One of the biggest misnomers many people have about art is that you need to suffer to be unhappy to create it. Now a number of musicians in recovery have proven that you can be sober and it won’t sacrifice your creativity, and Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails is one of them. 

Reznor told NME that he’s been sober for years after going through a very dark period in 1994 when he created the album The Downward Spiral. “I had romanticized the idea of what drugs and alcohol’s role in my life was…It wound up creating chaos and destroying things –destroying my creativity.”

After he got sober, it took time for Reznor to readjust, but many artists find their creativity didn’t go anywhere and can go back to making great art once they clean up their act. “There was an awkward adjustment of learning how to live without that. Once I got on stable ground and started to understand how my brain worked without all that, I can do more because I can remember what I did. I can think deeper about things.”

Reznor got help from the late David Bowie in overcoming addiction, and he says today, I’m inspired by how I feel, and I attempt to be as honest as I can be about those feelings. And it certainly hasn’t taken the edge off his work. Reznor still writes dark stuff, and says, “I’m allowed to go down some dark holes that I realized in sobriety I hadn’t allowed myself to do.”


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