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I'm Only Creative When I Smoke Smoker: Would you like to hear some of my poetry?

Thurgood Jenkins: Not really, no.

I'm Only Creative When I Smoke Smoker: You really should. "I have killed. I have helped kill. I have killed part of myself. I cannot change this. I... I must seek Buddha. I must seek Christ"

Thurgood Jenkins: You must seek therapy. But that's just where I would go with that.

In fiction, an artist, be he a writer, musician or painter, may be addicted to a drug. One of the conflicts in the work is usually the artist's struggle to escape the addiction. This was probably Truth in Television before it entered television, so it's probably just a stereotype that has come about from real-life artists using drugs.

See also Mad Artist, What Do You Mean It Wasn't Made on Drugs?. Sometime an artist might go the other way and decide No Medication for Me.

Examples:


Fiction

  • Charlie Pace from Lost is addicted to something that is most likely cocaine but for some reason the drug is called heroin.
  • Isaac Mendez in Heroes is this and/or a Junkie Prophet. He's perfectly capable of painting the future without heroin, but using the drug does sort of give him a boost to his power.
    • Although when he discovered his powers, he was unaware he could paint the future without drugs. It was only after Eden McCain and HRG took him away and weaned him off heroin that he found out he could use his powers without, erm, "assistance".
  • Jude in Across the Universe smokes marijuana, but it doesn't seem to be a huge conflict.
    • Possibly a nod to rumors that The Beatles were high when they wrote their songs, as Jude creates a masterpiece while high.
  • The author in Stranger Than Fiction is addicted to cigarettes.
  • Resident Intellectual Paul Kinsey on Mad Men claims to get most of his ideas from "Mary Jane." The one time we actually get to see this in action, Peggy is the only one who actually comes up with anything.
    • That entire plotline is a very subtle Crowning Moment of Funny for the series, especially the bit where she walks into the room and says, "My name is Peggy Olson and I'm here to smoke some marijuana."
  • The movie Half Baked has the "I'm Only Creative When I Smoke Smoker", who believes she needs to smoke marijuana to be creative.

