Movie writer and director Aaron Sorkin has been highly praised for his contributions to cinema. From The Social Network to The American President, Sorkin has penned many of the film industry’s most notable works.
But in the screenwriter’s personal life, he was fighting a tough battle with his own addiction to drugs. And one of the reasons why Sorkin found it so difficult to quit his drug habit was because he feared losing his creative edge.
Aaron Sorkin once explained the simple way he got addicted to drugs
As some may know, Sorkin was a heavy drug user earlier in his career. His drug use came after the success of his first full-length play, A Few Good Men, which was adapted into the critically acclaimed movie starring Jack Nicholson. Recalling his past behavior, Sorkin confided that his path to drug abuse was simple.
“You know how I got addicted to cocaine? I tried it,” he once said according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The West Wing creator explained that his drug addiction didn’t have any extreme negative effects on his life at first. This made getting better even trickier for him.
“The problem with drugs is that they work, right up until the moment that they decimate your life,” he said.
Aaron Sorkin was concerned he’d get writer’s block from quitting drugs
Apart from the addictive qualities that Sorkin’s drugs had, the Steve Jobs screenwriter was also concerned quitting would lead to writer’s block. His colleague, the late Carrie Fischer, picked up on these concerns.
“’I know you think you’re not going to be able to write,” Sorkin remembered Fischer telling him. “’But I promise your writing is going to get better.”
In an interview with Men’s Journal, Sorkin delved a little bit deeper into these creative concerns of his.
“My big fear when I quit drugs was that I wouldn’t be able to write anymore. Because if you’re a writer and you’re on a roll – and I was on a roll when I was high – you don’t want to change anything about the way you work,” Sorkin said. “But I’m 11 years clean now, and I’ve been much more productive in those 11 years than I was in the 11 years prior. But even if I hadn’t been, it wouldn’t have been worth it.”
Michael Bay helped Aaron Sorkin test out if he could still write without drugs
Speaking with W magazine, he spoke about how challenging it was to stay away from drugs even while receiving treatment.
“I had what they call a ‘high bottom,’” he explained. “My life didn’t fall apart before I got into rehab. I didn’t lose my job or run over a kid or injure anyone when I was high. But the hardest thing I do every day is not take cocaine. You don’t get cured of addiction—you’re just in remission.”
He would also attend a small after-care group to help him recover. The fact that all of the members of this group were men only helped the process.
“We paid the counselor ourselves. All guys, which was probably better. Early on, if I went to an AA meeting and saw a beautiful woman talking about her hard-partying days, I’d think, Damn—I wish I knew her then. Of the six guys in my after-care group, two are dead,” he continued. “I have my scary moments. When I’m under an unusual amount of pressure, people wonder, ‘Will he relapse?’”
When he first became sober, Transformers director Michael Bay helped Sorkin test out his skills without drugs influencing his creativity. Sorkin would write a couple of lines of dialogue in Bay’s thriller The Rock, a task that Sorkin was glad to accomplish sober. But later on, he’d find another strong motivation to avoid a relapse in his daughter Roxy Sorkin.
“I was just writing quips for Sean Connery and Nic Cage, but the first time I wrote in the daytime, I was so proud. Now my firewall is Roxy. I’d let her down if I relapsed,” he confided.