Geniuses Who Used Drugs To Inspire Their Best Work

Steve Jobs: LSD. Jobs credits a lot of his innovative talents to experimenting with LSD at a younger age. He says his forays into LSD use was “one of the two or three most important things he had done in his life.”

Sigmund Freud: Cocaine. Freud was an advocate of using controlled doses of cocaine regularly. Of the drug, he says: “If all goes well, I will write an essay and I expect it will win its place in therapeutics by the side of morphine and superior to it…I take very small doses of it regularly against depression and with the most brilliant of success.”

Bill Gates: LSD. Back in those days, even the brightest minds experimented. Bill Gates has said, of his drug use: “There were things I did under the age of 25 that I ended up not doing subsequently.”

Carl Sagan: Marijuana. Pioneering astrophysicist Carl Sagan openly discussed his smoking habits, and made cases for the medical legalization of the drug. He once wrote an essay called Marijuana Reconsidered, where he talked about the benefits of the drug.

Richard Feynman: LSD, marijuana and Ketamine. Feynman dabbled in different drugs, but stopped using when he feared he was getting addicted. He once wrote that he got “such fun out of thinking that I don’t want to destroy this most pleasant machine that makes life such a big kick.”

Francis Crick: LSD. Ever wondered whether acid played a role in the discovered of the double helix? Crick, while working with Watson and Franklin on their DNA structure experiments, took LSD.

Thomas Edison: Cocaine. This American inventor used the cocaine of the day – Bordeaux wine laced with coca leaves, a plant that’s the main ingredient in cocaine.

John C. Lilly: LSD and Ketamine.Lilly’s work with electrical brain stimulation was absolutely groundbreaking, and some of that might be due to his experiments with LSD and Ketamine.

Paul Erdos: Amphetamines. This eccentric mathematician made outstanding contributions to the field in the 20th century, and it seems like his amphetamines had a lot to do with it. He was once challenged by a friend to go clean for month – he won the bet, but couldn’t do any math during that time.

Friedrich Nietzsche: Opium. He’s one of the most celebrated philosophers of his time, but the German’s notions were perhaps influenced by drugs. He wrote The Genealogy of Mortals during a two-week opium binge.

Pablo Picasso: Opium, morphine and hashish. He’s easily one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, but some critics, and some fans, believe that cubism was a result of some psychotropic drugs. Sure, we know Pablo used, but would he still have produced cubism without it? No one knows.

Dr. William Stewart Halsted: Cocaine. This pioneering doctor is credited with inventing the mastectomy, a procedure that’s now saved countless lives. Cocaine played a large part in his career: he sued it both as an anaesthetic for his patients and as a recreational drug for himself.

Howard Hughes: Codeine and Valium. Howard Hughes was a pioneering aviator and film director. He found that Codeine and Valium helped him pack a whole lot of achievements into one lifetime.

Aldous Huxley. The great novelist and screenwriter Aldous Huxley wrote a masterpiece in Brave New World but sought and failed to find continued inspiration from religion. After trying many belief systems, Huxley turned to drugs as a means of cultivating a personal philosophy. During this time period he wrote The Doors of Perception.

Ralph Steadman: LSD. Steadman was the illustrator behind the works of Hunter S. Thompson. Anyone who knows anything about Thompson probably realizes that if you were around him long enough, you were going to take drugs. Steadman’s first experience with drug use came after he asked the famous Gonzo writer for something to battle sea sickness – Thompson gave Steadman LSD.

The Beatles: LSD. After experiencing LSD, George Harrison and John Lennon said that they just couldn’t relate to Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr anymore because they had never taken the drug. The clean cut boys from Liverpool all eventually got a ticket to ride the LSD train and they also credited the drug for allowing their creativity to evolve into the late 60s and beyond.

Alejandro Jodorowsky: LSD. Jodorowsky explains he only took LSD one time, which was in between the directors two biggest films: El Topo and The Holy Mountain. The director states that he brought a guru with him to administer the drug: “He gave me LSD, and I was initiated for eight hours. And this was an incredible resource; directed by the guru, I discovered images of my mind there, I discovered treasures inside me. That was a big revolution, I must say.”

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