Can Creativity Be Harmed By Drugs?

The idea that drugs and alcohol are necessary for the creative process is popular, but it is also controversial. On the one hand, many notable figures in history were heavy drinkers or drug users and produced great works of art while under the influence. Also, there is no real evidence to suggest that drugs and alcohol improve creativity. 

Many people find that they are less creative when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. So while it may be true that some great artists have used drugs or alcohol, it is also true that many great artists have not. 

There is no clear answer to whether drugs and alcohol are necessary for the creative process. However, what is certain is that drug and alcohol abuse can harm creativity and prevent you from reaching your full potential as an artist.

This article will explore the myth about creativity and drug use and show that you don't need to use drugs to be creative.

Are Drugs and Alcohol Necessary for Creativity?

To explore this topic, let's look at some of history's most famous creative minds. Did they use drugs to get their great ideas?

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Take, for example, the writer Oscar Wilde. He was known for his heavy use of absinthe. But was it absinthe that helped him create his masterpieces? Or did it simply provide him with an escape from the banality of everyday life? We may never know for sure. 

Another notable figure is the painter Vincent van Gogh. Many have speculated about whether he may have used drugs to enhance his creativity or not. Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer, as van Gogh's letters offer conflicting accounts. In some instances, he appears to be quite critical of those who use drugs, while in others, he seems to experiment with them himself. 

While some cases might be unclear, the reality is that drugs and alcohol do little or nothing to boost creativity. In fact, they can have a negative impact as they make it hard to focus or may lead to impulsive decisions that can ruin a work of art. Drugs can also cause mood swings that make it hard to maintain the consistency necessary for a successful creative project. 

Scientists have been able to objectively assess the effects of drugs on measures of creativity, and here are some results.

LSD

Researchers from Okinawa Institute used functional neuroimaging methods to assess the effects of LSD on creativity. The findings revealed that LSD: 

·     Reduces the capability to appreciate cause and effect  

·     Induces decreased restraint in the brain

·     Inhibits the ability to categorize, organize and tell apart the components of conscious experience

According to the findings, brain activity may trigger novel perceptions, but the capacity to apply these perceptions to come up with new concepts is impaired.

Cannabis

Researchers from Leiden University assessed the effects of cannabis on creativity. They administered 22mg of THC to participants and tested creativity by applying convergent (Remote Associate Task) and divergent (Alternate Uses Task) tests to the volunteers. They noted that the placebo and lower dose groups didn't experience any effect on their divergent thinking or creativity. On the other hand, the high-dose groups experienced a decrease in divergent thinking.

Alcohol

study in Sweden found that the consumption of alcohol lowered the fluency of idea generation when matched to that of a control group. Another study indicated that creative writers had less idea flexibility but increased the number of non-obvious original ideas. Yet another study showed that alcohol had no clear effect on divergent thinking. However, the study participants said their performance was more creative when they believed they had received alcohol.

Why do Creatives Resort to Drugs and Alcohol?

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The constant pressure to churn out new ideas can place high stress on artists and lead to burnout. There's an ever-growing need for fresh content, and creative minds are working extra hard to keep up with the demand. 

In most cases, they feel overwhelmed and turn to drugs to improve their creative output. They do so to try to curb symptoms of burnout like:

·       Fatigue

·       Bad mood

·       Physical and mental exhaustion 

·       Losing interest in creative work

·       Confusion and overwhelm

·       Mind fog

The problem is that drugs can hurt creativity. Long-term use can lead to health complications too. For example, one may develop a tolerance, drug dependence, or even substance use disorders. Attempts to quit may end with withdrawal symptoms, etc. Higher doses may also cause life-threatening symptoms or even death. 

How Drugs Can Harm Creativity - Research Findings

Drugs and alcohol can have a profound effect on your creativity. Substance abuse can:

·       Cause mental health problems like anxiety and depression, which can, in turn, make it difficult to be creative. In some cases, mental health issues can drive creatives to abuse substances.

·       Hamper creativity by impairing cognitive function and disrupting normal brain activity. They affect the parts of the brain that are responsible for creativity, making it more difficult to come up with new ideas. 

·       Make it difficult to focus and concentrate, both of which are essential for being creative. 

·       Cause tolerance and dependence, which can lead to life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.

·       Lead to addiction, which can destroy relationships, damage careers, and lead to financial ruin. 

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Drug abuse is a dangerous habit that can have devastating consequences for creative people. So if you're looking to tap into your creative side, it's important to be mindful of how drugs and alcohol might be affecting you.

