Creativity and Alcohol: a Deadly Combination

There is no denying that creativity requires imagination and out-of-the-box thinking, but sometimes creative people have to resort to unusual methods and strategies to explore their creativity. These could include traveling to exotic locations and experiencing a different culture, going out into the wilderness to meditate, or sometimes using substances that loosen their inhibitions.

For many creative people, the third option is usually the road they take, as it is the easiest and the most accessible. Their choice of eye-opening substances could include illegal substances such as mushrooms and LSD, but many often use alcohol to loosen their inhibitions. Sadly, their dependence on such substances could lead to health-damaging addictions, disease, and eventual death.

Some of the most revered creative and talented people in the world suffered from alcoholism. But their dependence on alcohol developed into liver cirrhosis, an eventuality that any doctor of gastroenterology would have told them. Unfortunately for these artists, they had gone too far into their addiction, and the spread of the disease was unstoppable.

Jack Kerouac

One of the prime movers of the Beat Generation, Kerouac wrote the iconic novel “On the Road,” a roman a clef novel that followed his road trip across the United States and showed how the post-war generation dealt with counter-culture ideas. Kerouac was famous for drinking as he wrote his novels, and was known on Long Island as a barfly who went around barefoot. He was disillusioned and confused by his celebrity status, and became a recluse. In 1969, Kerouac died from an internal hemorrhage due to liver cirrhosis.

Hank Williams

drunk manHe was one of the most popular singer-songwriters of the 20th century, writing and singing more than 35 singles that went to the top ten of the Billboard Country charts. But Hank Williams, the writer of songs like “Your Cheating Heart” and “Hey Good Lookin’,” suffered from alcoholism. He needed it to write songs that felt “authentic” to him, and many other singers followed. Unfortunately, in 1953, at the age of 29, Hank Williams died of alcoholism and drug intoxication.

John Barrymore

A renowned actor onstage and onscreen, Barrymore was part of the Drew-Barrymore acting clan that included sister Ethel, brother Lionel, and father, Maurice. He was called the “greatest living American tragedian” after his successful stint as Hamlet on the London stage in 1925. He was known for his stage presence and commanding voice, and earned the title “The Great Profile.” But throughout his career, Barrymore struggled with alcohol abuse, which had started when he was only 14 years old. Later on, in his career, studios found it challenging to hire him as he was most often drunk and was unreliable to complete a film shoot. In 1942, while doing a recording for a radio show, Barrymore collapsed. He died from liver and kidney failure due to cirrhosis.

Creativity requires an enormous output from an artist, and sometimes it can take a toll on their mental and physical health. But any unique talent should know the limitations of their body and mind so that they could share more of their gifts with the world for a longer time.

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