Get Creative; get Famous; get Addicted and join the 27Club

Amy Winehouse at Glastonbury 2008            (Image: Rex Features James McCauley/Rex)

Amy Winehouse at Glastonbury 2008
(Image: Rex Features James McCauley/Rex)

Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse all died at the age of 27 and joined the 27Club.

Is there an explanation involving brain chemicals?

The short answer is NO, but there may be some underlying causes that produced the coincidences.

There are some brain things to know before you can fill your glass (with the deadliest drug of all: ethanol) and speculate.

Neurotransmitters in the brain are usually in a delicate balance. Interference, by taking drugs that mimic them, has dire consequences for that balance

Brain chemicals Venn Diagram (Image:

Brain chemicals Venn Diagram (Image:

The cells of your brain run on some powerful chemicals called neurotransmitters.

Some, such as dopamine and serotonin, make you happy (euphoric sometimes) and others such as adrenaline make you driven and attentive.

These are quite natural and they give rise to your reality when they are in some sort of balance. But, it's not so simple because there is genetic variation between individuals so that some people need to take huge risks before they feel a thrill.

Others only need a moth to fly into their faces to be terrified for hours.

Mess with these chemicals either through your behaviour or by taking chemicals that mimic them (ethanol, heroin, amphetamines, cocaine, THC) and your brain cells start to become resistant to them.

There is a deadly timeline for young people which could end around the age of 27

The science of addiction, the myth of choice (Image:

The science of addiction, the myth of choice (Image:

Here's the deadly chain which can kill:

  • Young creative person, who is genetically resistant to happy brain chemicals (dopamine), gets off on acclaim and attention (adrenaline, dopamine, serotonin).
  • Finds she is more creative after a 'few drinks' (ethanol -dopamine release).
  • Builds up resistance and needs to drink more and more to be creative.
  • Becomes famous and gets off on audience adulation (dopamine, oxytocin).
  • Gets the money to buy drugs.
  • Is introduced to other chemicals which have similar effects (cocaine, amphetamines, heroin).
  • Builds resistance and needs higher and higher doses.
  • Health deteriorates; self-control is gone; the wild spiral with increasing drug taking and declining physical and mental health begins.
  • Death is likely unless a rescue appears.
  • Joins 27 Club.

Jimi Hendrix is another famous member of 27Club (Image:

Jimi Hendrix is another famous member of 27Club (Image:

The entertainment industry 'devours' young people like this:
18 years – Talent discovered;
21 years – Fame and drugs;
24 years – toxic spiral;
Death around 27 years.

Not all individuals die; some even give up taking drugs as they mature


Keith Richards is perhaps the ultimate survivor (Image:

Keith Richards is perhaps the ultimate survivor (Image:

There are some significant escapees:

Keith Richards; Courtney Love; Robin Williams; Drew Barrymore; Lou Reed; Angelina Jolie.

Robert Downey Jr. Los Angeles Court Transcript:

"Is there any question that if this defendant continues to use drugs we're going to be reading his name in an obituary?" Mira said. "We tried rehabilitation and it simply hasn't worked."

Downey was first arrested in June 1996 (aged 31), when he was pulled over in his pickup and found to be in possession of cocaine, heroin and a pistol. He was arrested two weeks later after he stumbled into a neighbor's Malibu home under the influence of drugs.

Downey, who won an Academy Award nomination for his performance in the movie "Chaplin," was placed on probation and ordered to undergo drug counseling. Treatment included two in-custody "lock-down" programs, two residential programs and two outpatient rehabilitation programs.

Downey violated his probation three times by failing to submit to drug testing, according to court records.

He was represented in court Thursday by lawyer Robert Shapiro, one in a string of defense attorneys that the judge described as a "who's who of the criminal bar in Los Angeles."

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