Do Drugs Make You More Creative?

Approached by something truly creative, someone will inevitably say, “What kind of drugs was he taking?” I’ve heard this ever since I could remember, but I have always found it strange.

Do drugs really cause creativity?

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“I don’t do drugs. I am drugs.”

-Salvador Dali

There seems to be a clear connection between drugs and art style and creative people are more likely to use drugs , but the connection between narcotics and producing masterworks is hazy at best. Another study showed that artists used drugs to help regulate the emotions that crop up during the creative process.

In my own experience, drugs have only served as a dampener to creativity. I may feel euphoric, but I don’t do anything. When I do find the energy to create something, usually it is subpar at best.

I will confess that I haven’t tried any drugs that were not prescribed to me. The drug with the most euphoric effect I have taken is Xanax, but I don’t think that invalidates my argument.

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I don’t think screenwriting is therapeutic. It’s actually really, really hard for me. It’s not an enjoyable process.

-Charlie Kaufman

I don’t begrudge anyone that takes drugs for recreational purposes. Life is difficult. Creative people tend to be more emotional and have a harder time regulating that emotion, but the whole idea of taking drugs to “be more creative” sounds disingenuous.

Being creative consistently is difficult. The entire process is filled with doubt and fear. Most drugs dampen those feelings, but those feelings are necessary to create good work.

Without a healthy amount of fear, your work will be filled with embarrassing mistakes. The overall quality will drop and the pieces won’t be an accurate expression of yourself, but an expression of your current mind state.

How sustainable can this process be? Countless brilliant artists’ lives were cut short by this harmful creative process. You can take too many on drugs, but you can’t overdose on creativity.

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“We are all in search of feeling more connected to reality…We indulge in drugs or alcohol, or engage in dangerous sports or risky behavior, just to wake ourselves up from the sleep of our daily existence and feel a heightened sense of connection to reality. In the end, however, the most satisfying and powerful way to feel this connection is through creative activity. Engaged in the creative process we feel more alive than ever, because we are making something and not merely consuming, masters of the small reality we create.”

-Robert Greene

I want to feel something genuine. My whole attraction to art stems from that idea. Drugs aren’t a valid gateway to get the experiences that I crave. I want to be as present as possible and learn from my experiences.

That is Art to me. It is not novelty for novelty’s sake, but an expression of a human experience unique to the artist and simultaneously common to the species.

What do you think about the relationship between drugs and creativity?

Fireworks in My Head

I don’t like to write about this topic. Everyone has their own issues and they don’t need the added burden of mine. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) isn’t super rare, but we aren’t the type of people to stand out in the middle of the street and tell everyone about it.

My hope is that by writing honestly about it, that fewer people feel alone. The feeling of isolation is the worst part of the disease.

I was diagnosed with OCD when I was 18, but in hindsight there were signs of it very early in my life. I remember seeing a commercial on the Cartoon Network of Small Soldiers that deeply disturbed me. It is not unusual for a young child to be frightened by a movie, but it doesn’t go on for years.

That was my first brush with Intrusive Thoughts.

An “Intrusive Thought,” is an unwanted thought surrounding an action or image that the thinker finds horrifying. These thoughts can include suicide, murdering a family member, or something else that causes distress. The thinker doesn’t want to commit these acts, he is repulsed by them.

I would go through periods where the thoughts would be an issue, but not long enough for it to stop me from progressing through my life. When high school came around I also started to develop migraines, but we sorted it out through medication and chiropractic adjustments.

Things were looking up for me. I was dating a girl, I went to film school, and I worked freelance on a couple different films. However, the thoughts slowly crept in, taking more and more of time.

I’m aware that Intrusive Thoughts are irrational, unfounded, and outright ridiculous, but there is something enchanting about them. They seem more valid than your other, more measured thoughts.

I would liken them to fireworks. They shoot up in my mind’s eye and steal the show. Then it bursts with all the light, color, and spectacle, leaving me in the dark with the ash.

I finished film school without the girlfriend or the jobs. I feel like I’ve driven everyone way. I don’t want to hurt anyone. I know that I injure people either intentionally or unintentionally.

At some point, I just stopped trying. For two years I just stewed in my own little abyss.

Now, I’m trying again.