Pretty Little Pills: 4 Drugs I Use for Creativity

Andrew Baxter - Pyragraph
Photo by daniel sandoval.

I’m a stoner, and as fine as I am with that, my childhood self would never forgive me. Growing up, “pot head” competed with “booger-brains” and “dookie-breath” for sickest burn. But I’ve come back to drugs again and again since childhood to help me achieve the lofty goals my supposedly sober mind gets set on, be it writing an article a day or finishing that novel (jk, I can’t write novels). So from caffeine to olanzapine, here are the drugs I’ve learned to tame for the sake of creative expression.

Caffeine

No substance, controlled or otherwise, has had more direct positive impact on my ability to write than caffeine. When brain fog hits and I just want to get in a snuggie and cosy up with marijuana, caffeine kicks me from under the covers and sets me into high gear.

Want to leave the house without snotting like a toddler and crying on the bus?

Don’t be careless with caffeine consumption. Yes it will allow you the clarity to throw out crappy sentences and the confidence to leave good ones, but the caffeine high only lasts for about an hour. After that you can extend it for maybe another hour before you get the shakes. Look, you’ve drunk an ironic amount of coffee—so much joe that you can’t hold a cup of it without shaking the contents all over you nice white suit ’cause I’m picturing you as David Bowie, R.I.P.

So if caffeine only buzzes your brain for an hour—and believe me it takes more than that to produce a 600-word article—how do I sustain an interest for the hours it takes to produce content?

Marijuana

I work at a dispensary so getting high is, from time to time, literally my job. Cannabis has hundreds of different varieties, each with a wide array of effects: euphoria, contemplativeness, body pain relief, anti-carcinogenic effects, nerve pain relief, drowsiness, creative euphoria, the list goes on.

But one particular variety, AK-47, has the benefit of slowing down my racing thoughts. I can’t always get my hands on AK-47 so when I do I hoard it like leprechaun gold. Today though, I do have some and I’ve mixed a bowl with a cup of coffee to mind-bending effect. The self-doubt that side tracks any sober attempt at writing has been shut down by the cannabis and my impulse to stew over a sentence for hours is being cut out by caffeine. I call it the golden zone, that perfect point of induced creative fluidity, but, man, is it fleeting, peeling out after 30 minutes of heavenly high. But even steadfast marijuana isn’t my workhorse drug.

Atarax

Hydroxyzine, to be precise, does the heavy lifting in both my mental health and my creative expression. Ever have those days where all the problems in the world condense into a hot white ball of burning tension lodged between your throat and your diaphragm? Welcome to every anxiety-saturated day of my life. I deal by working out on the regular, eating like a rabbit, and chugging down that sweet sweet Hydroxyzine (Atarax) to put my worries at ease.

Atarax’s best quality is its day-long duration, which it shares with many of the other pharmaceuticals I use (Risperidone, Zoloft, Wellbutrin to name a few). But, like all corporate medicine, the side effects can be dangerous. Even one pill will erase three waking hours from my day with naps or simply missing time. This puts me in a weird spot; some days when I have tons of errands Atarax will actually slow me down, so I opt for the crushing anxiety until a day where it’s more convenient to not feel like every moment is a new excuse to panic.

Fluticasone, Olanzapine and Fluoxetine

I like to call it my daily corporate devotion, the drug cocktail that I swallow and squirt every morning regardless of how I feel and that keeps the gears of my life spinning. Want to leave the house without snotting like a toddler and crying on the bus? Better take your daily devotion to the corporate gods so that they may bestow onto me sanity.

Two years ago when I decided I wanted to be a writer I went through a few false starts, working for a month then ditching writing for a season. Ten months ago I was at a crossroads, sleeping in my car and contemplating suicide. It seemed I’d hit rock bottom and there was nowhere to go but on medication. Since then I’ve restarted a couple blogs and I’m 10 days into a 100-day essay-a-day challenge.


I dabble in other drugs: vicodin once or twice a year, shrooms once every other year, nicotine every other week. Am I an addict? I mean, I smoke weed several times a day and seem real crabby without it, I get withdrawals when I go off Atarax, and I never drink just the one cup of coffee I need to be productive.

For now I’m not too worried. All the drugs I take are the only reason I can manage to write every day, much less an entire article/essay. If any of my drugs gets in the way of my writing I’ll have to reconsider their effects. But for now, blaze on, Albuquerque, and write on too.
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