Myth that Substance Abuse Produces Creativity

There is a myth that abusing alcohol or drugs can make people more creative. This idea has gained weight because so many creative types have had addiction problems. The reality is that these individuals were creative despite their substance abuse and not because of it. A good example of this would be Jackson Pollock. This groundbreaking artist managed to do almost all his famous pieces during a two year period of sobriety. His creativity disappeared as soon as he returned to alcoholism.

Creativity Defined

Creativity can be defined as the ability to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities. Those who are creative often have the ability to think outside the box, and they can see connections that other people might miss. It is suggested that creative types are more thoughtful than the average person, and it is this that gives them their edge. Most of the modern marvels that people rely on would not exist without creative thinking.

Recovery and Fear of Lost Creativity

One excuse that addicts will give for not entering recovery is that they fear it will rob them of their creativity. The author Stephen King admits that his biggest fear before giving up alcohol and drugs was that it would rob him of his creativity. This fear proved to be unfounded and since becoming sober he has managed to produce some of his most successful works. When people first become sober their thinking can feel a bit cloudy but once they enter long term sobriety they are likely to enjoy a level of creativity much higher than anything they experienced previously.

Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome and Creativity

Some people are alarmed to find that their thinking does feel a bit fuzzy in early recovery. This is often due to post acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) that causes persistent problems with cognitive functioning that can last up to a year. The symptoms of PAWS can interfere with creativity because:

* The individual is often unable to get a good night sleep so they can feel tired during the day.
* They may find it difficult to focus on anything for long.
* It can feel as if their brain is in a fog.
* The individual can suffer from symptoms of depression.
* It can lead to problems with memory.
* People can feel like they are lacking in initiative, and they don’t feel like doing anything.
* They can have difficulties experiencing pleasure – this could mean that they don’t feel like being creative.
* Their emotions may seem to be all over the place. This is often referred to as the emotional rollercoaster of early recovery.

While it is true that people may find creativity is lacking in early recovery they need to remind themselves that this is a temporary situation. It does not mean that being sober has robbed them of their creativity.

Reasons Why Creativity Increases During Recovery

There are some good reasons for why people can expect their creativity to increase during sobriety including:

* Once people get settled in recovery their mental clarity will improve. This means that their cognitive functioning will be better than ever now that it is not clouded by alcohol and drugs.
* Addicts devote large portions of their time to thinking about, obtaining, using, and getting over the effects of alcohol and drugs. Once they are sober they can use this time to be more creative.
* The life of the addict is boring and predictable. When people enter recovery they have the opportunity of trying out many new experiences and these can generate new avenues of creativity.
* When people are trapped in addiction they are usually highly delusional. This means that their creative ideas may not be of much value to other people.
* Having good ideas is just part of the equation. When people are sober they can turn their creativity into action and end up with something of value.
* Practices such as meditation in recovery can have an impact on a person’s creativity levels.

Character Traits of the Creative

It is suggested that creative people have certain characteristics including:

* Creative people don’t always have a high IQ but they do have a certain degree of openness towards new ideas that other people lack. They are willing to think outside the box and this means that the see novel solutions to problems.
* Such individuals have the ability to get lost in their imagination yet still ground this in reality – this means that they have the best of both worlds.
* These are people who have a high degree of physical energy yet also have the ability to stay focused for long periods of time.
* Creative types often have a low threshold for pain, and they are easily able to identify the pain in others.
* One of the key reasons for why creative people are able to do what they do is their passion. Generating new ideas is just something that they love to do.
* They are willing to rebel when necessarily, but they also respect and understand why the rules are there.
* Creative people tend to have high self esteem but they mix this with humility. They prefer to achieve things rather than talk about their achievements.

How to Increase Creativity in Recovery

There are things that people can do to increase their levels of creativity in recovery including:

* It is highly recommended that people keep a daily journal in recovery. This will give them an opportunity to not only chart their progress in recovery but also keep a record of any creative ideas that they have hit upon.
* It is easy to forget good ideas if people fail to record them right away. This is why it is generally recommended that people take pen and notebook with them wherever they go – these days there are also more high tech solutions available.
* Another writing tool worth considering is a dream diary as many people have great ideas during this state of consciousness – it was a dream that led to the creation of the first sewing machine. Learning to lucid dream can also be a great advantage to anyone who wishes to increase their creativity.
* It is a good idea to try to develop the character traits associated with creativity. This could include such traits as humility, passion, concentration, and openness.
* In order to become more creative it is vital that people make time for this work. It is a good idea to regularly set time aside just to be creative.
* Negative thinking can really get in the way of creativity. This is one more reason to develop a positive attitude in recovery.
* Brain storming is a tried and trusted method for coming up with new ideas.
* It is a good idea if people reward themselves for being creative. This will motivate them to repeat the behavior in the future.
* Fear of failure can be another stumbling block in the creative process. It is important to keep in mind that the only person who really fails is the person who gives up.