Many of us have heard of the hilariously awful depictions of drug use in movies such as Reefer Madness and the like. Numerous filmmakers have attempted to recreate the swirling, psychedelic, and sometimes psychotic effects of drugs, but often times these efforts fall a bit short. Yet, through the years some expert directors and teams have been able to achieve the unattainable by making the viewer sincerely feel as if they were experiencing it for themselves, which is no easy feat. So, if you were always curious about what taking drugs was like, you need never actually partake in the act yourself. Simply watch a few of these cinematic drug trips and you’ll be deterred from the nasty stuff forever. Here are 3 Most Accurately Portrayed Drug Addictions in Movies:



No other film has ever made me feel quite as restless as this movie does. Watching addicts who use meth always make me feel so cringey. A substance that is so potent and addictive truly scares the hell out of me. The plot centers around Jason Schwartzman’s character, Ross, and his “adventures” using drugs. He meets several nefarious characters including Nikki, played by Brittany Murphy, who tags along with him for most of the film. Ross is forced into giving Nikki and her boyfriend, the meth dealer and cook, various rides around town in exchange for drugs.

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A scene near the end of the film superbly pinpoints the dizzying mind of a meth addict. Ross and Nikki are driving seemingly nowhere while explaining how not addicted to drugs they are, how they’ve got it all together, and the overall fairy tale land they live in where everything in their lives is perfect. Nikki reveals that she has a son that she hasn’t seen in a couple of years. She makes the statement, “It’s weird cus stuff happens and you don’t really notice it while it’s happening, life is sort of passing by”. I think that accurately describes the gross whirlwind that is the movie Spun.


Drug Addiction

Although undoubtedly jarring and disturbing, this film does an excellent job of making me feel like I need to take a shower after watching it. The movie takes place in Scotland, surrounding the lives of 5 heroin junkies. However, these guys will take just about any drug they can get their hands on. Each of them says they want to get clean and stay that way. The problem is, they keep hanging around each other and if one of them is using then the rest of them are too. Not to mention, their constant battle with methadone from the local clinic. Most of the guys try to quit “cold turkey” at one point or another, which results in extreme depression and ultimately relapse.

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For example, one of their friends Tommy (Kevin McKidd), who has never touched drugs in his life (aside from alcohol), goes through a nasty breakup and decides he wants to see what all the fuss is about. After much discouraging from his friend, Ewan McGregor (as the main character Renton), he shoots his friend up with heroin. Needless to say, his Tommy’s life is ruined. Some time later after sobering up, Renton goes to see his friend and finds him living in filth, now diagnosed with aids due to sharing needles. My heart breaks for him every single time I see it.

The Basketball Diaries

The Basket Ball Diaries

I originally had this film suggested to me by a friend and put off watching it for quite a while because I thought it was going to just be a cheesy 90s movie about basketball. So, imagine my surprise when I popped on this little gem. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as a young teenaged New Yorker causing mayhem with a few of his buddies. Unfortunately, it quickly shifts from childlike fun and wonder to adult-themed shenanigans and drug use.

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In particular, there is one scene that always sends a shiver up my spine. Leonardo’s character, Jim, has been on a heroin binge for some time and slowly makes his way back to his mother’s (Lorraine Bracco) house in order to score a few bucks for more drugs just a his withdrawal symptoms really start to kick in. His mother delivers a heart wrenching performance as she can no longer watch her son kill himself. She refuses to give him any money as she listens to his cries outside of her front door. It’s enough to make the toughest person tear up and it’s enough to make anyone stay away from the needle.

Honorable Mentions Related to Drug Addiction

Also, Read : 12 Films That Explore Mental Illness

These 3 films just so happen to be my personal favorite and most moving portrayals on film. However, there are many other excellent film adaptations of drug addiction out there. Here are a few extra that are definitely worth watching.

The Wolf of The Wall Street

Drug Addiction

Although this movie is majorly laced with comedic scenes, Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill’s performances are so great that you’ll never think twice about them being raging drug addicts. The duo share experiences with countless drugs such as cocaine, adderall, Xanax, morphine, and largely Quaaludes – yikes.

Requiem for a Dream

Drug Addiction

This movie is a trip, to say the least. It’s worth seeing for the stunning visuals alone, but the performances of Jared Leto and Ellen Burstyn are sure to leave you captivated. Everyone does drugs in this film, literally everyone. Even Jared’s sweet mother Ellen gets sucked into a “diet pill” craze and slowly slips into madness. In the end, Jared Leto’s character comes to reap what he sows, and it’s not pretty.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Drug Addiction

Swirling casino carpets, giant lizard people, and demon carnival rides is what you can expect from Fear and Loathing. The film follows Depp and his “attorney” Benicio Del Toro through their drugged up misadventures through Las Vegas. Following Johnny Depp’s cartoon-esque depiction of a drug addict high on LSD (and many other drugs) is honestly fascinating to watch. Although exaggerated, Depp does an impressive job of slipping into the paranoid mind of someone addicted to hallucinogens.

Author: Trisha Miller

Trisha is a writer from Boise, ID. She is a dedicated vegan, cinema nerd, and amateur SFX artist. You can find her on twitter @thatdangvegan or check out her blog

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