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Alcohol and drug abuse: The pop icon Jim Morrison

Rainer M. Holm-Hadulla, Alina Bertolino

The article explains the case of a famous pop icon of the 20th century Jim Morrison
and investigates the relationship between alcohol and drug abuse and creativity. For
thousands of years many of us have held the assumption that alcohol and drugs
enhance the creativity. It has been found that performing artists and jazz and pop
musicians consume more alcohol than the average population. The mortality rate is
higher for the pop musicians due to excess consumption of alcohol and drugs than
the average population. Thus, in this study researchers have tried to find out that
whether alcohol and drugs enhance creativity in their performance or not. A
publication by Tolson and Cuyjet found that certain artists can remain creative in
spite of substance addiction. A detailed case history of Jim Morrison was conducted
as he used alcohol and drugs to enhance his creativity. The ‘empirical basis’ has
been found in Morrison’s poems, songs and interviews as well as from his family,
friends, colleagues and biographers. Alcohol and drugs served as a biggest change
in his lifestyle, striving for authenticity, to enhance personal self-actualization and
social protest. Jim Morrison was a highly intelligent and a talented writer, singer and
a performer. Morrison’s skills were extraordinary and he had mastered a lot of
literary forms. Due to his past terrible experiences in childhood such as neglected by
his mother and other traumatic events had led him to move away from the world and
indulge in the alcohol and drugs consumption. First, he thought that the drugs and
alcohol are increasing his creativity skills therefore he started taking excessively
which led him to the destruction of himself. It weakened his resilience and to
elaborate his inspirations and thereby to ‘confirm his existence.’ Thus, there was no
indication as such whether the drugs or alcohol really enhanced the creativity level.

Use of drugs by Jazz Musicians

Charles Winick

The article explains the use of narcotic drugs used by jazz musicians. 690 musicians
were contacted for this study and 409 consented for the interview and out of which
357 were appropriate or valid. 281 people who refused to take part in this study was
because of the length of the musical experience or race. The average age of
musicians interviewed vary from 18 to 54 years and had a mean of 13 years of
professional experience in music. Each individual was asked to report the drug use
behavior of each of the members in their band except themselves. Despite this 67%
reported their own behavior. It was found that 82% had tried marijuana at least once,
54% were occasional users and 23% were regular users based on their individual
reports. It was also found that 53% had use heroin at least once, 24% were
occasional users and 16% were regular users. A small percentage of people were
reported using cocaine because of its high cost. Some studies suggest that
marijuana lead to temporary psychosis [12]. It was observed that 69% of the
marijuana users seemed to behave in an agitated way whereas heroin users showed
this behavior more frequently because of its serious reaction to the lack of drug. It
was found that 31% believed that these drugs enhance their performance especially
if they were taking marijuana. It was reported that marijuana itself led to the ‘musical
humor and whimsy.’ Heroin was considered as a “hard stuff” and was considered
serious and damaging to the body. Some of the social factors that affected the drug
use was the climate of the band itself. The drug using musicians helped other users
to get the job in their bands so as to maximize the supply of the drugs. Another was
the effect of “one-nighter” dance or party club. The musicians travelled to long
distances for their performance. They were so tired before the performance that they
would rely on drugs to keep them fresh during the performance. Some of the
sociological variables that affected the drug use are-
Race – It was found that 73% of white and 27% of Negros were occasional or
regular users of marijuana and 67% of whites and 33% of Negros were occasional or
regular users of Heroin.
Age – It was prevalent in all the age group but more commonly among the younger
musicians. Marijuana was considered as an intermittent activity to which the users
wound irregularly return to it over a prolonged period of time whereas heroin was
considered as an intensive but for a shorter period of time.
Professional success – The author divided the drug users into three categories –
non-users of either marijuana or heroin, regular or occasional users of marijuana and
regular or occasional users of heroin. Thus, no significant difference was found
between the drug-users and non-users.
Classical musicians – No case of drug-use was found in classical musicians because
they have more social responsibility and tend to conform more than jazz musicians.
 Both the studies have tried to find out whether the jazz musicians tend to
consume more drugs or alcohol and its effects on them

 In the first study it was found that the use of drugs was mainly because of the
past childhood or traumatic experiences whereas in the second study it was
found that various factors contribute towards the drug use such as social
 The first study talks more about the use of drugs and its effect on creativity
aspect whereas the second study talks about drugs and its effect in general
such as its effect on their body (health).

Holm-Hadulla, R.M., Bertolino, A., Alcohol and drug abuse: The pop icon Jim

Winick, C., The Use Of Drugs By Jazz Musicians, Oxford University Press on behalf
of the Society for the Study of Social Problems
 , Retrieved from

Mayor's Committee on Marijuana, The Marijuana Problem in the City of New York
(Lancaster: Jacques Cattell Press, 1944), 81-101