What causes addiction?
The underlying causes of addiction have been written about at great length. There are many theories about what leads up to the tragic expression of this complex disorder. It has been proposed that addiction is partly an inherited condition. Much has been said about the contribution of childhood trauma.
Yet, many who have struggled with this condition do not complain of significant traumatic events in their early life. There are many accounts of people growing up in unremarkable, well-adjusted and stable homes. Good parenting was applied, but still, the unfortunate outcome was a life destroying addiction.
Creatives are at high risk.
One common characteristic that I have personally noticed in the majority of addiction sufferers is a high level of creativity. This is a group of people who love to dream, think and create. This is what makes getting to know people in recovery so interesting. Once the drugs are removed from their system they tend to be an incredibly interesting group of people.
In fact, engaging creative efforts is an excellent part of successful drug treatment programs. The best in residential treatment often include music and art as part of the program. Creating art helps people to stay clean. Developing creative skill works. Programs with creative therapies have higher success rates.
Blocking creativity may be dangerous.
So, what does this say about the cause of addiction? Many creatives find that their creative effort is stifled early in life. This could be due to pressure from outside, family and peer pressure, or it could be due to internal insecurities. I believe that blockage of the creative effort is a powerful contributor to the development of active addiction. As a society, we do not see how traumatic and tragic this can be.
You might think that, in modern times, there would be a reduction in the incidence of addiction. With the internet and modern technology, there has never been a better time to be a creative person. Today, a person can easily create and share their works of art with an audience. Yet, with social media comes a great increase in peer pressure and social pressure to perform at levels which may be unreasonable. We find ourselves measuring our abilities to unrealistic expectations.
Developing creativity is a basic necessity.
We have seen what happens when the fabric of society unravels and the basic necessities of life become unavailable. Usually, chaos ensues. When things such as food, water, plumbing, travel and basic freedoms are taken away, many people will react irrationally. We expect to see this in large-scale disasters. What if the ability to develop and express creative ability were as essential as food and water for some people?
Preventing addiction by letting creatives be themselves.
What can we do to improve this situation? How can we keep more kids from falling into the trap of addiction? If it were possible to identify children with strong creative ability, it might be possible to avoid serious consequences later in life by nurturing the need for expression. Creative practice and performance may be as important as good nutrition to these individuals.
This is just a theory. Further study will be needed and we are far from public policy and general public education on the topic. Still, we might consider the possibility and apply changes in our lives and with our children immediately. There can be nothing wrong with encouraging the development and expression of creative work. There is no point to suppressing it. By encouraging creativity, especially in those people who have a talent for a particular art, we can help to redirect lives in a more positive direction that will benefit us all.