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Drugsare Bad
That's right folks. Charlie Sheen lied to you.
"Drugs are bad, m'kay. You shouldn't do drugs. If you do them, you're bad, because drugs are bad, m'kay. It's a bad thing to do drugs, so don't be bad by doing drugs, m'kay, that'd be bad."
Mr. Mackey, South Park, "Ike's Wee Wee"

"Don't do drugs" is a stock aesop that has been sledgehammered into children's television shows at the request of the United States government. It usually results in anvilicious moralizing and very special episodes.

Although drugs, both legal and illegal, can have devastating effects on the lives of their users, Drugs Are Bad shows and commercials often exaggerate how bad they actually are, very commonly becoming a Clueless Aesop with all the Narm associated with it. Often, even the villains of shows, when presented with an opportunity to sell drugs for profit, will decline on the grounds that Even Evil Has Standards.

Alternatively, drugs make people feel wonderful the first time they take them, but every subsequent time the same drug (or a harder one) makes them feel like worse than Hell. But it's too late, because they're already "hooked" after the first time, and according to the gateway drug theory, if you give a teen a marijuana cigarette, he'll inevitably wind up doing something harder. While this theory has a degree of basis in reality, it's not the inevitable result of a little mild experimentation.

Note that the full name of the trope should be "Recreational Drugs Are Bad". If you or the characters take the title at face value, you've got a case of Mistaken for Junkie.

See also The Aggressive Drug Dealer, that monster from the '90s who finds middle-class suburbanite kids wherever they are and forces them to take his drugs. Contrast Functional Addict, where the negative effects of drugs are not portrayed as intensely. For the opposite of this trope, when drugs and drug use are portrayed positively, see Drugs Are Good.

