Are Creative People More Prone to Becoming Alcoholics?
Are people who are creative more prone to alcoholism than the person who isn’t creative? The jury is still out, as of yet there is no “real” scientific or empirical proof one way or another. Speaking from experience, I can tell you that a lot of my creativity has been a factor in my alcoholism. The reasons behind this are many but some that I can pinpoint are that many times I drank to open my mind up to more creativity and at others I drank to shut my head down. When you get in these creative stints, sometimes it’s just too much and you feel like you need something to shut it down.
Other reasons I have drank based on my creativity have been appearing in public, which I have had to do a lot as a professional musician. It can be very hard for a creative person to make public appearances because of the pressure to succeed and do well. Also, if some creative people are like me, I really don’t like the public all that well. Don’t take this the wrong way, but being approached by complete strangers and having this requirement to be “nice” even when you don’t feel like it takes its toll. For me, playing music has never been about the accolades and certainly never about the money. It’s all about the music and the expression of love for the music.
The fact of the matter is that I am somewhat of a hermit and I close up a lot and easily. When I have to a gig to do sometimes the only way I could deal with it was to drink because it would loosen me up enough to the point where I could actually enjoy talking to people when we went on breaks. I know some of you are going to say, “Then why on Earth do you appear in public at all?” You couldn’t possibly understand unless you are a creative person, such as an actor, artist or musician. We create our music to share, the part that is wholly so hard to share is ourselves. We are already so exposed when we write music, or create any art, it’s like being naked and that your soul is stripped bare and exposed. The public appearances can become rather overwhelming.
Another reason creative people have a tendency to drink is rejection. It is like being stabbed deep in your heart when something you have created is rejected, whether it is by the public or by those close to us. The fear of rejection can be so strong it can drive a creative person into a bottle as surely as the sun rises. I feel that, as an artist, I have to be more careful about my bouts with alcoholism because I know damn good and well that my creativity can drive me to the point of desiring oblivion at any given moment. I have to always be on guard for those little nudges of pressure I feel every time I get close to performing.
Are creative people more prone to alcoholism? I don’t know, but I do know that it has been a huge factor in my drinking over the years. Here is a partial list of creative people that have died from alcoholism or from factors relating to their habit:
- John Bonham (drummer Led Zepplin)
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
- O. Henry
- William Holden
- Billie Holiday
- Jack Kerouac
- Jim Morrison
- Bon Scott (AC/DC)
- Dylan Thomas
- Amy Winehouse
- Keith Whitley
- Hank Williams
- Ernest Hemingway
- Franklin Pierce