Man facing a stair, image of hope and healing. As beautiful and rewarding as the life of the artist can be, it’s also inherently full of risks and challenges. Often, drugs and other addictive behaviors are part of the creatives’ lifestyle. Many artists experiment with drugs or start using them habitually to help them cope with emotions, work out creative blocks, or deal with the stress of an artistic life and career.

Unfortunately, the habitual use can easily turn into an ingrained way of being with sad and heartbreaking consequences. But, you can heal, shift, and transform unhealthy patterns – so you can use your life energy into what you long for the most: authentic connections, fulfilling creativity, and your creative career. 

You can reclaim the difficult stories that hold you trapped in an addictive cycle and create new stories with purpose, intention, and meaning.

Why do highly creative people tend to use drugs, either occasionally or in more frequent, addictive patterns ?

  • To keep difficult, unprocessed challenging feelings from coming into awareness. Often, we repress painful experiences or old unprocessed emotional conflicts. Drug use can seem to offer temporary relief from feelings that otherwise would feel unbearable. Frustrated actress on the floor with wrinkled paper, shoes, and microphone next to her
  • To access the deep, emotional world and find creative energy. Artists are drawn to use their life experiences and emotions as a source of inspiration. Unfortunately, unhealed emotional trauma or unresolved conflicts can block access to those deep creative spaces. Drugs can make it possible to elude the blocks caused by past trauma and enable temporary access to the unconscious mind.
  • To shed insecurities, fears, and inhibitions and step into that part of themselves that feels real and alive. There’s a part of all of us that lies under all the layers of unresolved hurt and social conditioning that feels real, uninhibited, and fully alive. Artists find that they can perform and create in a more authentic way when drugs temporarily remove the barriers caused by trauma and unhealed conflicts that block access to the core self when sober.

your man guitar player While the use of substances has some ostensibly but deceiving ‘desirable’ outcomes, it’s a temporary, fleeting, and dangerous “solution.” The more you engage in substance use, the more you avoid getting lost in the addictive loop. Reliance on substances will only cause you to stay trapped in trauma and emotional conflicts. Addiction issues will further disconnect your ability to connect with your emotions and creativity, in more organic and authentic ways. 

A dependency on substances will block your healing and will hinder your growth and transformation. The drugs meant to open you up, actually stand in the way of you opening up to parts of you that need to be healed and re-integrated into wholeness – which will expand your ability to genuinely connect to your life experiences, access them from an emotional space of receptivity and to create from your essence.

You can live and create with emotional freedom without turning to recreational drugs.

With the creative people I see in my psychotherapy practice, we’re less focused on the addiction and dependency and more focused on why they turn to drugs as a crutch. Our journey is about healing the emotional trauma and conflicts underneath that lies at the root of addictions. Eventually, they transition to living with emotional freedom, emotional clarity, and emotional presence and substance use or other addictions can come to an end. For the addiction to be history and not a relapse, the underlying emotional conflicts or trauma has to be addressed.Hands of female artist doing pottery

Unfortunately, many don’t understand why creative people become addicted. It’s not that they aren’t aware of dangers or in denial about the consequences. Instead, they experiment with drugs, and may develop a drug dependency out of a desire for increased creativity and to cope with the loss of authentic connections. Also, a career in the arts is filled with unknowns, rejections, inconsistencies, and people who abuse their power – which can easily trigger unhealed trauma and send people on a search for a quick way to soothe the pain.

The one-fits-all, cookie cutter treatment approaches for drug use doesn’t address the unique needs and emotional conflicts of each and every creative person or performer. True healing is a personal journey that needs to be attuned to the unique needs of each artist, particularly for artists who rely on the depth of their inner world to create and do their best work. 

 This kind of healing takes place in an emotionally attuned environment, not through standardized, cookie-cutter, treatments that look at all substance use the same way. Getting to the “why” of these choices and step-by-step development of a healing therapeutic relationship are necessary for healing.

man artist focused on his artThe process along which I guide my clients is a kind of inside-out healing that requires you to get back in touch with your inner world. Changing outer behaviors depends on connecting to the repressed and denied parts of the self, and reintegrating these parts so you can reconnect with your sense of wholeness. When necessary, we also can find the right team of experts to work with toward healing. 

So, how can you navigate your creative endeavors grounded in emotional freedom not dependent on substances for creativity, wholeness, and authentic connections?

Past trauma can be healed through psychotherapy that blends psychodynamic therapy, the neuroscience of relationships, and Attachment Focussed EMDR. Together, these approaches address the roots of childhood relational trauma and treat the addictive tendencies that emerge in people trying to cope with the aftermath of trauma.

Habitual substance use and addiction can only be  treated through healing the underlying trauma. The danger of continued drug use or relapse into addiction is high, unless one goes through treatment that actually works to rewire and integrate the parts of the brain that have been dissociated by the trauma.

Drug use, many times, is rooted In the early relational trauma and needs to be treated accordingly

Happy, smiling female fine artist holding a bouquet of roses in her hand Childhood emotional trauma leaves the mind full of un-integrated emotions, images, sensation, and somatic experiences – like scattered puzzle pieces that can’t be put together without help. Your artistic and creative mind is seeking wholeness, and needs you to integrate these fragments of memory into a meaningful and fulfilling story. Drugs may give you a fleeting and temporary illusion of “all the pieces coming together,” but it cannot last without proper therapy. 

Through EMDR and other attuned psychotherapeutic approaches, you can reprocess those scattered aspects of yourself, once and for all. You can get free of the physical, emotional, and relational dangers of drugs and find the wholeness and creative expression that comes from your deepest essence. 

I offer psychodynamic therapy, EMDR therapy (EMDR certified), psychoanalytic therapy (certified), combined with CBT, and grounded in the neuroscience of psychotherapy and relationships in order to help people discover how to live fully in the present and create more fulfilling, successful lives. 

In particular I have an expertise working with creatives, performers, and artists of all kinds  including writers, screenwriters, actors, fine artists, musicians, producers, directors, fashion designers, and creative entrepreneurs. My office is in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles. I provide in-person and online psychotherapy to people across California.

If you are interested in EMDR therapy, please contact me for your free 15 minute consultation to see if this therapy is appropriate for you.



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