Please don't use real life examples. This page is not about whether drugs are actually bad; it is about how said badness is depicted in the media.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 
  • The famous "This Is Your Brain On Drugs" TV Public Service Announcement.
    • Parodied in a Bizarro comic which has four images: Your Brain=An egg, Your Brain on drugs= A fried egg, Your Brain with Bacon= A fried egg with Bacon, Your brains mother= A hen.
    • Also parodied by the Freak Brothers; "This is your brain" (an egg), "This is drugs" (a frying pan), "This is your brain on drugs, any questions?" (an actual brain dangled by the spinal cord).
    • And of course, the unforgettable "This Is Your Brain On Heroin" version.
  • Avoided in commercials running on Canadian television: the message isn't that smoking marijuana is going to ruin your life, but that getting high and then driving, like drinking and driving, is a stupid idea.
    • They've dabbled in it during The Oughties, but backed down.
  • One Ad Council Public Service Announcement has a girl's dog tell her he wishes she would stop smoking marijuana. (Hmmm, if she was high, that might happen...) Left unsaid was that if your dog is talking to you, you have much larger problems than smoking marijuana. The dog talking ad is brilliantly parodied by College Humor here.
    • This kind of PSA is parodied in Harold And Kumar Go To White Castle when the titular characters are watching television. One teen pressures another teen into smoking marijuana; shortly afterwards, the kid grabs a rifle, aims it directly at his face, and pulls the trigger, thinking that he's invincible. Cue the Space Whale Aesop.
      • This was probably a direct parody of an ad that pretty much had that same set-up: two thirteen-year-old boys are smoking marijuana in one boy's father's office, and the father left a gun on the table. One boy asks if it's loaded; the other said no and shot it at his friend, not realising it actually was loaded and apparently killing his friend.
  • The British Talk To FRANK service originated as a comparatively neutral source of information about drugs, but gradually started becoming more and more Anvilicious in their advertising.
  • The Broken Aesop shown at the top of this page, where the Washington, D.C. based "People's Drug" had notices on their shopping bags not to use the very type of product which is part of their name. Might be one of the reasons they ended up being sold to the CVS drugstore chain.
  • In a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles PSA, the turtles' anti-drugs message is undermined by Michelangelo's anti-munchies advice: "Get a pizza!". It also contains a hilariously Lame Comeback to an insult: "I'm not a chicken; you're a turkey!"
    • Calling someone a "chicken" is technically a bad insult already.
  • A PSA made for the movie Gremlins showed the dangers of alcohol abuse.
  • Pee Wee Herman made this anti-crack PSA as a part of his community service after his arrest for pleasuring himself in an X-rated movie theatre.
  • The infamous "I tried pot once, now I'm gay" print ad by Christians For Michele Bachmann.
  • Recently, "The Real Cost of Smoking" ads focus on some of the most superficial effects smoking has, appealing to younger smokers' vanity.
  • There was a PSA on The N back in The Noughties where an old man sings about tobacco to some teenagers.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Japanese culture frowns upon psychoactive drugs, and especially marijuana. In addition to the extremely strict laws against possessing or using in any way shape or form, there is a severe social stigma against the usage.
    • It definitely doesn't help that there is an entire subgenre of hentai works where one or more victims are forcibly hooked onto drugs to turn them into sex slaves incapable of saying no if they want to get their fix.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure part 5 features Giorno who tries to rise in the mafia, and he and many others in his Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits thinks that the part of the mafia focusing on drugs are the evil parts. Assassination? It's ok. "Protection services"? Fine and dandy. Drugs? Horror that must be defeated.
    • To be fair, the author is from a country where trying to take a box of Sudafeds through customs will win you a body cavity search, but the Yakuza can openly run charities...
  • An addiction to drugs was the cause of Gilbert's death in Kaze to Ki no Uta, along with forgetting to Look Both Ways.
  • In Code Geass, there's the drug "Refrain", which helps the user not worry about the bad things. Anyone not using it are against it and willing to go to extremes to get rid of it (such as sinking a freighter carrying trace amounts of it). Of course, that's because it's addictive, and seemingly causes neural degeneration. The one user with a name starts off dropping breakable things all the time, then, after taking a dose, spends the next season and a half in a bed, incapable of moving under her own power, and doesn't speak. It's fairly reminiscent of a stroke victim. And that's not even getting into the fact that its heavily implied to be specifically engineered as a weapon against the Elevens (before all the side effects, it lets the users relieve happier memories, so its very popular with the conquered citizens).
  • In Gundam SEED and Gundam Seed Destiny there's the drug used to make Naturals able to fight on par with Coordinators, with the result of getting mentally unstable, psychotic pilots, who need a new injection every few hours. Anyone ever seen using the drug dies a more horrible death than anyone else (except for Stella, who dies in Shinn's arms).
  • In Full Metal Panic!, one of the more focused on aspects of the evil of Amalgam is the fact that they drug the girls they kidnap along with their AS pilots (in order to induce the Ax-Crazy psychological effects necessary). The fact that the organization goes around causing wars and mass destruction doesn't seem to hit Sousuke nearly as hard as the fact that they kidnap and drug girls (causing them to go crazy and become addicted). Then again, death has never been considered very important or horrible in Sousuke's mind...
  • One issue of Gantz featured a rival team whose use of drugs (and listening to music) during a mission was used to show how irresponsible they were. It also featured a hilarious overreaction on the part of the protagonists. "That ain't tobacco! It's grass... weed... ganja!"
  • Even One Piece shows the evil of drugs. The Fantastic Drug, Energy Steroids that the New Fishman pirates used to get themselves strength boosts comes back to bite them in the butt when it causes them to age into old, frail men.
  • One episode of the English Sailor Moon had this line in a Sailor Says segment:
    Serena: As long as we don't get into things other people want, like drugs and other bad stuff!
  • In the episode of Mew Mew Power where Kiki becomes a Mew Mew, when Kiki asks for a tip (She was asking for the kind of tip with money), Zoey tells her, "Don't do drugs, and stay in school!"
  • There are several times in A Cruel God Reigns where Ian flips out on Jeremy either because he thinks he has been buying/taking drugs or Jeremy actually has been taking drugs, though in both cases Ian reacts perhaps a little too extremely.
  • Michel has this reaction in Copernicus Breathing when he finds's Bird's Nest stash of drugs. He doesn't ask what they are, why Bird's Nest has them, or whether or not they were prescription. He just takes them and assumes the worst. Which, in his defense, is probably the correct assumption.
  • In the Black Lagoon manga, Leigharch is implied to have gone irreversibly insane after snorting too much coke in the manga. In the anime, his drug of choice is marijuana rather than cocaine.

