Why Addiction a Not a Muse

Why Addiction a Not a Muse

Many artists throughout history have claimed that drugs or alcohol served as their muse. For centuries, the relationship between drugs, alcohol and creativity has been a recurring and often tragic love affair. Writers, poets, actors, painters and myriad other artists have held to the hypothesis that mind-altering substances liberate their creative power by removing inhibitions and stimulating the central nervous system (CNS). Sadly, the muse many artists credited for breathing life into their art eventually killed them.

Several creative people who are alleged to have struggled with addiction and substance-abuse problems include the following:

  • Beethoven
  • Aldous Huxley
  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • Edgar Allen Poe
  • Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • Allen Ginsberg
  • Modest Mussorgsky
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Raymond Chandler
  • Eugene O’Neill
  • Edna St. Vincent Millay
  • Dorothy Parker
  • William Faulkner
  • Ernest Hemingway
  • Thomas Wolfe
  • John Steinbeck
  • Tennessee Williams

Addiction psychologists note that altering one’s state of consciousness is normal and that a destructive habit or addiction is mostly an unconscious strategy. It starts developing at a much earlier stage of life and is rooted in the same instinct that drives a desire for adventure and sex. When combined with other personality factors, which are largely genetically determined, risk of developing an addiction increases. Several characteristics of traits that artists may share which heighten vulnerability to addiction include the following:

  • Impulsive behavior, difficulty in delaying gratification, an antisocial personality and a disposition toward sensation seeking
  • A high value on nonconformity combined with a weak commitment to the goals for achievement valued by the society
  • A sense of social alienation and a general tolerance for deviance
  • A sense of heightened stress

Other similarities artistic people with addictive tendencies often share include the following:

  • Low self esteem
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Physical or sexual abuse
  • Sharply conflicting parental expectations

Inability to regulate one’s inner emotional world is at the core of a personality prone to addiction. Nobody is perfect, but some people struggle more than others to master basic life skills such as the following:

  • Regulating their feelings
  • Calming their own anxieties
  • Soothing their own minds
  • Comforting their own emotional wounds

In treatment, many of these people learn to take responsibility and function as emotionally autonomous adults. By getting sober, they actually increase their creativity and become more productive in their work.

Getting Help For Addiction

If you or someone you love struggles with addiction, we can help. Recovery counselors are available at our toll free 24 hour helpline to guide you through the transition from addiction to a drug-free life. Don’t go it alone. Please call today.