Truth in Television

  • Ray Charles was addicted to heroin.
  • Jack London was an alcoholic and eventually committed suicide.
  • Take a rock star. Any rock star.
  • The Beatles were often high during or in the near vicinity of creative endeavors. They used stimulants while they were in Hamburg so they could stay awake during ridiculously long sets. After Bob Dylan introduced them four of them to pot under the mistaken notion that they already smoked it (due to a Mondegreen of all things...), they took up the habit. A year later, John and George were introduced to acid by their dentist, who spiked their coffee with the stuff one night, an incident memorialized in the song "Doctor Robert"; Ringo followed shortly thereafter. By their second trip to America, they were fairly regular trippers (there's a famous story about how Peter Fonda ruined their trip at a party they were throwing at their rental house in LA, which got turned into "She Said She Said" on Revolver). Paul also took it up, but not until around "Sgt. Pepper," and he gave it up right before telling the press he used to take it... <sigh> John in particular loved LSD (he admitted to having written "I Am The Walrus" at least partially on two separate acid trips). At least two of Paul's songs ("Got To Get You Into My Life" and "Fixing a Hole") are most definitely about pot -- the former by Paul's admission, the latter because it's obvious; and odds are, any song from that era by Paul that looks like it's about pot is.
    • John Lennon was addicted to heroin for a while; he wrote the song "Cold Turkey" about his withdrawal symptoms. It was released as a solo work because Paul McCartney didn't want to touch or get credit for it. (Pity, it's one of John's better works.)
  • Having mentioned Bob Dylan, we would be remiss not to mention that when he wrote "Rainy Day Woman #12 & 35," he was not talking about an ancient form of capital punishment.
    • Flip-Flop of God seems to indicate that it actually might, as in a couple of interviews, Dylan recalls reading about Islamic stoning of women in a paper just before writing the song. On the other hand, he was stoned during the recording of the song, so who knows?
  • Stephen King was addicted to alcohol, cocaine, and prescription drugs. He claims to have no memory of having written Cujo.
  • Dave Brock of space-rock band Hawkwind once claimed that he always mixed the band's albums while he was stoned. Given the results, it's entirely plausible.
    • Hawkwind also spawned the Heavy Metal icons Motorhead. Motorhead being a slang term for an amphetamine addict.
      • It's also worth mentioning Lemmy left Hawkwind to start Motorhead because he was arrested when customs mistook his speed for crystal meth.
      • In Lemmy's own words, he was kicked out for "using the wrong drugs".
  • Speaking of Brocks, there's Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse. To say nothing of the rest of the band, he definitely used various drugs. And then they all sobered up and made Good News For People Who Love Bad News and We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank. The former is generally considered excellent (and quite bizarre), while the latter is generally considered merely very good and less bizarre (although some blame it on the change in drummer). Their earlier work is much different from those two releases, the influence of drugs is very clear on The Moon & Antarctica". Incidentally, Good News contained a song about...
  • Charles Bukowski, who was a fairly steady drinker throughout his life and still rates as one of America's top poets of the 20th century.
  • William S. Burroughs spent the first half of his life as a drug addict and the second half as a writer (and drug addict).
  • The Korean painter Ohwon, whose life was the topic of Drunk On Women and Poetry, was a notorious drunk. Much of his oeuvre was allegedly done while under the influence of alcohol.
  • Older Than Print: The Tang Dynasty-era (8th century) Chinese poet Li Bai (perhaps better known as Li Po in the West) was famous for his alcoholism, to the point where many if not most of his poems are in some way about drinking and drunkenness. He supposedly died during a drinking session in a rowboat on a lake, where he became enamored of the reflection of the moon on the water and drowned trying to hug it. He is considered to be one of the finest poets (if not the finest) in the history of Chinese literature, which is saying something (considering how much literature China has produced in its 3,500+ years of existence as a civilization).
  • Charlie Parker, probably the biggest name to EVER appear in jazz, took more drugs than Keith Richards. When he died, the coroner estimated him, on the degradation of his body, to be in his sixties. He was thirty four.
  • Subverted by Lou Reed: Although he certainly took lots of drugs, heroin was not one of them. However, he wrote and sung several songs about heroin (including one titled "Heroin"), and apparently some fans started using after hearing these songs, much to his disgust.
  • Author and counterculture figure Ken Kesey was a typical clean-cut, all-American jock... until he discovered LSD as a paid test subject in college. Hilarity ensued. His first book, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, was written while he worked night shifts at the local VA hospital's psych ward (a job he first took so he could access more LSD and other drugs), stoned out of his mind. His second novel, Sometimes A Great Notion, was written on acid/pot/speed binges that would last thirty hours at a time. And then there was the bus...
  • Syd Barrett.
    • Though according to Roger Waters, Syd was the only band member who was on anything harder than alcohol, nicotine or caffeine.
  • Kurt Cobain of Nirvana used heroin a lot. It was at least partially self medication for an unspecified stomach condition.
  • John Frusciante's heroin use during the 90s led to all his teeth falling out, voices in his head, and the album Smile From The Streets You Hold which is considered his Creator Breakdown. Luckily, He Got Better.
  • Children's book author Robert Munsch was addicted to cocaine and alcohol.
  • Brian Wilson first took LSD with a friend in 1964 - after some initial anxiety, he sat down and played what would eventually become California Girls - call it coincidence, but the Beach Boys music started to get more interesting and complex around this time.
    • Unfortunately, Brian was a Creator Breakdown just waiting for a place to happen, and his obsessive use of acid is believed to have exacerbated it.
      • Brian did later note what starts as a tool can become a crutch and then a great weight.
    • Hunter S. Thompson made overindulgence in drugs a large part of his public image, and by all accounts required amphetamines and alcohol to write in his trademark style. While the frequency is much debated, he definitely played with other substances, and was fond of marijuana in his more relaxed moments.
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