    Comic Books 
  • There was an entire Wolverine comic arc featuring Psycho Serum cocaine which, after a while, turned into a horrific monster from the dawn of humanity. "That's right, kids, take crack and you may well turn into a horrific blobby goo abomination."
  • Spider-Man occasionally deals with this; in fact, it was what ended up doing in The Comics Code, as they would not let Stan Lee publish an anti-drug issue, even though drugs were portrayed in nothing but a negative light and the United States Government had asked Stan to produce the issue, solely because it portrayed drugs at all, leading Marvel to publish the story without Code approval.
  • In The New Guardians #2, Snowflame, a supervillain powered by Cocaine, proving not only that Drugs are Bad but sometimes they give you superpowers! (Ironically, Snowflame's sheer hammy insanity ended up being a huge hit when Linkara dug the comic out for a review, and he became known as basically the best thing to come out of that series. He even got his own webcomic!)
  • Cloak & Dagger got their powers after being forcibly used as guinea pigs by drug dealers to test a new type of heroin. This was not a benefit to them. Cloak has one of the worst cases of Blessed with Suck in the Marvel Universe. And they were the lucky ones; most of the other test subjects didn't survive. (As you might guess, most of the duo's enemies are drug dealers.)
  • The infamous Snowbirds Don't Fly two-parter Very Special Episode of Green Arrow/ Green Lantern had Green Arrow's sidekick Speedy (Roy Harper) addicted to heroin. Green Arrow throws him out and is generally a total judgmental dick, but somehow it's still the Evil Drug Dealer that's the villain of the story.
    • Green Arrow was, and has been since, treated as being in the wrong for throwing Speedy out instead of helping.
  • The "Rise of Arsenal" comic where Roy Harper, former sidekick, titan, and Justice League member returns to drugs after a string of tragic events including the death of his daughter.
  • An issue of The Desert Peach had Cloud Cuckoo Lander Dobermann's pills end up in Oberst Pfirisch Rommel's tea, causing the normally Camp Gay Pfirsich to become a psychotic berserker.
  • Demon from Justice Machine was addicted to a drug called Edge which he believed would enhance his super-acrobatic skills.
  • The Teen Titans got a couple of Anvilicious one-shots produced as part of the "Just say No" campaigns, complete with the requisite aggressive drug dealer.
  • Zig-zagged for all its worth in the Shadow of the Bat Very Special Story Arc "Leaves of Grass". Yes, it comes with the prerequisite speech from Tim Drake about how smoking marijuana is bad and features one of Tim's friends trying the stuff for the first time, but the main villain, Jason Woodrue, is far from The Aggressive Drug Dealer archetype. Notably, he actually wants to bring about world peace by getting everyone stoned, and it's noted several times that his particular strain of marijuana, sold at dirt-cheap prices, is already squeezing out the "in it for the money" drug dealers. Oh, and the story does go into detail about how the history of the hemp plant and its many non-dope-related uses, including making rope and cloth - George Washington is noted to be one of its earliest American growers.
  • Marvel 2099: Spider-Man 2099 has this as part of his origin story; Miguel O'Hara undergoes a dangerous science experiment to shake a drug addiction given to him by his boss. Yes, kids, endangering yourself by rewriting your DNA is preferable to getting hooked on cocaineRapture!
    • It wasn't that taking drugs was bad, it was that the drug is instantly and permanently addictive at a molecular level, and only available from the corporation. Shaking the addiction was the only way he could leave the hideously unethical company.
  • The "Streets of Poison" storyline in Captain America featured Cap busting up a drug cartel, and incidentally falling under the influence of drugs after an explosion causes said drugs to bond to the Super-Soldier Serum, turning the Captain into a violent, berserk druggie.
  • Subverted in The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers comics, where Fat Freddy tries to present an anti-drugs message - but the problem is, he is so high on aphetamine sulphate that he can't get the words right...
    Kids! Peed Skills! er... Seed Pilks! er.. Kleed Spills!"
    • This is also quoting the Canned Heat song Amphetamine Annie, where the repeated chorus line is simply 'Speed kills!
  • In Archie's Sonic the Hedgehog comic, Anti-Mobius has lots and lots of Anarchy Beryl. The power it gives you is even stronger and longer lasting than Chaos Emeralds, but results in a massive burn-out. It has been stated that "What Chaos Emeralds are to a good Caffeine buzz, Anarchy Beryl is to a Cocaine trip". Oh, and did we add that Scourge uses it to power up?

    Fanfiction 
  • In the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story "Smurfnip Madness", Papa Smurf has Tapper head a campaign to show that smurfnip (a Fantastic Drug analog to pot complete with Marijuana Is LSD) is supposedly bad for the other Smurfs. The true Aesop of the story is more treating recreational drug users like criminals is bad.
  • The unlikely Aesop of Marijuana Simpson; Homer realizes that marijuana dependency is holding him and his family back and subsequently burns all of his pot and embraces the Roman Catholic Church.
  • The author of Moiraillegiance is Science takes a moment to inform the audience of this after Eridan throws up following a particularly nasty hangover. Made particularly funny by the fact that it was during a pretty sucky series of events in the chapter for Eridan
    Alcohol is bad, children.
  • The infamous Portal2 fanfic Its My Life has perhaps the strangest use of this trope ever, since the two characters that the author repeatedly uses to preach this aesop, Atlas and P-body (or Altas and P-boy, as she calls them), are lungless, mouthless robots. She never explains how they are ingesting drugs in the first place.
  • In the Sonic the Hedgehog fanfiction Prison Island Break. For a story that features rapists, murderers and terrorists, the deciding factor is always drugs and the manner of their use. As early as the first chapter, Silver the Hedgehog is forcibly depowered using drugs, turning him into a victim. And when it's Serial Killer vs Serial Killer, the one you're rooting for is the one who isn't a recurring Heroin addict and prison dealer.
    • While it's clear the author has a grudge against irresponsible drug use, they Did Do The Research. This is especially obvious in the chapter where Ketamine is used in its capacity as a rape drug.
  • Ai Yori Aoshi Koi: It's implied in chapter 8 that Kaoru's grandfather was abusive at least partially because his aunt Suzuno secretly fed him mind-altering drugs and poisoned him with morning glory seeds.

