Professor John Donnelly
August 30, 2012
Edgar Allan Poe: The Impact of Drugs and Alcohol
“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dreamed before” (Edgar Allan Poe). Deep sadness, darkness and tragedy are all characteristics that can be used to describe Poe’s writings. Painful tragedies, such as the abandonment of his father, the death of his biological mother, the death of his adoptive mother and the death of his young wife Virginia were very important factors in shaping Poe’s style of writings and his development of the horror genera. Those tragedies came to shape more than just his writings, but his life as well. Poe is popularly referred to as an avid drinker as well as a habitual opium user. The tragedies Poe has faced in his life lead him to self-medicate by the means of alcohol, which in turn became the death of him, but his thought to be an opium user purely derives from his fictional writings.
Family members, classmates, depression and disasters influenced Poe to use alcohol. The possibilities of Poe being an alcoholic increased because of the environment and the society in which he grew up (Poe, Drugs and Alcohol 7). His father, David Poe Jr, was known for being a heavy drinker. Some accredit Poe’s abuse of alcohol to a genetic predisposition, which is concurrent with our up-to-date understanding of alcoholism. Depression and alcoholism started to appear in the passing of his late 20’s into his early 30’s. His addiction to alcohol started while he was attending the University of Virginia and was introduced to it by classmates (Poe, Drugs and Alcohol 9). During this time Poe was faced with heart problems and brain lesions which weaken him emotional and physically. He would in turn self-medicate with alcohol to take away his pain.