If learning your lesson was easy, it probably wouldn’t be much of a lesson, would it? Can you handle the challenge of recovery?
by David Silverman, MA, LMFT
t’s tempting to follow in the footsteps of great writers who used alcohol or other substances to boost their productivity. Tempting, maybe, but also long term most likely not such a great idea.
“Write drunk. Edit sober.”
This quote has been attributed to Hemingway, but the that’s been disputed. Regardless, it gives you an idea why writers do it. That first draft is so agonizing to get on paper. Staring at the blank page fills many writers with fear. Writing (drunk or high) can lower your inhibitions while you get it down for the first time.
Should you have trouble avoiding this temptation, be warned. While writing drunk and editing sober might work for a while on some level, think about the long term. All that drinking, or all those drugs, can affect your grasp on reality, your performance as a writer, your general level of functioning – not to mention your liver.
Why do writers have the worst track record of recovery in Hollywood?
Why is it worse for writers? Why is it harder to get sober for other creative professionals in town, like directors, producers, actors, rock musicians; and in another category… agents. Why? Because, all those performers and cut-throat business people, they’re on view every day, doing their work.
If they drink, everybody knows about it. If they drink on the set, people will smell the booze. If they smoke pot in their trailer, people will smell that, too. Too many witnesses.
Writers, on the other hand, can write in the privacy of their own homes, stoned, drunk or both. They don’t have to clock in. They can write all night. They can drink scotch and pop a handful of pills first thing in the morning. Nobody will be the wiser.
When do you decide to clean up your act? You’ll know when it’s time. Your life will start falling apart. You might be hiding your addiction from others in your life. You might have trouble paying the bills. You might not show up to meetings on time. Even worse, you could get a DUI. Speaking of which, why do people still get DUI’s when there’s Uber?
Reaching the decision to quit drinking or using drugs is the most important step in the process of recovery. If you’ve reached this decision and have time, you might need to be treated in a residential rehab for anywhere from 28 to 90 days.
Success in treatment involves developing a new way of life, with sober friends and supporters. It also involves getting to the cause of the addiction, and work towards removing that cause as a reason to self-medicate.
You’ll have to develop healthy ways of managing stress in this new way of life. If writing is a trigger, as it is for perfectionists, for example, getting sober will be a more difficult task….