Creativity & Substance Abuse

History is replete with authors, painters and musicians who used (and often abused) alcohol and/or illicit drugs.  One might question the reason for this association.

First of all, it seems that creativity is associated with manic-depressive tendencies.  It is for this reason that writers, artists and musicians often experience prolific periods that alternate with episodes of inertia (e.g. writer's block).  As a result, they may resort to the use of stimulants to augment their productivity or rely on alcohol to assuage their depression.  On the other hand, alcohol and certain drugs tend to diminish our inhibitions and may enhance creativity; one might argue that the secondary honesty or unique perspective may play a significant role in the success of the work.

Of course, there is a fine line between use and abuse and history is also replete with creative artists who died young due to their dependence on drugs and/or alcohol.  In some cases, the pressures associated with celebrity lead to the abuse while, in others, the inability to meet personal or public expectations is the trigger.  Creativity, an advantage in many professions, can be a health risk.