    Film 
  • American Beauty features a subversion of this principle (though this may depend on your opinion of the characters): Drugs are GOOD. The 3 people who don't smoke pot are a battered wife, a cheating wife and a closeted homosexual wife beater. All the characters that are even marginally sympathetic smoke marijuana.
    • Then again, the main character that takes pot is trying to seduce a young girl and escape responsibility, along with the drug dealer, being a well-meaning, but off-kilterish and stalkerish guy. On the third hand, the main character does NOT sleep with the (not really) wannabe Lolita at the end.
  • The Even Evil Has Standards version is a key theme of The Godfather. At least enough so to keep them from selling them to white people.
  • In Goodfellas, Henry Hill is warned by his bosses in The Mafia not to get involved in drugs... not so much because they disapprove of it, but because it'll bring the full weight of the federal government crashing down on top of them, which the bosses do not want. True enough, when Henry gets involved in drugs (both dealing and addicted), the feds bust in on the party and the good times are definitely over.
  • Die Hard made sure that annoying loser Harry Ellis used cocaine. This was probably done in equal parts to show how pathetically depressed he was, though.
  • The Totally Radical and So Bad, It's Good movie High School Confidential offered these words of wisdom: "If you flake around with the weed, you'll end up using the harder stuff." The "evidence" for this argument usually involves taking a sample of crackheads and noting that over 95% of them had used weed in the past; you could say the same about bread or water. Correlation does not imply causation.
  • Parodied in Walk Hard: Dewey will frequently walk in on his drummer Sam engaging in some illicit narcotic accompanied by a crowd of beautiful young women. Sam will urgently tell Dewey that "you don't want no part in this!", but will then with the same urgent tone list all the great things about that particular drug. Dewey inevitably ends up hooked on it. For example, when Dewey notices friends smoking reefer:
    Sam: No, Dewey, you don't want this. Get outta here!
    Dewey Cox: You know what, I don't want no hangover. I can't get no hangover.
    Sam: It doesn't give you a hangover!
    Dewey: Wha-I get addicted to it or something?
    Sam: It's not habit-forming!
    Dewey: Oh, okay...well, I don't know...I don't want to overdose on it.
    Sam: You can't OD on it!
    Dewey: It's not gonna make me wanna have sex, is it?
    Sam: It makes sex even better!
    Dewey: Sounds kind of expensive.
    Sam: It's the cheapest drug there is.
  • Reefer Madness, which says that people who use marijuana may become "hopelessly and incurably insane," is the most famous of several "social menace" movies made in the mid-1930s to sensationally portray marijuana as a menace to society.
    • A good example of this occurs during a scene where a bunch of people are sitting around smoking and laughing. This quickly degrades to a man mercilessly beating another person to the floor while everyone else laughs. The implication being that smoking marijuana will make you compelled to violently assault your friends.
    • On the plus side, you can play piano really fast.
  • Many of the "educational" films Sid Davis made throughout the '50s, '60s and early '70s
  • The Faculty: Inverted. You've got to take the drugs to prove you're not one of them, man. And besides, the cocaine powder really is crushed caffeine pills. Zeke even smokes a joint right after playing football, at the end.
    "Guaranteed to jack you up!"
  • The film of Less Than Zero was essentially one giant 'Just Say No' PSA. Kinda ironic, considering that Bret Easton Ellis has said he wrote the original novel during an eight-week crystal meth binge.
  • Referenced and Played for Laughs in Super 8, where one of the kids has to take over the wheel as their driver got stoned. And during a really tense scene, he can't wake up (leading another kid to say "Drugs are so bad!").
  • All the bad guys in RoboCop (1987) were dealing and snorting cocaine.
    • In RoboCop 2, the enemy was behind a new street drug called "Nuke."
  • In Alien Nation, the Newcomers' former alien overlords kept them under control by feeding them a blue substance. Sam/George Francisco keeps this a secret from his human buddy-cop partner because he fears what humanity would do to the Newcomers if we ever found out they were a bunch of drug addicts. Near the end of the movie, a rogue Newcomer consumes an entire giant tube full of the concentrated drug, and turns into a mutated rampaging monster.
  • The Breaks: "Crack is bad! Get that shit away from me!"
  • In Scanners II: The New Order, the new version of Ephemerol inevitably causes mental and physical deterioration while also being very addictive. Those psychics who take it inevitably turn into dying drug addicts in less than a year.
  • Parodied in Harold And Kumar Go To White Castle with the "Marijuana Kills" commercial.

