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The Geniuses who Owe Their Inspiration to Drugs


History is rife with examples of talented individuals whose life was cut short by drug abuse and addiction. The deaths of Jean-Michel Basquiat, John Belushi and more recently, Philip Seymour Hoffman, serve as a cautionary tale as to how great talent can be lost forever due to dangerous chemical addiction.

While drug use has its obvious risks, there are also plenty of examples of geniuses in the fields of art and science using illegal drugs as a form of inspiration. Some of the greatest modern world masterpieces were in fact the result of their creators falling under the influence. Here are some of these.

Thomas Edison


Unarguably, Edison was one of the greatest inventors the world has ever known. There are over 1000 patents to his name. The inventor's productivity, alongside the sleepless nights, he owed to his frequent use of a cocktail containing generous quantities of cocaine, known as a Vin Mariani. The beverage consisted in essence of red wine with coca leaves and the active ingredient in cocaine. The special drink had plenty of fans among high society, the most famous among them including president William McKinley and pope Leo XIII. The latter even awarded a medal to the cocktail's creator - Angelo Mariani.

Friedrich Nietzsche


The renowned German philosopher turned to drugs in the last years of his life, becoming addicted to opium. At the height of his addiction, he wrote one of his greatest works. Whether due to the drug's effects or supernatural inspiration, he wrote the voluminous On the Genealogy of Morality in a little over 2 weeks' time.

Pablo Picasso

Picasso is considered perhaps the most influential artist of the 20th century. Throughout his entire creative journey he experimented with innovative techniques, such as Cubism for example. Another field he experimented in was psychotropic drugs. Many believe Picasso's Cubism to be a direct result of his use of opium, morphine and hashish. One look at some of the master's creative undertakings reveals plenty about the way Picasso saw the world - to him it was quite a different one.

Steve Jobs


It's a well-known fact that Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was a fan of LSD. "It was a positive, life-changing experience for me and I'm glad I went through it, " Jobs said of the drug. There's theories that his frequent use of LSD and marijuana were the cause of Jobs's first conflict with Apple in 1980.