Realistic Drug Use in Cinema

Washington, Colorado, Alaska, and Oregon have legalized pot, and other states are sure to follow. Libertarians and liberals say, "About time," while conservatives fear the slippery slope-influence of a "gateway drug." Which movies do the best job of either satirizing unnecessary fears of recreational drug use, or portraying the horrors of drug use? Which films do you think offer the most realistic portrayal of the use of alcohol, pot, cocaine, LSD (or other hallucinogens such as psilocybin mushrooms, peyote, etc.), and heroin, respectively? Why?

  • No discussion of this subject would be complete without mentioning the 1936 propaganda film, Reefer Madness, and the 2005 musical parody film of the same name. Together, they cover the full spectrum of hyper-conservativism and liberal satire. It is especially important to address how the former was rediscovered in the 1970s and usurped by youth culture as an "easy target for mocking" cult film, which ultimately gave rise to the latter. – ProtoCanon 6 years ago
  • Thanks. I'm writing an article about Offensive comedy right now and it's interesting to see George Carlin's remarks about drugs. He didn't do a complete 180, but he did say there's a point where the pain outweighed the pleasure. One of my favorite Carlin jokes about drugs is: "The problem with people petitioning about marijuana laws is that they can't remember where they put the petitions." – Tigey 6 years ago
  • I'm attached to this - even made a feature film on it myself with "Cleaners" back in 2011. I think there are many films with realistic depictions, but then some sensationalized work that makes for them less on realism and more as some kind of animated (and often comical) touch on a story that isn't interested in legitimacy. "The Panic in Needle Park", with Al Pacino and Kitty Winn, is a great film. It shows their aimlessness - and their hope for one another in a way that is unheard of during such a pinnacle post-"Midnight Cowboy" / Warhol and Morrissey cinema of neo-realism. – reesepd 6 years ago
  • reesepd, I'll see if I can find "Cleaners." It seems right now we're caught between the perils of self-medication and the medical industry pimping truth for the pharmaceuticals. – Tigey 6 years ago
  • I think "Requiem for a Dream" would be a perfect movie to illustrate the horrors of drug use. The horrific ending alone would perfectly show how drugs completely destroy people’s lives, as well as showing the highs of the drugs too (demonstrating why people choose to take them). "Trainspotting" is another example of a movie that shows a lot of the horrors of drug use (the toilet scene alone), as well as the obsessive nature of drugs. It could also be interesting to use this film, because the sequel is coming out at the beginning of next year, so it is relevant to bring up the original. – ojc131 6 years ago

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