Coleridge famously used opium and ended up with quite a dream. De Quincey was an addict as were many who took Quinine (opium being the active ingredient) for pain. Artists also take drugs because they are bored and they hear good things about getting ‘high’, and they seek the heightened intellectual response to reality drugs can give. Colours, sights, smells change as all the senses are effected.
This should be something of a creative activity although sadly it does often destroy the artist. But then everything destroys the artist eventually. You can have too much feeling and be overrun with the sheer immensity of the pain of the world, or the wonders of life, or the creative force of nature. I think people who talk about artists rarely ever realise what a dangerous kind of life it is to lead. One is always on the edge of oneself which is why some people with depression and mental disorders sometimes find an escape in the arts – even a therapy.
Loneliness comes with giving one’s life to an art form. A dedication that often leaves no room for anything else long-term. It is no surprise that artists in common with all who suffer, turn to drugs of one form or another.
Of course some artists don’t take drugs but their way of being an artist makes one think they do!