How to Maintain Your Creativity without Resorting To Drugs

To maintain your creativity without resorting to drugs, you need to find a healthy outlet for your ideas and impulses. 

1.    A good place to start is by journaling. Taking the time to write down your thoughts can help you sort through them and figure out which ones are worth pursuing. 

2.    You can also try brainstorming with friends or colleagues. Brainstorming can help you get feedback on your ideas, and it can also give you a chance to explore new ideas. 

3.    Additionally, it's important to make time for creative activities that you enjoy, such as painting, photography, or writing. Doing things that you love will help to keep your creative juices flowing. 

4.    Finally, don't be afraid to take risks with your ideas. Trying new things can take your imagination to a whole new level.

While it might be true that drugs and alcohol temporarily boost creativity, the long-term effects are often disastrous. In fact, many studies have shown that drug abuse harms creativity more than it helps. If you're struggling with drug addiction and want to maintain your creative output, please reach out for help. MoreThanRehab can plug you into the right addiction treatment so you can get the care you need and start rebuilding your life.

Stuck In A Loop: When Hallucinogens Cause Cyclical Behavior or HPPD

There are instances when individuals who abuse hallucinogenic drugs like MDMA (ecstasy), psilocybin (also called magic mushroom), and LSD experience the effects several weeks, months, and even years after abusing the drug. These effects are commonly referred to as flashbacks and are prevalent in people suffering from HPPD (Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder).

This article will discuss HPPD in detail. We will look at what HPPD is, its symptoms, causes, and treatment.

What is HPPD?

Simply put, HPPD refers to the visual disturbances that hallucinogenic drug users experience long after using the drugs. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, visual disturbances range from bright circles and size distortion to blurry patterns.

People suffering from HPPD only experience flashbacks. They do not re-experience any other feeling of being high on the drugs they consumed before.

HPPD flashbacks are annoying, especially if they happen frequently. Although the flashbacks aren’t necessarily full hallucinations, they may result in mental health problems like anxiety.

Scientists argue that HPPD hallucinations are pseudo hallucinations, and those who experience them can differentiate what is real from what isn’t.

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What do flashbacks feel like?

People who experience flashbacks feel like they are reliving something they experienced in the past. Some flashbacks happen after drug use, while others happen after one undergoes a traumatic experience, i.e., post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  

Both people with HPPD and PTSD experience moments when their sensory information tells them they are experiencing moments they experienced in the past, even though they aren’t.

With PTSD, the flashbacks are more vivid. On the other hand, flashbacks of those with HPPD are not in-depth. HPPD victims only experience visual snows.

If you suffer from HPPD, you will be aware of the flashbacks but won’t experience the high that the drugs you used before gave you. Note that these flashbacks may become frequent over time and can overwhelm you.

Symptoms

The 2016 review revealed that there are two types of HPPD; type one and type 2. Those who suffer from type 1 HPPD only experience brief flashbacks, while those that suffer from type 2 HPPD experience more intense flashbacks.

If you suffer from unwanted hallucinations or cyclical behaviors, you are likely to experience any of the following visual disturbance symptoms of HPPD.

  1. Color flashes- you may notice random flashes of color at random times.
  2. Intense colors- the colors of objects around you seem brighter.
  3. Color confusion- you may be unable to tell the difference between similar colors. For instance, you wouldn’t be able to tell maroon and red apart.
  4. When you stare at objects, you see a glowing halo around them.
  5. Objects may appear bigger or smaller than they are.
  6. You may notice patterns on various objects when in reality, the object does not have any patterns on it.
  7. Items or objects may appear to leave a trail behind them as they move.
  8. You may have a difficult time reading since words on screens or pages appear to be in motion.
  9. You may feel uneasy every time you have an episode since you know that what you are experiencing is not real.

Currently, there is no scientific explanation of when these symptoms manifest. Therefore they can happen to you at any time.

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People experiencing HPPD may also experience mental health issues, including anxiety, panic disorders whose common symptom is increased heart rate and heavy breathing, suicidal thoughts, and symptoms of depersonalization. Despite most people suffering from the disorder acknowledging that they experience these symptoms, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders does not acknowledge them as possible symptoms. The diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders only acknowledges the visual disturbances symptoms we discussed above because it is still unclear whether HPPD directly causes mental health issues.

HPPD causes

Scientists believe that individuals who consume hallucinogenic drugs recreationally are at a high risk of suffering from HPPD. However, they are yet to conclude on the frequency of drug use that causes HPPD.

A recent study revealed that HPPD is common in people who consume more than one dose of LSD. It is also prevalent in people who use other hallucinogens on one occasion or more.