    Literature 
  • On the Discworld, Sergeant Detritus of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch would like to remind you all of this. Especially all his fellow trolls out there, as troll drugs have a tendency to make the heads of their users literally explode. Remember, kids, just say "AarrghaarrghpleeassennononoUGH"!
  • This is one of the main points of A Scanner Darkly. The newest drug on the market gives a great high, but can cause hallucinations and dissociative personality disorder. The novel is told from the point of view of an undercover narc. Throughout the book he uses the drug to maintain his cover, watches several of his friends suffer mental breakdowns, begins to lose his sense of identity, ends up shipped off to an evil rehab clinic which actually manufactures the drug, and is then revealed to have been sent there by his own superiors. Everything about his breakdown was engineered, and he was basically a sacrificial lamb for the government. Because Drugs Are Bad. To be fair, the book is also very poignant and one of the best examples of this particular Aesop.
    • Also of note is the book's epilogue/author's note. In it, Philip K. Dick explains he based most of the characters on people he knew and his own experiences in the drug culture. He then lists those people who inspired the novel (and who he feels were punished far more severely than the crime deserved). Most of them are then listed as deceased or suffering from permanent vascular damage or psychosis. One of the names on the list is himself.
    • Sadly the film didn't even break even at the box office, this being by far the best and most faithful Dick adaptation. Possibly, it was too deep in the Uncanny Valley.
  • Also doing it right is Requiem for a Dream, which at first seems to be a story about the brilliance of drugs a la Altered States. This idea ends badly.
  • House of the Scorpion looks at the trope, depicting a nation where an entire nation is run by drug lords after deals were made with the U.S. and Mexican governments. The nation keeps illegals out of both countries, and doesn't ship drugs to either of them. In return, the two nations leave them alone to ship drugs to other places in the world. The Keepers, corrupt officials that run a work camp, are arrested not because of abuse of the boys, but because of a failed drug test
  • Subverted in The Wind Singer. Mumpo becomes somewhat addicted to chewing on some leaves used by one of the tribes the group has passed. When they awaken the beautiful, blond and evil Zars, they're so afraid and hungry that they can't concentrate on their task. Mumpo then shares the leaves with the others, and it eases their feelings, leaving them so high and giggly that they're halfway back before they know it.
    • That'll be coca. It's the plant cocaine is made from, but was part of traditional native cultures in the area. From what I've heard, the plant contains very low levels of the active ingredient, and isn't really any worse for people than coffee. Dose matters.
  • Go Ask Alice is basically "Drugs Are Bad: The Book"
  • In David Eddings' Malloreon, Sadi presents Silk with a business proposal involving the setup and operation of a worldwide drug supply chain. Silk declines on the grounds that "a man has draw the line somewhere", despite Sadi's Long List of morally dubious acts about which Silk has few qualms - Silk's actual reason for refusal was Squick. On a personal level, Sadi's drug use is treated as a personal flaw and a bad thing in general, but no worse than the bouts of drunkenness and petty larceny other characters engage in.
  • The Spine of the World is a less heroic novel by R. A. Salvatore, featuring the former-ish hero Wulfgar after he has been broken by torment and fallen into disgrace. This involves alcohol. Drizzt Do'Urden doesn't appear in this novel, but there are monologues by him at the start of each part anyway, and the one appearing before Wulfgar's drinking problem is described broadens the topic into a general Drugs Are Bad. Even the drow don't use them, apparently, because they need to stay alert for when their allies stab them in the back—which in fact contradicts an event from an earlier Drizzt book, where a graduation ceremony involved a drug-fueled orgy. Of course, Drizzt being Drizzt, he gives a fairly well-reasoned and intelligent argument against drugs from the standpoint of his Incorruptible Pure Pureness. He does describe all drugs as having a sedative effect (like alcohol), while the opposite is true for some of them.
  • Latawnya, the Naughty Horse, Learns to Say "No" to Drugs. The only children's book to feature a dead horse that OD'd from marijuana. A non-anthropomorphic horse. And other non-anthro horses smoking weed and drinking beer. As you'd expect, the possibility that the horses might have a reason to enjoy the drugs is ignored, and they are treated only as poison, as the following precious dialog shows: "I feel sick to my stomach. I feel very ill." "I heard some other horses talking about doing drugs and getting high. [...] I think they got their words mixed up. They should call it getting low."
    • It gets better: The book illustrates the non-anthro horses as "holding" the drugs (and alcohol) in their hooves.
  • Jack Ryan:
    • In Patriot Games, Jack is noted to have an aversion to use of painkillers due to an earlier incident where a sympathetic nurse gave him a heavier dose of morphine that resulted in an addiction problem.
    • There was also Without Remorse, where the drug dealers are portrayed as possibly the most disgusting individuals in the entire series, beating Stalinist Machiavellians, sadistic Vietcong, fascist ChiComs and Islamist terrorists who tried to start World War III. Every single one of them gets whats coming to him.
  • An early example of this, though more realistic than most, is Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories. Holmes's cocaine and morphine habits are initially portrayed as amusing idiosyncrasies, fodder for Watson to moralize and Holmes to blithely dismiss his concerns; but Holmes's drug use soon vanishes, and in one of the later stories Watson refers to "that drug mania which had once threatened to check his remarkable career," and reacts with horror at the sight of Holmes holding a hypodermic needle.
    • Nicholas Meyer covered this territory in ''The Seven Percent Solution", an alternate retelling of "The Final Problem". In Meyer's story, Holmes was deep in the throes of addiction, increasingly paranoid that Moriarty would destroy him (turns out Moriarty was his old maths professor in university and not a criminal mastermind), and Watson pulled something of a Batman Gambit by leading a trail of fake clues for Holmes to follow that would lead to Vienna. There Watson managed to arrange for Holmes to meet Sigmund Freud, who was able to treat Holmes for his drug dependency. The choice of Sigmund Freud specifically is probably the oddest part; Sigmund Freud not only used cocaine himself but prescribed it to all his patients.
  • In The Pale King, Chris Fogle spends a few pages discussing his drug habits in college, and he's clearly embarrassed in retrospect.
  • In Sweet Valley High "On The Edge" (#40) a heartbroken Regina Morrow goes to a party, tries cocaine for the first time, and dies soon after.
  • Ship Breaker: Many people are addicted to Red Rippers, a drug that's normally used for animals. Nailer's father Richard is the worst example, being an utterly crazed addict.
  • The drug MDT-48 from The Dark Fields is this writ large. MDT-48 makes the narrator brilliant, socially loved, accomplished, wealthy... and then he loses it all. And then everyone involved with the drug is murdered or dies of withdrawal. The film version has a rather different ending.
  • Shows up in the third Ranger's Apprentice book. Will gets addicted to a fictional drug called warmwood to help control him, and his recovery is a slow and hard one.
  • Not actually a major theme of it, but Decision Of Fate has this.

