Writers are a strange lot. They are motivated by things that the average person probably does not know exists like offbeat noises or swirls of color, or all sorts of strange things that go bump in the night.
Someone I know has had a very tough life to date, which includes alcohol and drugs and lots of court dates and jail time. Through it all, those who know and love him, have always felt a spark that glowed, however dimly at times, but glowed nonetheless. I just had a call from his mother informing me that he has just completed his first semester of college and that one of his teachers has recommended that he follow a path towards creative writing.
If he decides to pursue this route, then he can finally find a purpose for those years in the wilderness as he draws upon the experience to fuel his creative juices. He won't be the first writer that had to escape hell first, before finding the passion of their life.
In this case, I really hope that he finds peace and success - good luck.