Many performers and other artists are highly sensitive, and some use drugs or behaviors to help deal with emotional overwhelm.
Musician Keith Urban once checked himself into a rehab center for alcohol abuse, with support from his wife, actor Nicole Kidman
She has been a smoker – another common form of addiction.
A number of other artists have sought treatment for drug or alcohol problems, including Haley Joel Osment (star of The Sixth Sense), Mel Gibson, Robin Williams, Robert Downey Jr., and soprano Andrea Gruber, who sang with the Metropolitan Opera.
An uncommonly sensitive nervous system can be overwhelming
Psychologist Elaine Aron identifies a highly sensitive person as someone having an uncommonly sensitive nervous system, and says it is a normal occurrence for about 15 to 20 percent of us.
“It means you are aware of subtleties in your surroundings, a great advantage in many situations,” she notes.
“It also means you are more easily overwhelmed when you have been out in a highly stimulating environment for too long, bombarded by sights and sounds until you are exhausted.”
One of her main books: The Highly Sensitive Person.
Demi Lovato entered a rehab program in 2010 and has been candid about her struggles with eating disorders, depression and addiction.
“I couldn’t go without 30 minutes to an hour without cocaine and I would bring it on airplanes,” she once commented.
Following the drug overdose death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman in 2014, Lovato “took to Twitter…slamming the glamorization of drug use in popular culture, in an effort to start a conversation about addiction,” a magazine article noted.
“I wish more people would lose the stigma and treat addiction as the deadly and serious DISEASE that it is,” she wrote.
“Drugs are not something to glamorize in pop music or film to portray as harmless recreational fun. It’s not cute, ‘cool’ or [admirable].
“It’s very rare when people can actually predict their addiction and even then, you never know when too much is going to take their life or take a bad batch of whatever it is their using.”
The article writer adds, “The former Disney star went on to say that artists should be conscious about what they are promoting in their songs.”
From Demi Lovato Talks About Drugs, Addiction After Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Death, By Cavan Sieczkowski, HuffPost 02/04/2014.
An article notes her book Staying Strong: 365 Days A Year was a New York Times bestseller, but Demi Lovato, “who has been open about having an eating disorder and suffering with depression in her teenage years, says that she still has to work hard at looking after her own well-being.”
Lovato says: “You have to stay strong, as my book says.
“I meditate in the morning and take ten minutes out of my day to read inspirational quotes that I’ve come up with on my own.
“I wanted to put them out there so that my fans would know how I’ve managed to stay strong.
“I worry about all the things I’ve experienced in the past which is why I always try to stay on top of it.”
From article: Meditation for Emotional Health and Creativity.
A destructive habit is a self-help strategy gone awry
Johnny Depp has blamed his previous alcohol addiction in his early movie career on his needing to block his discomfort.
He said in a magazine interview:
“I’d go to functions and back in those days I literally had to be drunk to be able to speak and get through it.
“I guess I was trying not to feel anything.
“My drug of choice back then was alcohol more than anything.”
Beverly Hills addiction psychologist Marc F. Kern, Ph.D. says that altering one’s state of consciousness is normal and that a destructive habit or addiction is “mostly an unconscious strategy” and “simply an adaptation that has gone awry.”
See more of his quotes in my article Gifted, Talented, Addicted.
Dealing with overwhelm
In their article A Bioanthropological Overview of Addiction, Doris F. Jonas, Ph.D. and A. David Jonas, M.D. write people sensitive to perceiving the minutest changes in their environment can become overwhelmed.
Those with less sensitive nervous systems are, they write, “better adapted to our more crowded living conditions.
“The more sensitive can only attempt to ease their discomfort by blunting their perceptions with alcohol or depressive drugs or, alternatively, by using consciousness-altering drugs to transport their senses from the dysphoric world in which they live to private worlds of their own.”
Fortunately, many gifted and talented actors, musicians and others have been able to stay healthy and use their high sensitivity to give us the pleasures of their performances and other creative work.
Growing Up Gifted Is Not Easy by Elaine Aron, PhD
Addiction and Creative People – This section of my book is not just about drug use and abuse – there are many forms of self-limiting addictive behavior that can interfere with realizing our creative and other talents.
Programs, books, articles and sites to improve your emotional wellbeing.