Drug abuse and addiction are a public health problem to the tune of $181 billion for illegal drugs each year. The societal impact in the U.S. includes health care costs and costs related to crime besides the losses in productivity. Drug abuse and addiction contribute to family disintegration, unemployment, academic failure, domestic abuse, child abuse, and other crimes.
Options for drug treatment and therapy are as assorted as the types of drugs and drug users. A popular self-help method is journaling and keeping a diary. Addiction poems, addiction writing and addiction journals are creative outlets for people to write about their experiences. Creative writing allows people to explore issues of addiction and recovery. Writing can be about one’s own experience, or that of others.
The writing may be private or public. Private poems might offer someone the comfort of fully exploring issues of addiction and recovery. As art therapy, the healing nature of writing is more critical than the criticism of the poetry as art. For those who seek to share personal experiences through poetry, besides group therapy session sharing, and personal counseling, there are additional online avenues.
Addiction poetry might be from the perspective of an addict about their own addiction issues, the effects of his/her addiction, recovery, and struggles. Poetry might be by friends and family about their feelings, thoughts, or to celebrate an addicts’ recovery.
Song lyrics are often merely poetry set to music. Consequently, the music industry is filled with poetry about a variety of life issues. Unfortunately, the entertainment industry is filled with songs, plays books, TV, films and magazines that celebrate the upside of addiction issues, without always providing the full picture. The full picture of drug addiction includes not just the glamorization of the highs, but the destruction that results from the inevitable crash. On the other hand, there are many songs that serve as cautionary tales.
David Bowie’s “China Girl” , Nine Inch Nail’s Trent Reznor wrote “Hurt” wrote and sang about drug issues. Red Hot Chili Peppers front man, singer-songwriter Anthony Kiedis’s personal poem of his drug addiction struggles can be heard in “Under the Bridge” in the Red Hot Chili Peppers. “The Needle and the Damage Done” Neil Young’s cautionary testament to others to beware drugs. Guitarist Danny Whitten overdosed at age 29 after the song’s release. “I’ve seen the needle and the damage done/A little part of it in everyone/But every junkie’s like a settin’ sun,” Neil warned.
Keith Richards, of the rock band The Rolling Stones, is a walking testament, along with other rock industry giants, of the highs and lows of drug addiction. Song lyrics, and the musicians or song writers themselves may come forward to reveal personal struggles with addiction, not shying away from discussion in interviews, autobiographies, biographies or memoirs.
Jim Morrison of the Doors, who is credited with poetic skill, struggled not only with alcohol but drug abuse. Morrison included drug references in his lyrics. “The Crystal Ship” is a popular example. Morrison died of a drug overdose at age 27. Richard Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon died of an overdose at age 28 at the height of his career.
Talented musician and song writer James Taylor wrote elements of addiction poetry in his famous “Fire and Rain” song. “Won’t you look down upon me, Jesus/You’ve got to help me make a stand/You’ve just got to see me through another day/My body’s aching and my time is at hand/And I won’t make it any other way.”
In the cases of Keith Richards, Ozzy Osbourne, Joni Mitchell and James Taylor, their stories are cautionary tales of recovery. Unlike Jim Morrison of the Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Richard Shannon Hoon, and others, who while writing about their experiences through the poetry of song lyrics, lost their struggle with addiction.
Drug addiction poems can be part of a healing process as well as educational for all involved.