playing music at an open mic, she reaches success, earns grammy’s and begins partying a little too hard. A few years down the road she is found disheveled in her apartment dead from an apparent overdose.
It’s sad but true most musicians struggle with addiction. Some make it to recovery and some don’t make it at all but there sure is a tie between the creative mind and addiction.
The Fall Of Amy Winehouse
Amy Winehouse, one of the most soulful, modern jazz artist of our generation. Who managed to stand out with her unique tone of voice. The full of spunk singer was born on September 14, 1983, in London, England to two blue collar, parents who worked hard to raise her in the suburbs.
Her childhood was full of jazz music and a few of her uncles from her mother’s side were professional jazz musicians. So expressing her creativity was something natural. So it wasn’t much of a surprise when she became a singer. At age 16, she caught her big break when a friend passed on her demo, to someone looking for a jazz vocalist. Her debut album, Frank, earned her respect and admiration amongst her colleagues.
The album also went double platinum and won numerous awards. Like the Brit Awards where she won best female solo artist and best urban act. She also earned an Ivor Novello award for one of my favorite single of her’s “Stronger than me” but it wasn’t until 2006 that she reached international acclaim.
That same year her management suggested she’d enter rehab for alcohol abuse. She refused and out of that came her smashing single “rehab” which put her at the top ten hits in the U.k, from her critically acclaimed album Back to Black. Already you can see the signs of an artist who is struggling with addiction.
It is sad but Amy Winehouse was also said to be using drugs. She lived a life of excess and hard partying but is her creativity to blame for all the chaos that surrounded her, right at her peak moment of fame. Or can we say that her environment was to blame for drug and alcohol abuse? After attempts to get sober and make a comeback, Amy’s stage presence just wasn’t the same.
Her frail skinny image mirrored, a fallen songstress victim to drugs and alcohol. Her tumultuous relationship with her husband Blake Fielder- Civil, didn’t help her either. She was also arrested numerous times and because of her conduct and erratic behavior. Sadly one day, she went too far. She died tragically on July 23, 2011, of accidental alcohol poisoning at only 27 years old.
Was her creativity to blame for the instability in her life?
How Does The Creative Brain Work?
Aristotle once noted: “Those who have been eminent in philosophy, politics, poetry and the arts have all had tendencies towards melancholia”.
I can relate to these words. I have times where I am wrapped up in ideas and my mood can be a bit down. It’s hard to break away from having creative thoughts. At times creativity is your friend because it allows you to see a world more interesting than the existing one. Then it can become a burden when you can see what you want to do but can’t quite achieve it to perfection. So it becomes your life.
What Is Creativity?
Creativity is defined by the ability to take traditional ideas, rules, patterns or notions and have the ability to interpret them in your own way through new forms, methods, interpretations, and originality.
It is characterized by a defining trait in someone’s personality, it is the way they think naturally about the world. Creative thinking requires complex cognition, organizational skills, and time management. A creative person that is under stress won’t be able to create as best as they would want to.
Some studies even suggest that if you have less of certain neurological phenomena, you are more creative. Certain chemicals in the brain, froth about in smaller dosages. While white matter sits weaker and the frontal lobe’s cortical regions are thinner. Interestingly, brain testing on people with high IQ’s shows the exact opposite composition.
How Do Creativity And Addiction Relate?
The Scientific Journal spoke with neuroscientist David Linden of John Hopkins University School of Medicine.
When asked if there was a link between creativity and addition he explained:
“No. I think the link is not between creativity and addiction per se. There is a link between addiction and things which are a prerequisite for creativity…. We know that 40 percent of a predisposition to addiction is genetically determined, via studies on heritability in families and twins. There’s no single addiction gene. We don’t even know all the genes involved in conferring addiction risk”.
This statement is very interesting. It allowed me to see a different perspective on creativity and addiction. It’s great to be able to see it another way but I still believe that the creative mind is more vulnerable to addictive behavior, especially during artistic frustration. Or an artist who has experimented with drugs, to test the depth of their creativity and only wound up with an addiction.
In order to live a fulfilling life thriving from your creativity, an artist must dedicate themselves to becoming better. It takes initiative when you want to reach a goal and the goal should be to share the beauty of your talents with others. Commitment is key to bringing forth your art, if you cannot commit to finishing one project, then you might as well not have begun. Networking is key you must get out there and meet people with your interest. Talk about what you do and ways you can make money. Most importantly, believe in yourself this is essential. Or else others may perceive your lack of confidence and agree!
If you or anybody is struggling with addiction, please do not hesitate. Get some help. It may be crucial for your well-being. A sober life is a life of freedom.
Would you like to express your creativity?
There are many support groups set up by hospitals and organizations that may be able to help. One thing I did was join meetups.com. Now I share my poetry in open mics and readings. There are all types of categories with one common goal, getting people together with the same interests and exercising your creativity, collectively.
People struggling to find themselves by living creatively, often face much adversity. If you or anyone is struggling with addiction to drugs, get help. So many lives have been lost to drug abuse. You must act quickly because your next low can steer you into addiction, possibly even death.