    Music 
  • Canned Heat's first album contains the tongue-in-cheek Amphetamine Annie, a dread warning against stimulants:
    This is a song with a message.
    I want you to heed my warning;
    I wanna tell you all a story,
    About this chick I know;
    They call her "Amphetamine Annie",
    She's always shovelling snow.
    I sat her down and told her,
    I told her crystal clear,
    "I don't mind you getting high,
    But there's one thing you should fear!
    Your mind might think its flying, baby
    On those little pills;
    But you ought to know it's dying, 'cause...
    Speed kills!"
  • "Just to Get High" by Nickelback talks about watching someone's downward spiral into drug addiction.
  • Played (relatively) straight in the video for "The Last Journey Home" by DragonForce, where Vadim and ZP turn down the offerings of a drug dealer who accosts them in a seedy back alley. Played straight with the song "Give Me the Night", which is told from the perspective of a drug addict.
  • Done well in Jamey Johnson's brutally honest hit song "The High Cost of Living". Not quite Crowning Music of Awesome quality, but pretty darn close.
  • Contrary to popular belief, the Straight Edge movement usually does not fall prey to this trope. Straight edgers believe drug abuse and alcoholism to be unhealthy, yes, but traditional straight edge ethos is against mass-marketed morality (force-fed anti-drug Stock Aesops would fall under this category) just as much as mindless hedonism. The idea of straight edge isn't to practice temperance for moral or political reasons, but for the sake of self-control and independence, usually amounting to a "be your own god" ideology that very much runs contrary to the conservative or religious intentions of most anti-drug aesops.
  • More or less the Accidental Aesop of a large percentage of Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll rockers. For a couple of examples, just compare pictures of Steven Tyler or Taiji Sawada taken when they first began their lives of Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll... to what they look like now, in their middle age.
    • And to take that Up to Eleven, what happened to Taiji Sawada. While his cause of death is disputed, his strange behavior near the end and Saipan's reputation for being a methamphetamine capital of the world could explain some of what led to his suspicious death as being a particularly bad fall Off The Wagon.
    • Hell, just look at Scott Weiland. He may have been the founding member of one of the biggest rock acts of the Nineties and the singer for an equally-prominent supergroup, but his drug-addled idiocy and complete refusal to take some responsibility for it has resulted in his being fired from virtually every band he's ever been in.
  • Afroman's "Because I Got High" sounds like a pretty cheerful and upbeat song about getting high, but as the song goes on, increasingly bad things happen to him, Because he got high.
    I messed up my entire life, because I got high,
    I lost my kids and wife, because I got high.
    Now I'm sleeping on the sidewalk, and I know why,
    Because I got high, because I got high, because I got high.
  • In a live performance by Robbie Williams, he stopped the show dead in its tracks to deliver the message that "alcohol is good; drugs are bad".
  • Old Crow Medicine Show's "Methamphetamine" (on their third album Tennessee Pusher) plays this straight. However, The song avoids being preachy by showing how meth cooking is often prevalent in economically depressed areas.
    'Cause when it's either the mine or the Kentucky National Guard
    Mmm, I'd rather sell them a line than be dyin' in the coal yard
    • OCMS (as they're known) has a song about drugs once each album; the songs on their first two albums (Old Crow Medicine Show and Big Iron World) are about cocaine, and treat the subject somewhat lightly (with the guy in the song on Old Crow Medicine Show "bemoaning" his habit the way drunks in old country songs do—saying it's a sin and all, but refusing to do anything about it besides asking the others not to join in; the guy on Big Iron World doesn't even bother with that—"take a whiff on me," indeed).
    • OCMS also doesn't seem to have a problem with marijuana, if the lyric "Walk into the south outta Roanoke/Caught a trucker outta Philly, had a nice long toke" in "Wagon Wheel" is any indication.
  • Parodied in Eminem's "The Kids," which sends up the South Park episode of the page quote.
  • Played completely straight about pot in The Offspring's "What Happened to You?" and partially Played for Laughs in "Mota."
  • 101 Rules Of Power Metal #58. Drugs aren't metal.
  • A major theme of Savatage's Streets: A Rock Opera. The main character, DT Jesus, is a drug dealer turned rock star turned junkie. The Rock Opera begins with him wandering the streets in a drug-induced haze before a similarly-fallen mentor makes him realize he needs to clean up his act. Disaster strikes during his come-back show and a friend is killed because of him. The rest of the story is DT trying to make sense of his life and the world, with the numbing "comfort" of drugs being a constant temptation.
  • The entire point of Metallica's "Master of Puppets" is that drugs turn you into a slave and both rule and ruin your life. The majority of the song is from the P.O.V. of the drug itself as it taunts and mocks you, making it very clear who's in charge.
    Taste me you will see
    More is all you need
    Dedicated to
    How I'm killing you
    Come crawling faster
    Obey your master
    Your life burns faster
    Obey your master, master
    Master of puppets I'm pulling your strings
    Twisting your mind and smashing your dreams
    Blinded by me you can't see a thing
    Just call my name cuz I'll hear you scream, Master, Master
    • One section is from the addict's P.O.V. as they cry out to a master that "promised only lies".
  • Another heavy metal example is ironically enough from Ozzy Osbourne. The song "Suicide Solution" is about alcohol abuse and how it will slowly and painfully end up killing you. The song was written after AC/DC's original singer Bon Scott who died at 33 from alcohol poisoning.
    Suicide is slow with liquor
    Take a bottle and drown your sorrows
    Then it floods away tomorrows
  • Played for Laughs in Stephen Lynch's mock-children's song "Superhero," which involves an audience participation portion:
    Stephen: Kids, sometimes criminals want you to be a criminal too, don't they? They offer you things like drugs and alcohol. But we know to just say no, right?
    Audience: (beat) Right.
    Stephen: You drunk motherfuckers. Except for the ol' stoned table. I know who you guys are. I can smell it from here.
  • "Slow Down" by Brand Nubian is a What the Hell, Hero? directed at the speaker's ex-girlfriend, who is addicted to crack cocaine and has been selling her body (and his new sneakers) to pay for her habit, and he mentions how the drugs have taken a toll on her looks as well as her personality.
  • Billy Joel's "Captain Jack" is about a Real Life heroin dealer in a Long Island housing project and a young man whose life is falling apart and turns to drugs as a result. The chorus at the beginning includes the line "Captain Jack will get you high tonight". By the end, it is "Captain Jack will make you die tonight".
  • No one is going to say Neil Young's "The Needle And The Damage Done" is subtle in telling letting you know what Neil feels about heroin. Neil wrote this in response to Crazy Horse's Danny Whitten being fired from the band for his constant heroin abuse, and the next day, Whitten was found dead after ODing on alcohol and valium.
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd's "The Needle and the Spoon" is about how using heroin will kill you.
  • The David Bowie-led Hard Rock group Tin Machine had a song on this subject with "Crack City" in 1989.
  • Hoyt Axton's "No No Song" (remade by Ringo Starr) has this refrain (in reference to the "marijuana" part):
    No-no-no-no, I don't smoke it no more
    I'm tired of waking up on the floor
    No, thank you, please, it only makes me sneeze
    Then it makes it hard to find the door
  • The whole of Lou Reed's Berlin album is an account of a couple falling apart due to dependency on legal and illegal drugs, culminating in the woman's suicide. This laugh-fest has gems like Caroline Said

