Why Are Artists Prone to Abusing Opiates?

Creative people process the world differently than others. Whether a person is a painter, a musician, a playwright, or a sculptor, he or she likely feels things on a slightly deeper level. This propensity towards deep feeling is great for the production of meaningful and powerful pieces of art – however, being an artist does have its downsides as well. Many famous artists have notoriously struggled with substance abuse and dependence.

Vincent Van Gogh is remembered as one of the most prolific and powerful painters in the world; however, he also struggled with mental illness, alcoholism, and drug addiction. Andy Warhol, one of the most famous pop artists of all time, struggled with severe anxiety and prescription drug addiction before his death in 1987, when he was only 58 years old. Famous musicians like Kurt Cobain and Jimi Hendrix lost their lives at the ripe age of 27 to heroin overdose. Many other artists, regardless of their chosen medium, tend to struggle with opiate abuse and addiction. But why are artists prone to abusing opiates? Is it simply because they feel things deeply, or is there more to the story?

Why are Artists Prone to Abusing Opiates?

Artists Using Opiates for Creativity

Personally, as a playwright, I believed (for quite some time) that to produce anything decent, I needed to be at least somewhat tortured. Certainly, a life of sobriety was not conducive to good writing – no, not at all. Many of the literary greats struggled with severe alcoholism, from F Scott Fitzgerald to Edgar Allen Poe, and everyone in between (as it so seemed).

I had written my best plays (according to me) while I was extremely drunk, and I couldn’t fathom writing anything worth reading while sober. This one of the biggest hurdles I faced when it came to getting clean. While my drug of choice was alcohol, many, many artists struggle with opiate addiction – an affliction that can lead to a more rapid demise, seeing as heroin and fentanyl have gained rampant popularity over the past several years. I sat down with a close friend, talented artist, and recovering opiate addict and asked him a few questions regarding his struggles with addiction.

Interview with an Opiate Addict

Me: Do you think that being an artist played a role in the development of your opiate addiction?

Sam S: I think I always kind of had a weird perspective, and I do think that I was in a lot of pain for a lot of reasons. I tried to channel that pain into my art, you know, but that didn’t always work. It was a coping mechanism at first, but when I was introduced to heroin everything changed for me. That became my primary coping mechanism.

Me: Did being an artist pose a challenge when it came to getting clean and sober?

Sam S: Yeah, it did. I was worried that if I got sober I wouldn’t have the same level of creativity. But honestly, the only thing that happened was my style of art changed. It became more optimistic, you know? Before it was all dark. But I honestly think that I improved as an artist.

Me: What would you suggest to an artist who is struggling to get sober?

Sam S: I would tell them not to worry! The struggle seems real, but it isn’t. If you are truly an artist in your soul, getting sober will have absolutely no impact on that fact.

Evoke Wellness – Thorough Addiction Recovery

At Evoke Wellness we work closely with men and women of all ages who have been struggling with opiate addiction. We understand that different people are going to face different challenges when it comes to getting and staying clean, and we work to thoroughly address all of these challenges while equipping our clients with the life skills they need to stay clean long-term. To learn more about our program of opiate addiction recovery, reach out to us today.

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