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Addiction and the Arts: Why Creatives Struggle More with Substance Abuse

You might think that creatives—people who express themselves through art, writing, music, and photo—would be less prone to substance abuse than the average person. After all, these activities are all about expressing oneself artistically and communicating with others, right? Wrong. Many creative professionals struggle with substance abuse more than the average person.

This may come as a surprise, since being creative is often thought of as a way to escape reality or relieve stress. But the truth is that many creatives need to use alcohol, drugs, and other substances in order to create their best work. This article will explore why creative professionals are more likely to struggle with substance abuse, and what you can do if you’re struggling, too.

What Does “Creative” Mean, Anyway?

The word “creative” has been unfairly generalized to mean “ artistically inclined.” In fact, there are a variety of different types of creative people, and not all of them have a problem with substance abuse. Many creatives are successful professionals who use their skills to earn a living.

 Others may be experiencing life stressors that cause them to turn to drugs and alcohol as a way to deal with the anxiety or depression those stresses caused. And some may use drugs or alcohol simply to “open up” or be more “creative” than others. There’s no one type of artist that’s more likely to struggle with substance abuse than another.


Artistic Integrity is Important to Creatives

Many creative people are passionate advocates for integrity in all forms of art. They believe that without strict artistic principles to guide them, artists may produce work that’s “good” but not “great.” And great work is what most people—and, particularly, artists and art collectors—are looking for. Great art may be very abstract, but it’s still recognizable as such. Great art conveys a specific emotion or message, and those feelings and messages are what matter. 

Substance abuse may affect an artist’s ability to create great work, but it won’t change the quality or greatness of their art. And if you’re struggling with addiction, seeking help is the responsible thing to do.

Creative Types are More Likely to Experience Mental Health Issues

Because of the way their brains work, many creative people struggle with certain mental health issues. These issues may include anxiety, depression, OCD, ADHD, and an inability to “turn off” the creative mind. People who don’t experience normal levels of these “mental illnesses” often turn to drugs and alcohol to self-medicate and deal with the issues that come with being creative. 

Those with co-occurring mental health issues and substance abuse often experience more intense symptoms than those with one or the other condition alone. Coexisting issues like these often go undiagnosed and untreated, which can make them much harder to get rid of once you know what’s causing them.

Creative Types are More Likely to Abuse Drugs and Alcohol

Part of the reason people with mental health issues are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol is that these substances can create a physical effect that helps them deal with the issues that cause them. For instance, alcohol may encourage people to socialize and interact with others, while drugs may calm the nerves or help people sleep. 

These are all important for creative people to stay healthy and happy, but they won’t create great art. Instead, these substances will dampen your creativity and decrease your productivity. They may even make it hard for you to see signs of addiction in yourself or know where to get help.

alcohol and opioids

Creative Types are Less Likely to Seek Help

While many types of people are hesitant to seek help for substance abuse issues, the opposite is true for creatives. Once they’re aware that they have a problem, creatives are more likely than other people to seek help. This could be because they’re worried they won’t be able to write, draw, or compose creative work without using substances. Or it could be that creative careers are more important to them than material wealth. In any case, when creatives finally do seek help, they’re often very successful at overcoming their substance use. This is likely due in part to the fact that they have a deep sense of self-awareness and self-determination.

Oasis Recovery is Here for You

Being creative is a wonderful and important part of human nature. But it’s important to remember that creativity comes with a significant risk of substance abuse. This article will explore why this is, and what you can do if you’re struggling with it, too.

If you feel that you or a loved one may be struggling with substance abuse, you are not alone. Substance abuse and addiction can affect anyone. If you or a loved one are currently struggling with addiction, help is available! We encourage you to reach out to the professionals at Oasis Recovery to learn more about our personalized treatment programs and mental health services.

 Oasis Recovery was founded from firsthand experience of addiction and recovery, with a mission of providing a space where people can heal from addiction in a compassionate, creative, open-minded, and heart-centered environment. We believe recovery is always possible. Our experts work with you to design a treatment plan that fits your needs. Common treatment programs include:

  • Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP)
  • Full-time Addiction Treatment on campus
  • Aftercare Services

Contact us today for more information about how our programs and services can help you get your life back on track. You no longer have to struggle with addiction on your own. We are here to help. 

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