    All of her friends call her Alaska
    When she takes speed, they'll laugh and ask her
    What is in her mind?
    But she's not afraid to die;
    All of her friends call her Alaska;
    It's so cold in Alaska...
    • Lou Reed's best-known and loved song, Perfect Day, has been misinterpreted by people taking it at face value as a song about a loving couple enjoying a perfect summer day. It is about a love affair: between a man and heroin.
    It's such a perfect day;
    You made me forget myself;
    I thought I was someone else, someone good....
  • The Blue Öyster Cult do a lot of drugs songs. Then Came the Last Days of May is about another peril associated with drugs: three naive american kids on a trip into Mexico to buy drugs are double-crossed and murdered for their money. (Message: drugs are bad because their very illegality means you do not know who you are dealing with). Hungry Boys is about heroin dependency
    Now look at Hungry, he's really got the need;
    Valerie's got the needle and she always makes him plead;
    Louis was the one who really brought the stuff to town;
    But the cops moved in and shut the operation down! That's why we're hungry boys!
  • Patti Smith, a long time associate of the BOC, recorded Poppies on her Radio Ethiopia album. The poppies in question are the opium variety. Among other things, buried away in a double-tracked lyric she sings graphically about the laxative and emetic side- effect of heroin. If this were better known to non-users, what a deterrent it would be.. ''"Kids! Heroin makes you shit yourself! Now do you think it's cool to do drugs?"
  • The Kinks' Harry Rag is a light-hearted singalong number about addiction to a more mundane and legal drug: nicotine.
    Tom's old ma is a dying lass,
    Soon they all reckon she'll be pushing up the grass,
    But her bones might ache, and her skin might sag -
    She's so content because she's got a Harry Rag!
    Oh, Harry Rag, Harry Rag,
    She'll do anything just to get a Harry Rag!
    She curses herself for the life she's led;
    Then rolls herself a Harry Rag and puts herself to bed...
  • Alice in Chains's second album, Dirt is a genuinely chilling example of this trope, with almost all of the lyrics being written by singer Layne Staley about his own heroin addiction.
  • Xorcist's "Crack" opens with a sample of a crack user flatlining and having a near-death experience, followed by the repeated lyric "Don't let it take your soul".
  • Kiss' "I" from Music From The Elder: "Don't need to get wasted, it only holds me down." Also a Take That to their lead guitarist Ace Frehley.

