On Air
0:00
0:00
Open In Popup
MPR News

A story of addiction and creativity with author Leslie Jamison

Share story

Author Leslie Jamison's story of alcohol addiction and recovery examines loneliness, alcohol abuse and the artistic process. She and Dr. Joseph Lee — medical director for Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation's youth services — discussed the process of recovery from alcohol substance abuse with host Kerri Miller.

There's a mythology that people hold that, as Kerri put it, "there's something glamour and interesting if a writer is a slave to their addictions."

"It was a fear that I had when I was drinking," Jamison said.

She thought that her addictive drinking was a "sign of interior darkness." The same darkness that would propel her to write great work like writers of the past.

"I had inherited many of those legends, and that fear that somehow getting sober was going to do something to my creativity, was tied up with the fear that almost any addicted user has, which is 'what is life going to look like without this substance?'" she said.

Dr. Lee said he sees similar concerns among other young people who struggle with addictions.

"Leslie did a beautiful job [in her book] of describing why that's not true," he said.

Artists may be eccentric, but their creations come from hard work.

"They're not self-destructive. I thought it was a very hopeful message," he said about Jamison's story.

Kerri asked for callers to weigh in on their recoveries and what it meant to them. 

Leslie Jamison is the author of "The Recovering: Intoxication and its Aftermath." 

 Use the audio player above to listen to the discussion.