Creativity and Addiction

addiction and creativityCreative artists of every variety are unique, talented people. Noncreative people can only marvel at the creative capacity of artists and the mystique that surrounds them. However, this interpretive, impulsive personality comes with its problems as well. Artists are far more likely to experience addiction problems than most other professions. Similarly, a majority of people who check into rehab are qualified as creative types. Addicts are boundary pushers, a quality that can be used for good and for bad depending on how they choose to channel their energy.
Interestingly, addicts and high-functioning individuals have been found to have very similar brain types, and artists are no exception. Becoming successful at anything, particularly a creative craft, requires the willingness and the ability to be somewhat obsessed with the craft and the process of perfecting it. This is also true of other highly effective people, such as doctors, CEOs and attorneys. High functioning, creative people such as artists are often prone to addiction because artistry and addiction are two different methods of seeking extreme immersion into something. Artistry is an exacting vocation, one that requires immersion into something through hard work, and addiction gives a person the same feelings of immersion without the work. Addiction is a type of false fulfillment, a way of tricking the brain into thinking it is being immersed into something rewarding, where as a craft such as creativity offers the true form of freedom through immersion.
Whether or not an artist will devote themselves completely to their craft or be distracted by the allure of something addictive depends heavily on their behavioral, psychological, emotional and environmental circumstances. Any one of these influences can change the outcome of someone’s personal battle with or recovery from addiction. There is also the critical element of choice. Artists who choose a life of perfecting their craft are consistently rewarded for their efforts where as artists who get sucked into an addiction often destroy their craft. There are addiction treatment programs created specifically for artists, staffed by professionals who are trained in counseling the creative mind.