Have you noticed that there are many creative types who tend to struggle with addiction? It is a common misconception that substance use fosters creativity and that those creative juices will stop flowing once the drugs and alcohol are no longer available. This simply is not the case.
Addiction can kill creativity, but addiction recovery can help you resurrect your creative side.
Is There a Link Between Creativity and Addiction?
It may seem that, since some famous creative people have succumbed to addiction, there must be a correlation between creativity and substance use disorders.
When you consider the fate of people such as Amy Winehouse, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin, it appears as if these people used addictive substances to tap into their creative genius. The truth is that this is just a list of a few people among millions who have developed a substance use disorder over the past several decades.
In trying to answer the question of whether there is a link between creativity and addiction, Scientific American spoke with author and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine neuroscientist David Linden. Linden stated that there is instead a link between addiction and the things that are required for creativity. One is the desire and the drive to feel pleasure.
While there is no single gene for addiction, some people come from creative families. Some individuals also have a genetic makeup that gives them a lower functioning dopamine system, which lends a person to more risk-taking and compulsive behavior. It is these drives that can be a catalyst for creativity as well as addiction.
What Happens to Creativity in Addiction Recovery?
Contrary to popular belief, creativity does not disappear when the alcohol and drugs are no longer available. Your genetic makeup remains the same, so the drive to take risks creatively is still there. While there is always the risk of a return to substance use, you can build a strong support network and do other things to foster creativity in addiction recovery.
According to Psychology Today, there are several ways that addiction recovery supports creativity. Among them are:
- Pathways to healing: Being creative while also abstaining from drug and alcohol use is one of the best ways to work through feelings of loss, shame and guilt. In other words, it heals instead of suppresses emotions.
- Regulates emotions: Speaking of emotions, creativity can give you new ways to connect with and channel emotions, which can reduce your stress levels.
- Supports other interests: Creativity can also help support and reduce stress in other areas of your life, such as at work or home.
- Creates more fulfilling experiences: Some artists become fully immersed in the creative process. This can be difficult to sustain when dealing with a substance use disorder. With recovery, you have a fresh opportunity to let those creative juices flow and be more fulfilled in your artistic pursuits.
If you or any of your loved ones are struggling with a substance use disorder, there is compassionate and qualified help available. Contact The Recovery Village now to learn more about the ways comprehensive addiction treatment programs can help you break free from harmful substances and tap into your innate creativity.
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.