Contrary to common belief, HPPD is not a result of mental disorders or brain damage. It is also not a result of a “bad trip.” This is caused by hallucinogenic drugs and is more often than not, one of the many effects of LSD abuse.

HPPD management and treatment

If you experience any of the symptoms we discussed above, you should visit your doctor. They will ask you several questions before giving you a full diagnosis.

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After being diagnosed with Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder, you need to learn how to manage and treat it. Currently, two drugs have proved to be effective in HPPD treatment: lamotrigine and clonazepam.

Lamotrigine

Lamotrigine is a mood-stabilizing medication that is effective in relieving individuals of HPPD symptoms. A case study showed that lamotrigine is effective in the treatment of HPPD. Unlike other medications like antipsychotics, it did not make any symptoms worse.

Clonazepam

Like lamotrigine, clonazepam is effective in treating this disorder. It makes the symptoms less severe and more manageable.

To manage these symptoms, doctors also advise individuals to avoid stressful situations and illicit drugs. Additionally, doctors may give patients a few techniques to cope with the symptoms. For example, your doctor may advise you to use calming breathing exercises every time you have an episode. They may also prescribe rest and talk therapy.

Note that there is no single treatment for HPPD. You will undergo drug therapy. Drug therapy varies with individuals depending on the difference in visual disturbances symptoms.

Most times, drug therapy is successful, and individuals lead everyday lives after that.

Conclusion

Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder is a serious condition. Anyone who uses hallucinogens can eventually develop this disease.

If you experience any of these symptoms, they may eventually fade away. However, there are instances when the symptoms will persist for an extended time.

It would be best to seek professional help if you notice any of the symptoms above. Your doctor may prescribe drug therapy to treat the condition and other techniques to manage the symptoms and make them more bearable.

What is A Wook? (And Other Drug User Terms)

People use a myriad of names to refer to drugs and alcohol. Some of these names are common, while others are only specific to certain groups. Usually, the more popular the substance, the more slang is associated with it. One popular term these days is "wook" and it's not at all like the Wookiee from Star Wars.

Slang terms come by as a way to communicate in-group, and in the case of substances, they may be for secrecy. People who abuse drugs or alcohol don’t always want their friends or family members to know. They also don’t want to be obvious when in public.

So, they’ll use slang names so that others won’t understand. Slang terms can range from derogatory names such as junkie or doper to nicer ones like a flower child. Some of the terms' meanings hint at what society thinks about drugs. 

Read on to find out what is a wook and other common slang words:

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A Wook

Wooks are people who abuse psychedelic drugs such as LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, DMT, ketamine, ecstasy pills, 2CI (a type of hallucinogenic drug), and PCP. 

A wook depends on drugs, and they're usually so intoxicated that they rely on others for survival. Wooks don't have any ambition or motivation in life other than to get high. Because wooks are often addicted to drugs, they mostly need specialized addiction treatment, sometimes more than one type. 

You can quickly spot a wook by the way they dress. Outwardly, they adorn hippyish clothes, long and untidy deadlocks, and a general counterculture fashion. Wooks also borrow anything they can think of, including money, but they can't hold down a job because they're constantly under the influence. You'll find them at the store trying to trade in a tube of toothpaste for something they like better.

A wook will do anything to get money from you - including lying. They'll come up with lies to justify what they want. Their self-entitlement nature makes them take things from other people even when it means stealing. Wooks are always broke and unable to pay back their debts, so they make promises that they fail to keep. 

A Dopehead

Dopeheads are people who live for drugs, and everything revolves around getting high. They depend on drugs to feel good about themselves, whether through smoking pot or snorting cocaine. Dopeheads are usually:

Dopeheads are not just people addicted to heroin but also meth, marijuana, and cocaine. They also tend to have a myriad of health problems - including mental health issues.

A Beatnik

Beatniks were the first generation of counterculture Americans who used drugs to rebel against mainstream society. They believed in authenticity through drug use and felt they were free from the standard rules in life. Most beatniks were intellectuals with a poetic spirit who knew how to express their rebelliousness through their words and music.

Many beatniks abused drugs such as marijuana and heroin, but in time, other drugs such as amphetamines also became popular in beatnik circles. 

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Hippies

The word hippie was derived in the 1960s, and it depicted a person who rejected conventional values, abused alcohol or drugs, had long hair and wore bright-colored clothes.

Hippies were more concerned with quick self-satisfaction rather than making money or following a career path. They lived in communities where addiction, free sex, and hallucinogenic drugs were acceptable. The hippie movement was the antithesis of conservative American culture, which clashed when war raged in Vietnam.

