man painting clouds and sky

Creativity and Addiction: is There a Link?

By Michael A Tree House Staff

Artists, Musicians, Poets, Photographers, Comedians… the list can go on of all the creatives in the world that share a common trait: addiction. This leads to the question, is there a direct link between addiction and creativity? If you have ever been to, or visited, a rehab center, you will see art everywhere – graffiti, people playing guitar, paintings on walls, and countless other mediums. Creativity seems to be a major component among people struggling with addiction. I wanted to explore the link. Here’s the research I found:

According to many science-backed theories, addiction has genetic, environmental and stress components. Someone may have the genetic trait, but never fall into addiction. However one trait that does stand out, according to Neuroscientist David Linden, are the same prerequisites that can lead to creativity. These are the genes involved in the signaling of the neurotransmitter dopamine for pleasure and reward. There seems to be similarities between creative brains and addictive brains with this trait.

“You don’t become addicted because you feel pleasure strongly. On the contrary, addicts seem to want it more but like it less. They feel pleasures more weakly and are more likely to try more to achieve more.” said David Linden in Scientific American. “If you carry those variants, you are more likely to be more risk-taking, novelty-seeking and compulsive. None of which are explicitly creative, but they are things that get to creativity. So novelty-seeking might be a spur to creativity.” Traumatic events can lead to addiction / creativity.. Sadness can lead to both, happiness can, and many other factors. The traits that lead to creative expression, can also unlock addiction in people that are genetically predisposed.

According to his research, there is no definite link between creativity and addiction. What can be concluded is there are similar keys that can unlock both. What stands out from his research is that having an addiction means you are more inclined to achieve more — to push further than others and to express yourself in a deeper way. This can lead to new perspectives, ways of thinking that most other people don’t normally achieve. David supports this by stating “These traits that come from having low dopamine function have an upside. These traits can contribute to people having great success in the world, like business leaders.”

If addiction is addressed, and a healthy life is reinstated, does this mean creativity dulls out? Absolutely not, it’s actually the opposite. You now have an outlet that can have more clarity and focus. Overcoming addiction leads to even newer perspectives on life.

At Tree House Recovery helps men find freedom from addiction. Our treatment programs create sustainable change for sustainable recovery. Call us 24/7 at: (855) 202-2138

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