Study busts myth that taking illegal drugs boosts creativity

Illegal drugs such as magic mushrooms and amphetamines do not inspire creativity, a study has found.

Research by the University of Essex and Humboldt University, Berlin, in the Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts journal, debunked the idea that taking illicit drugs or alcohol aids the creation of music, writing and art.

Instead, the researchers’ analysis of hundreds of papers found that training courses on the creative process had the most effective long-term results. Activities such as travelling to different cultures also expand the mind.

’No use’

Jennifer Haase of Humboldt University, a co-author of the study, said: “Ideas generated under the influence often seem disjointed or ill-suited as solutions later on. Given the numerous side-effects associated with drug use, it is scientifically unsound to recommend their consumption in pursuit of enhanced creative output.”

Dr Paul Hanel, from Essex University’s Department of Psychology, added: “It doesn’t do anything for creativity. People don’t benefit from it – it just has no effect at all.”

He said: “We believe it is a positive message that drugs do not enhance creativity, given the side effects of drugs.”

Prince Harry

The Duke of Sussex was widely criticised recently for suggesting that taking illegal drugs is a good way to cope with mental health problems.

Speaking to Dr Gabor Maté, an advocate for the decriminalisation of drugs, Prince Harry claimed cannabis and the hallucinogenic ayahuasca – which contains dimethyltryptamine (DMT) – had helped him deal with trauma.

DMT is a Class A drugs under UK law, and those convicted of dealing it can face life imprisonment. Supplying the Class B drug cannabis carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison and an unlimited fine.

NHS psychiatrist Dr Max Pemberton accused the Prince of “wading into the debate on mental health with reckless ignorance, oblivious to the facts and the catastrophic effects his words could have”.

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