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because I sometimes forget if I have written about something in the past. So, if I have written about this topic I apologize in advance.


I read two new(to me)articles about writers and alcohol(or other mind altering substances). One of the articles focused on women writers and alcohol. Many of the writers were self medicating for one reason or another. This happens with other creative types, not just writers but I guess it depends on the things one reads as to whether you will find articles about certain people using and abusing alcohol or other substances. I don't think I have ever seen an article about nicotine being used as a drug to fuel creativity but I know that I have used it in that manner and am aware of many other creative souls who have as well. The use of seemingly benign caffeine gets used in this manner as well. Should I even mention the fact that food can be a drug as well?

Those of a creative nature are not the only ones to self medicate with alcohol, drugs, food, nicotine, caffeine and even sex. There are so many of us who try to find ways to cope with pain(emotional and physical), anxiety, depression, emptiness, fear, guilt, sorrow, horror and etc. via self medication. It can be hard for us to admit that we need help to manage or fill a void. Even if we do admit it an seek out ways to deal with behaviors that may be less than healthy I am here to tell you that there are not always avenues to have that need met. Sometimes medications work for anxiety, depression, ADD, thought disorders, pain and other medical disorders and sometimes they just don't or they do not do an adequate job. Finding a competent therapist is not an easy job, even if you have good insurance. Guilt can sometimes never be erased no matter what one does to deal with it. 12 step programs do not work for everyone I don't care what those in the field of substance abuse may try to tell you. It is all a balancing act and sometimes there is no net under the high wire.

I have lived with recurring and/or chronic pain most of my life for the past several years it has been disabling. However, a back injury last May, followed by repeated injures to the same area since then, has helped me to understand why some people turn to alcohol for pain relief. Doctors are afraid to prescribe pain medication for fear that it will make them look bad or that the patient may be addicted and I am here to tell you that acetaminophen doesn't do much, if anything, for severe pain. I know a woman who is in her seventies living with severe chronic pain who has considered moving to a state that allows the sale of medical marijuana in hopes that it would help her to be able to cope with the pain she is enduring. I could never afford to relocate to another state for the purpose of being able to obtain medical marijuana but I hope that someday Arkansas will legalize medical marijuana, that I can find a doctor brave enough to prescribe it and that I can afford it. That is a whole bushel basket of hope, let me tell you what.

Self medication is an easy trap to fall into whether the drug is fried chicken, cigarettes, vodka, legal or illegal drugs or other avenues that so many of use seem to find to address a problem that we are trying to deal with. It needs to be acknowledged for what it is. Self medication is not an excuse for our behavior but it may be a reason and it is up to us to find better ways to address the issue at hand. Not everyone has the insight or desire to do this and in some instances, the act of self medication can actually be healthier than some other options available, if it can be managed and there are people who self medicate who are relatively healthy and functional. Self medication does not mean that you are "in the gutter", totally dysfunctional or self destructive.

Since I started out by writing about alcoholic writers let me say that I do not think that alcohol is required to be a writer, I know many writers who never touch alcohol, or that being a writer is an excuse to be an alcoholic. Also, not all alcoholic writers are self medicating. That is just one reason a writer may become alcoholic. Some people should never drink. Sadly some should never take the first drink and yet until they do no one knows who they are unless there is a strong familial predisposition toward alcoholism and/or other types of addictive behavior. That might make one take into consideration the wisdom of avoiding that first drink.

The issue of self medication is a difficult one. I don't pretend to know all of the answers to or reasons for self medication. What I do know is that if one does self medicate or suspects same then one may wish to ferret out the reasons for this behavior and find ways to deal with the root problem in a healthier manner. As I have said above however, self medication may in fact, be the healthiest option available to someone. We all have to figure out these things for ourselves. As for me, I don't allow myself to drink anything alcoholic when my pain is severe. I don't want to go down that slippery slope. I am not going to rule out the occasional drink but that is a whole different ball of wax.

Ciao!

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