There aren't many people who would claim that drugs and other substances are good for you. Nor would they claim that they could make you more successful in life. However, there is a common belief that marijuana is different from most other drugs. Among these beliefs is that marijuana, or cannabis, can help inspire thoughts and creativity. Research shows that some who frequently use cannabis say that its mind-altering effects – the "high" – are also beneficial. They claim that it helps to relax them, which allows them to approach challenges and obstacles with clarity and calm. However, some may question how much of this theory results from the drug's direct impact and how much of it is perceived. You have likely heard artists such as actors and musicians tout cannabis' benefits, but are they only getting creative with the facts?
Is More Better?
Studies show that cannabis with a high concentration of THC does not improve creativity. During the study, smokers who ingested a low THC dose performed better in thinking tasks and puzzles that participants had to carry out instead of the participants who had a higher THC. Ultimately, a high THC dose revealed having a negative effect on identifying as many solutions as possible to a given problem.
Too much cannabis can become counterproductive. For example, if you want to overcome individual creative blocks such as writing or other creative gaps, using marijuana might not be the best solution. Smoking too much can dull the creative thinking process. High doses of THC can interfere with the brain processes involved in monitoring mistakes and therefore work less effectively. While more studies are needed, so far, studies show that high doses of THC seem to influence both the unconscious and processing of mistakes in the later and more conscious stages of error processing.
The Perception vs. Reality
Many who smoke marijuana perceive themselves as having more creative thoughts and ideas, supporting why so many artists and musicians praise the benefits. However, this perception might not be the reality – marijuana alters perceptions. Research on cannabis and creativity suggests that even if users feel more creative, it is only an illusion. Further, people may even be less creative after using it.
In a recent study, the effects of the drug on a measure of creativity called divergent thinking – which means brainstorming and seeking solutions to problems – were examined. After using both high and low doses of vapor containing no THC, the results surprised even the researchers: low amounts of cannabis did not affect the participants' ability to think creatively, compared to not taking cannabis. And high doses lowered their creativity – by a lot. It seems that feeling creative and being creative aren't the same thing. Further, one's expectations about a particular drug can profoundly impact how one reacts to it. For example, people who unknowingly received a placebo usually acted or corresponded to how they expected the drug to affect them.
Perhaps something that transcends cannabis’s relationship with creativity is one's personality. The statistical relationship between creativity and marijuana use vanishes when a person's openness to experience presents itself. The theory suggests that cannabis users are more open to experiences that might account for their higher creativity levels. Therefore, cannabis users may be more creative than non-users. However, this is not a direct result of cannabis use. Studies show that perhaps cannabis users have different personality traits than non-users, and this personality trait is both associated with cannabis use and heightened creativity. While cannabis does not increase creativity, a person who uses cannabis might also be more likely to have higher creativity levels.
Try Something New
Maybe the best way to get your creative juices flowing would be to try something new. Sometimes embarking on a journey to make something out of nothing can help combine your existing ideas and experiences to create new ones. If you keep using the same inputs, you are likely to have the same outputs. Finding a new input does not need to require significant change. Try traveling a different route to work or shuffling the deck on your schedule. For example, maybe you shower before bed instead of upon waking. You can even read a book on a subject you have not ever explored. Taking time to expand your mind by learning new skills and being open to new experiences can improve your ability to create without thinking you need to rely on drugs and substances to accomplish your goals.
If there is anything to take away from the recent studies on cannabis and its relationship with creativity, it's that your mind, including your beliefs, has a lot more power than you think. You do not need to use marijuana to get the effect you expect; it works best if you don't. At START UP RECOVERY, we work toward helping you expand upon your horizons from an internal and organic place. We understand that at different intervals, creativity might flee; however, participating in ways that help shift your perspective and expand your knowledge offers healthier and longer-lasting ways to fulfill your creative output. If you are considering turning to drugs and other substances to spark your creativity, it is time to reach out for help. With 24/7 admissions, there is never a wrong time to reach out, even if only to ask a question. To learn more, reach out to START UP today by calling us at 310-773-3809.