Some of these highly accomplished individuals turned to drugs for recreation, inspiration, or self-medication. Other promoted or pushed drug use, not knowing how dangerous the “elixirs” would later prove to be. Here are 10 highly accomplished people who pushed or used drugs.
Thomas Edison was an American inventor who invented devices like the motion picture camera and the electric light bulb. During his lifetime, cocaine may not have been seen as a “problematic” substance. In fact, cocaine elixirs were common amongst all social classes between the 1850s and 1900s. Edison even promoted the use of them.
It was revealed in a biography that the famous thriller novelist who brought us “The Shining” and “Carrie” spent much of the ’80s drunk or high on cocaine, and couldn’t even remember writing many of his books.
The author of “Oliver Twist” was reportedly addicted to opium and even in his final unpublished work, “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” Dickens describes opium dens with what seems like great familiarity.
The aviator and business tycoon was addicted to valium and cocaine. Hughes had a private pilot fly him around for nearly a year (Hughes would normally fly the plane himself), so that he could indulge in his addiction. Hughes also developed an addiction to codeine, which was found in his system in an autopsy.
Philip K. Dick was an author whose books were turned into popular movies such as “Minority Report” and “Total Recall.” Dick suffered from schizophrenia and reportedly self-medicated with many different drugs. In fact, after his fourth divorce, Dick opened up his home to other drug addicts and drug dealers—the kind of characters depicted in one of his novels.
The famous psychologist wrote research papers detailing how he’d used cocaine to alleviate depression and anxiety, and recommended the drug to his patients. However, Freud later wrote that cocaine negatively affected his clarity of thought. Towards the end of his studies of the drug, Freud wrote the he was “eager to conclude” them.
The post-Impressionist painter suffered from epilepsy, and to relieve some of his symptoms, he drank absinthe heavily—a toxic alcohol that, unfortunately, only aggravated Van Gogh’s epilepsy.
The neuroscientist who created the Marine Mammal Protection Act was known to have experimented with several drugs. As part of his studies of consciousness, Lilly took large amounts of LSD—a psychedelic drug.
Born in 1875, Crowley was an English magician, novelist and documented heroin addict who detailed his experiences with drugs in his 1922 novel, “Diary of a Drug Fiend.” The story is about a couple passionately in love who embark on a drug binge across Europe. Crowley died in 1947.
A leading figure in the pop art movement, Warhol used several types of drugs to keep himself inspired and energized. He was known to use heroin as well as a diet pill, Obetrol, known to have Adderall-like effects. Warhol’s works include some of the most expensive pieces ever sold. In May, two Warhol pieces sold for more than $100 million, including a Marilyn Monroe painting that fetched more than twice the expected amount, according to the LATimes.