Alcoholics/Addicts and Creativity/Success

Old 01-21-2012, 01:45 PM
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Alcoholics/Addicts and Creativity/Success

Yesterday I was reading Bill W.'s story in AA's Big Book, and it was talking about how he would try to convince his wife that, even though he drank too much, it was okay because "men of genius conceived their best projects when drunk; the most mmajestic constructions of philosophic thought were so derived."

This really hit home for me-- I'm a writer and always thought that writing and heavy drinking went hand and hand, and that alcohol sparked creativity-- Hemingway, Bukowski, etc. I'm also a professional in a world where it seems the most powerful and successful people in my profession drink, and that the social life/networking revolves around drinking. So in the past I always thought either "how can I stop drinking when it fuels my creativity/ helps me do well socially in my profession...", or, "okay, so I drink too much, what's the big deal? It's because I'm creative and driven, and I will produce great things this way."

Now I'm realizing that I was full of it. I rarely wrote or did well at work when I was drinking. All that my life seemed to revolve around was alcohol and hopelessness. I'm only 76 days sober and already I feel so much more productive, energetic and motivated than I did when I was drinking. I'm not saying everything's magically fixed, or that I don't struggle with concentration/brain fog issues, or that sometimes I don't just sit on the couch watching Mad Men, because I do, but overall I think I will reach my goals much better being sober than drunk.

Also I was looking at the list of celebrity recovered alcoholics, and looking into some of their backgrounds since I hadn't realized that about all of them, and I discovered that many have done much more productive/successful things with their life/career *after* they stopped drinking.


- Philip Seymour Hoffman went to rehab for drug and alcohol addiction soon after he graduated from college, and has been sober ever since... and most of his great movies have been after that, of course.

- Famous Alcoholics: Samuel L Jackson has been sober through AA for over 20 years (the link has pretty interesting snippets of interviews with him-- apparently he gets sent crates of Cristal that he obviously can't drink!

- Demi Moore, back in 1985, had to sign a contract to stop her own alcohol and drug abuse in order to play the cocaine-addicted character in St. Elmo's Fire, which apparently helped her turn her life around.

And then there is one of my favs, Craig Ferguson, who has been sober for a long time and is a very funny and successful comedian/talk show host.

It helps me to see that it's the people who are successful, creative, driven, etc... not the alcohol or drugs... and that they have done so many great things after getting sober. This inspires me and I hope it inspires some of the newcomers as an additional reason to keep going!
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Old 01-21-2012, 01:50 PM
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Many celebrities have gone down in flames because of alcohol and drugs. Burned out early...

All the best PT

Bob R.
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Old 01-21-2012, 02:06 PM
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A lot of my musical idols are dead due to drink or drugs...I'd have liked to hear what they could have done with their talents past their 20s and 30s...

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Old 01-21-2012, 02:08 PM
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Yes, this is true, Dee and 2GDs. When I don't idolize alcoholism in famous/successful people, I see all the harm that it has done. Actually I know many people in my profession who look successful but when I got to know them (through drinking with them!!), I saw that their lives were a mess, they were barely holding it all together, and they were miserable. Just like I was. So looks can be deceiving and, yes, they would probably do so much more if they would not drink it all away. :-/
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Old 01-21-2012, 02:37 PM
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It would suck to be a celebrity alcoholic/addict. This stuff is hard enough to go through with just your family and friends watching. Imagine if you had to suffer through it with the WHOLE WORLD watching and passing judgment on you.

Your post reminded me of a story I read a week or so ago about Heather Locklear. She's been struggling with addiction for many years ... been in and out of rehab and always relapsed (much like Lindsay Lohan). About a week ago, she ended up in the hospital from combining pills and booze (again). Along with the article was a picture of her at a Lakers game and she is clearly drunk off her a**. How humiliating would that be? What's worse is some of the comments people left about the article, such as, "I don't feel a bit sorry for her. She has all the money in the world, could afford the best rehab, and still won't get sober? What a loser." The majority of the comments were along the same theme. There was such contempt in those comments, and such ignorance of addiction too.

Addiction doesn't care who you are, how much money you have, or how powerful you are. It doesn't discriminate. It doesn't matter if you can afford the best doctors, the best therapists, the best rehab or the best of whatever ... we can only overcome if we have a plan and we work it every single day. My alcoholism was demoralizing, humiliating and destructive. I am just grateful that I have such a wonderful support system and that, for the most part, I was able to suffer and recover in private, away from the critical eyes of the rest of the world. I feel for those who aren't able to be "anonymous" in their suffering.
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Old 01-21-2012, 03:04 PM
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Excellent post, Pigtails. Thanks!

Show me a "high functioning" alcoholic and I'll show you an underachiever of the nth degree.

It took me a helluva lot longer than 76 days to understand that truism!
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Old 01-21-2012, 11:53 PM
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Great post Pigtails. I can remember writing a few papers back in college while I was intoxicated and waking the next day to find that I had written absolute garbage lol.
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Old 01-22-2012, 02:22 AM
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Thanks Pigtails,
the idea that drug addicts and alcoholics are tortured soul genius artists is total urban legend.
Besides I'd rather be a housefrau swapping recipes dusting shelves hosting a book club, clean and sober, thank you very much, than live any sort of drug addict or alcoholic lifestyle. Just the thought of going back makes me wanna puke.
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Old 01-22-2012, 08:06 AM
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Amen, DesertSong, amen!
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Old 01-22-2012, 02:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Ranger View Post
Excellent post, Pigtails. Thanks!

Show me a "high functioning" alcoholic and I'll show you an underachiever of the nth degree.

It took me a helluva lot longer than 76 days to understand that truism!
Yeah, on the outside I personally LOOKED high-functioning, but that was part of my addiction: put on a front to the outside world to make it look like I had it all together, so that I could keep drinking and being miserable and ruining my life. I could have achieved/produced so much more if I had been sober. I have to remember that whenever I see what I THINK is a "high"-functioning/successful alcoholic.

I also found that a little bit of luck and recognition can go along way and one can ride that wave of "success" for a long time before they crash. What I mean is, I did well enough in school (but could have done much better if I were sober/applying myself/actively living life instead of drinking and running away from it) to get hired by a good company, and once I had that good company on my resume, other companies that looked at me thought I was amazing. I bounced around to different companies, never happy but always riding that wave of prior "success," and never reaching my full potential, but I had the Powers That Be fooled that I was better than I actually was being, just because of my past success and my ability to maintain the image. By the end, I couldn't handle keeping up the act, and I just stopped caring about maintaining the image, leaving the Powers That Be scratching their head and thinking "What is WITH her, we know she is capable of so much more than she is giving us...".

I think that the same thing could have happened to the "greats" like Hemingway, Winehouse, etc.... I'm certainly not trying to compare myself to world-famous writers or artists, but whenever I think "well, they produced something great despite/[used to think because of] their addiction," I have to remember that maybe they got lucky/successful early and rode that wave, but they could have actually been even more successful and productive if they had found sobriety. That's why it's helpful for me to see what the celebrities in the list have been up to since sobriety/recovery... to remind myself that life is better without alcohol, even if I used to have myself fooled that it wasn't.
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