Drugs, Creativity and YOU
There have only been 19 studies (6 of which were done in the 1970’s) that have effectively delved into the relationship between drug use and creativity.
Most of the studies found an association between creativity and psychoactive substance use but none of the studies could confirm this. What they did find was that drug use happens more frequently with people who are more “creative” but there’s no firm evidence that the creative people who tend to take drugs more frequently gain enhanced creativity.
It’s thought that it’s actually more likely that using drugs acts indirectly by enhancing sensitivity and there for experiences which can loosen your consciousness and have an influence on the creative process.Meaning not only will the person think they are more creative but it will actually change the art produced when on drugs, but on the other hand it might have a stabilizing or compensating effect for a more unstable creative process. One study found that the cartoonist Robert Crumb actually changed his illustration style while on LSD. Another study was done with musician Brian Wilson showed that his modification of musical style was connected to substance use. Though, it’s hard to measure a creative process due to the complexity and difference from person to person and personality type.
Research is looking into how we can utilize drugs, specifically psychoactive substances can be included in treatments for mental health disorders.
These cognitive enhancers, which can enhance or restore brain function with treatments for neurodegenerative diseases and psychiatric disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and schizophrenia. And with today’s current renaissance in psychedelic drug research and the growing interest in cognitive enhancing drugs, now may be the time to re-visit these studies with contemporary research methods.
But, until we can report on those findings to come…
Let’s talk about what drugs actually do to your brain and how they might affect your creativity.
- Dopamine is involved in regulation of movement, reward, and punishment, pleasure, energy. Drugs that affect feelings of pleasure, including Cocaine, Amphetamine, opiates, marijuana, heroin, and PCP can affect your levels of it.
- Epinephrine also is known as adrenaline is an excitatory neurotransmitter involved in arousal and alertness.
- Norepinephrine is involved in arousal and alertness, energy and feelings of pleasure and can be affected by stimulants.
- Serotonin is involved in the regulation of mood and impulsivity and affected by alcohol, hallucinogens, stimulants, and antidepressants.
- Acetylcholine Inhibitory neurotransmitter is involved in movement, memory function, motivation and sleep which can be affected by PCP and hallucinogens, Marijuana, Stimulants.
- GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid) Inhibitory neurotransmitter involved in arousal, judgment, and impulsiveness and is affected by depressant drugs, and marijuana.
- Glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter.
- Endorphins are substances involved in pain relief and reward/punishment triggered by opioids and depressants.
Keep reading to see what specific drugs do!
The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that the effects of most hallucinogens work by disrupting serotonin which plays a role in with our behavioral, perceptual, and regulatory systems. However, drugs like PCP affect glutamate receptor that is important for pain perception, responses to the environment, learning and memory. The structure of hallucinogens are very similar to the structure of serotonin found all over the brain and plays a role in our perceptions of happiness and overall well-being. This means that these receptors open for serotonin can be mimicked by the drugs allowing the hallucinogens resemble serotonin them to act like it. Think of the blocking game you played as a baby or Tetris.
Stimulants including Adderal, Ritalin and Concerta act like monoamines such as norepinephrine and dopamine and enhance the effects of these chemicals. When you take these (and other illegal drugs like cocaine) they increase dopamine, making you feel somewhat euphoric and also increase your blood pressure, heart rate, constrict blood vessels, increase blood glucose, and open up breathing passages.
The body has cannabinoid (CB) receptors all throughout the brain and body which react to marijuana and also react to natural chemicals we make (anandamide and 2-AG) along with their specific receptors which make up the full endocannabinoid (EC) system. CB regulate how cells communicate in ways like how they send, receive, or process messages and can slow things down.
THC affects behavior based on where the CB receptor is located:
- Amygdala regulates emotions fear & anxiety the receptors when affected by THC can cause panic or paranoia.
- Basal ganglia helps to regulate when you plan or start your movement when affected by THC can cause a slowed reaction time.
- Brain Stem sends information between the brain and spinal cord and helps with those anti-nausea effects.
- Cerebellum deals with motor coordination and balance and when affected by THC can cause impaired coordination.
- Hippocampus is the part of your brain that helps you to learn new information which can cause the impaired memory when you’re high.
- Hypothalamus is connected to your drive for eating and sexual behavior which can increase your appetite and make you want to have sex when smoking.
- Neocortex deals with complex thinking, feeling and movement, so it can alter your thinking, judgment, and sensation.
- Nucleus accumbens gives you motivation and reward feeling which can account for the euphoric feelings.
- Spinal cord relays info between your body and brain and can give you an altered pain sensitivity.
You can see that drugs have ups and downs. We’re clearly not advocates of drug use or non-drug use. It’s really a personal choice but we can show you the effects they have so that you can make informed choices.
Getting high and creating art may sound like the **coolest** thing to do, but drugs are different for everyone and being safe and healthy should be your number one objective. As well, these images are not meant to glamorize drug use, just make stock images more interesting.
Have more questions? Shoot us an email!