After school special: There are no shortcuts


The struggle to be the next best thing in any domain, sits on the shoulders of most teens. At one time or another, the dream of being the best pushes people to try. The desire to win and achieve greatness is so powerful, that many teens and adults will search for any and all shortcuts to higher levels of creativity; including substance abuse.

Misinformation from the source

Teenagers may grow up believing in shortcuts from cheating to using illicit substances and medications to increase focus or creativity. Yet people can become addicted to the substance along the way. Due to the critical misconception of certain substances initiating creativity, people start to believe drugs and alcohol can boost the quality of work and success.

One example is teenagers and the abuse of prescription stimulants such as Adderall. Many have the the impression Adderall will increase brain function. Partially from the pressures of school work and the desire to achieve greatness, students take substances without medical supervision. The abuse of these stimulants, “Can lead to malnutrition and its consequences,” whereas, “Repeated abuse of stimulants can lead to feelings of hostility and paranoia.” Yet celebrities in movies, music and other arts intimate drugs or alcohol were the source of their inspiration.

The danger in creativity

Galen Guengerich, Ph.D., explores the dangers of creativity and substance abuse. Guengerich lists authors from Hemingway to Kerouac, who were famously known as alcoholic writers, but adds, “Because of their talent, it’s easy to overlook their struggles with addiction—or even attribute their creativity to their reliance on alcohol and drugs.”

Guengerich explains that for creative people, “Looking at the world differently includes looking at rules differently.” In this sense, people striving for creative success may believe the substance will help them reach that goal. The cost of addiction is not worth the fame. Guengerich quotes F. Scott Fitzgerald in saying, “First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.” To spend time struggling with acquiring the substance and facing the addiction, is wasting the time one could use to work on the creative project.

When asked in an interview if drug use could increase talent in creative performance, Aldous Huxley explains, “You could never hope to reproduce to the full extent the quite incredible intensity of color that you get under the influence of the drug.” While someone could vaguely remember odd and dangerous experience under the influence, most would not find a consistent increase in performance. Parents can help a student understand the dangers of addiction to substances to avoid abusing them for a false belief of success. Explain life is not full of shortcuts and the pursuit thereof will result in a hollow existence of crawling from one substance to another.

White River Academy is a residential boarding school for boys 12 to 17, located at the edge of the majestic Great Basin in Delta, Utah. We have crafted deliberate and holistic treatments and activities to truncate negative patterns of behavior — whether caused by mental health disorders, or debilitating addictions. Our methods cultivate the creativity of the young man through the fertile soil of student-driven service projects and adjuncts to therapy. To learn more about our treatment modalities and curriculum, please call 866-520-0905.

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