Hippies believed that the mainstream authority was responsible for all wrongs, including the Vietnam war. The movement advocated for love, not war, and members were known as the flower child because of their passion for peace. However, they lived out their mantra of 'make love' literally.

In the 1960s, many young people were empowered by the hippie movement and didn't fear experimenting with drugs. They believed that taking these drugs was a way to expand their mind and experience other states of consciousness. The same period saw the rise to fame of the Grateful Dead, an American rock band whose eclectic style was famous with the counterculture movement. 

The hippie culture is still present today, even in social media. Hippies usually don't own anything, beg a lot, and they love music and festivities. The Haight Ashbury District is a famous hippie area in San Francisco, California, where you'll find the hippie culture alive. Many who refer to someone as a "wook" may be in the hippie category as well.

Cranker

A person who abuses crystal methamphetamine is called a cranker. Some slang dictionaries also refer to them as cranker, meth head, jig head, smackhead, and meth monster. Crystal methamphetamine is commonly referred to as blow clouds, tweaking, and smoking rain.

Meth is highly addictive, and it can be smoked, snorted, injected, or swallowed. The effects of meth are short yet powerful. People who abuse it have the urge to use the drug continuously.

Crankers are usually homeless because their addiction prevents them from keeping a job or being financially stable. 

A Pusher

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A pusher is someone who sells illegal drugs such as heroin and cocaine to addicts. Some slang words for a pusher include a chemist, candyman, copycat, herb doctor, peddler, dope peddler, source, square, and trap queen. Pushers are usually affiliated with massive drug cartels or gangs because they need to sell large amounts of drugs to profit. 

Dipper Head

A dipper head is a PCP (Phencyclidine) user, also known as a duster head. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, PCP use is one of the most dangerous addictions as the drug alters the mind leading to hallucinations. It leads to a distortion of one's environment, self, colors, sights, and perceptions. 

Phencyclidine intoxication symptoms may include delusions, hallucinations, disorientation, and clouded sensories. PCP abuse also disrupts sensory and time perception and produces inert movement disorders such as catatonia or stupor. PCP has a high potential for abuse and may lead to psychological dependence.

Junkie

A junkie or a cotton shooter is someone who's addicted to heroin. A casual user is a chipper, while those in their 40s and 50s are called dinosaurs.

Heroin use is a problem all over the world. Many people die every year from heroin use and heroin overdoses. In 2016, 948000 people reported using heroin in the USA in the past year. 

Heroin is an opioid drug that gives users a euphoric effect. Heroin addiction symptoms include severe withdrawal symptoms, cravings for heroin, lack of control over usage, and compulsive drug use. Treatment programs are effective for those addicted to heroin.

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Candy Man

A drug dealer who sells heroin laced with fentanyl or some other opioid pain reliever is a candyman. Fentanyl is 50-100 times more potent than Morphine. Other street names for fentanyl include Apache, China Girl, Friend, Goodfella, Jackpot, Murder 8, TNT, and Cash.

Candy-flipping

Candy flipping is when LSD is mixed with MDMA (ecstasy). The effects of candy-flipping are similar to both drugs, which creates intense euphoria. Some people feel sick after taking this combination. This experience could be a pathway to someone becoming a wook, themselves.

Chippers

Chippers are people who use drugs occasionally rather than all the time. They might even go for months without using any drugs, but they use them in low or moderate doses when they do choose to.

Many people who abuse drugs started as chippers. Chipping is not officially categorized among substance use disorders or addictions, but it can lead to one if users don't cut back their usage over time.

Drug abuse and addiction is a severe problem. Many people are addicted to drugs without realizing it because they might not consider mild drug abuse a problem. The risk factors supersede momentary pleasure. It is recommended that addicts get help from a treatment center to stop addiction and get on the road to recovery.

The Link Between Music and Drugs

A good number of musicians have used drugs to augment their creativity. Their fans, on the other hand, may use drugs to intensify the pleasure they get from music. This has been the norm for centuries, leading to intensive research on the link between music and drugs.

On the surface, music and drugs are like two different worlds. However, the two have a lot in common; including the way they affect the human brain. Drugs and music trigger the release of dopamine and serotonin.

These are the same feel-good hormones that saturate your brain when you have sex, eat junk food, or do something you love. Dopamine and serotonin make you feel happy and contented. They also boost your energy levels and sharpen your sensory perception.

When you combine drugs and music, your brain’s function and the surrounding culture merge to give you a unique and euphoric experience. That’s because the two augment each other to make the experience even better. It’s a good reason why clubs and substances go hand-in-hand. People go to the club to listen to music, use drugs or do both. 

