Addiction vs Creativity

By Alan Larsen 12/20/18

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.

Creativity can play an important role in recovering from addiction. Many people who become addicted to drugs or alcohol have alexithymia, a term that describes people who don’t understand what they’re feeling, how others feel or can’t put their feelings into words. Creative approaches such as art therapy, music therapy, and psychodrama allow people to express difficult thoughts, memories, and feelings without being constrained by words.

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 amazing pop star gets discovered while playing music at an open mic, reaches success, earns grammy’s and begins partying a little too hard. A few years down the road they are found disheveled in their 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.

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. Accepting that you may actually be exceptional is one of the most difficult parts 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.

Speaking as a professional musician, I 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. 

Music composition and songwriting have always been there as a healthy outlet for me to express myself. While exercising creativity clean & sober, I've personally come to find that it wasn't the drugs or alcohol that made it easier for me to tap into my creative side. It only acted as a numbing method to temporarily ease the process of facing the darker side of things that I've written music about. Once I found recovery and became willing and able to face and process these demons or darker sides of things while clean & sober, I realized that there is no limit to what the beautiful human mind, heart and soul can create or come up with.


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