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But the similarity between drugs and music doesn’t stop there. 

Music and drugs – a mutual relationship

As mentioned earlier, drugs and music thrive off each other. But not all music pairs with all drugs. As it turns out, some genres work with some types of drugs. For example, hard rock does well with LSD, while reggae does well with weed.

That’s because of the response this music triggers. When people use weed, they feel relaxed and want to dance to slow jams, like reggae. LSD is quite the opposite – it makes them want to shake vigorously, which explains why they prefer EDM music.

How music matches the effects of drugs

Music can mimic the specific effects of drugs. For example, fast and repetitive music matches amphetamine because users can dance quickly due to the stimulation. Ecstasy gives one a feeling of pleasure through dance and body movement; hence, it matches repetitive music.

The link between music and drugs is a complex relationship. However, there is a rich drug representation in popular music. Studies have shown that listeners of specific music genres abuse drugs more than listeners of other genres. 

Musicians, fans, and drug use

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It is not uncommon for musicians and songwriters to compose lyrics that reflect their relationship with drugs. Others even go all out to promote illicit and prescription drug use. The Acid Queen, by Tina Turner and The Who for example, talks about how LSD makes one more alive. To quote the lyrics:

If your child ain't all he should be now

 This girl will put him right

 I'll show him what he could be now

 Just give me one night

I'm the gypsy, the acid queen

 Pay me before I start

 I'm the gypsy and I'm guaranteed

 To mend his aching heart

Give us a room, close the door

 Leave us for a while

 You won't be a boy no more

 Young, but not a child

I'm the gypsy, the acid queen

 Pay me before I start

 I'm the gypsy, I'm guaranteed

 To tear your soul apart

Gather your wits and hold them fast

 Your mind must learn to roam

 Just as the gypsy queen must do

 You're gonna hit the road

My work's been done, now look at him

 He's never been more alive

 His head it shakes, his fingers clutch

 Watch his body writhe

With such lyrics, it’s easy to see why fans may want to try out this acid, especially it comes from their favorite artists. 

In the 1980s and 1990s, the high availability of molly and ecstasy made house music appealing to the then generation. The same thing happened with LSD and acid rock. Artists performing would take an addictive substance or chemical substances before going on stage for live performances. If you have gone to live music events, music shows, or concerts, you may have seen artists under the influence performing on stage. 

Listening to music while under the influence

Music tends to enhance the “high” effects of drugs. Research has shown that drugs can alter one’s experience of music. For instance, clinical trials that administered LSD to volunteers revealed LSD elevates music-induced emotion, with participants reporting feelings of tenderness, power, wonder, and superiority. Other studies found that LSD modulates music-evoked imagery through changes in parahippocampal connectivity.

Social bonds

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Both music and drugs are tools that strengthen social bonds. They give listeners and drug users a sense of identity. Simply put, music and drugs make people connect, be it socially or politically. 

Most people form peer groups with people they share cultural preferences with. Therefore, it is easy to see why they interlink music with drugs of their choice. Even though people easily associate certain drugs with specific music genres, it is evident that drugs are a minor element of a much broader identity. The drugs distinguish one group from the other.

Does music promote drug abuse?

There is a link between music and drugs. However, you mustn’t assume music leads to drug abuse or drug addiction. 

Lyrics of various songs occasionally refer to drugs and have a drug use culture surrounding them. This raised concerns about the long-term effects music glorifying drug use has on young listeners. 

One study showed that the youth positively associate music with illicit drug use and alcohol abuse. However, the study could not determine whether the listener’s behavior influenced their music preferences or whether their music preferences influenced their behavior.

There is a slight chance that drug use could influence a person’s music choice and vice versa. Whichever way the influence goes, it may lead to drug addiction. Drug addiction can lead to several disorders, including mental disorders and high blood pressure.

If someone you know is battling drug abuse, help them seek medical advice on dealing with the issue. Addiction is a chronic disease, but there are several treatment options available.

Treatment options for drug addiction

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Treatment for drug addiction should help the individual stop using drugs, remain drug-free, and be a productive member of society.

As mentioned, there are several treatment options for drug addiction. They include:

For drug addiction treatment to be successful, one needs to have a tailored treatment program with follow-up options. The patient's follow-up care can be family-based or community-based.

Conclusion

There is a link between music and drugs, but you mustn’t assume that listening to a specific music genre would influence you to take drugs. Those who get addicted to drug use should seek help for them to be rehabilitated.