    New Media 
  • The About.com entry on marijuana says that the effects of it are "Distorted perception, problems with memory and learning, loss of coordination, trouble with thinking and problem-solving, increased heart rate and reduced blood pressure". Anyone reading that may wonder why people smoke marijuana in the first place. It's accurate, from a medical standpoint, but also something of a lie of omission.

    Pinball 

    Professional Wrestling 
  • CM Punk's whole Heel gimmick is pretty much telling everybody Drugs Are Bad over and over and over again, and wagging an accusatory finger towards the audience. Of course, in his mind, anything stronger than caffeine is worthy of scorn.

    Puppet Shows 

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles And Other Strangeness supplement Turtles Go Hollywood (1990) has an impassioned plea on the copyright page telling kids not to do drugs that fits its end-of-the-80s time period perfectly.
  • Magic: The Gathering's original backstory involved a shade of this trope. The Thran's civilization declined due to an addiction to Powerstones, their energy source. The addiction later became a disease, which the doctor Yawgmoth treated by replacing infected parts with mechanical ones. Eventually, they became the Phyrexians, primary antagonists for the entire first half of the game's run, and then recurring villains later.
  • Pretty much anything that appears in the Dungeons & Dragons supplement The Book of Vile Darkness (which includes rules for torture, execution, and rules where that made "Sadistic" a trait that a character can benefit from) are depicted as things that are evil even by the usual standards of the game, and not recommended for Player Characters. Rules for and examples of magical addictive drugs (along with rules for how addiction to them is handled) is included in this book.

    Video Games 
  • The "Winners Don't Use Drugs" screen that used to appear in the Attract Mode of many arcade games (and in some places still does. There's also messages from the EPA).
  • Just Say No International commissioned NARC, a game in which the player is tasked with the somewhat morally questionable task of mowing down thousands of people (including mere addicts) purely to try getting drugs off the street. Presumably the message to take home from this is that Drugs Are Bad because they will lead to the cops walking up to you and blowing your head off with a rocket launcher.
  • Quest for Glory III has a Nonstandard Game Over for hitting the pipe too many times, entitled "All Toked Up".
    "You spend the next couple of years sleeping in alleyways and eating out of garbage cans. Then you die, a burned-out drug addict."
  • Many Powder Game uploads are named something like "dont smoke". These always feature a man made of explosives smoking a flaming or exploding cigarette.
  • In S.W.A.T. 2, there's an entire campaign for the Terrorist side. While you're free to murder and take hostages throughout the campaign, one of the early missions opens with your boss chastising some of the terrorist members for growing marijuana for profit, and he orders you to set fire to the crop. Even Evil Has Standards.
    • Not really, its heavily implied that the terrorists just don't want to attract attention too early, and the burning of the marijuana is to hide the evidence.
  • In The Witcher, characters show more contempt at Salamandra's attempts to control the drug trade than their ranks including rapists and murderers. This is worse when it's a morally vague World Half Empty, so any kind of message (intended or not) doesn't fit.
    • Of course, it makes sense as controlling the industry would then give the organization control over the addicts, which they could use to further their own agenda.
  • Averted in StarCraft where feeding your marines stimpacks doubles their effectiveness but damages them by about 1/4 of their health, but is necessary to utilize them effectively. Kind of played straight with the disclaimer though:
    Side effects including insomnia, weight loss, tremors, grand mal seizures, mania/hypomania, paranoiac hallucinations, severe internal hemorrhaging and cerebral deterioration have all been declared nominal and well within Confederate acceptable safety margins.
    • If you have the expansion, you can heal the damage from stimpacks with medics. And keep giving your marines stims. The result is, figuratively and literally, space marines on crack.
  • Skooma, a drinkable drug from The Elder Scrolls series, is shown as highly addictive as well as causing brain damage. In game terms, this translates to two points of intelligence damage per bottle, meaning 25 doses could leave you a vegetable. A 10 coin offering at the local shrine makes you as good as new.
    • But when have player characters and NPC's even been on equal footing?
    • In Skyrim, it has no negative effects on the player character whatsoever. This is despite meeting a pathetic addict of it in one of the Khajiit caravans.
    • This is also subverted with moon-sugar, the main ingredient in Skooma, it has no permanent downsides and is used by Khajiit in ritualistic worshipping, but because it's an ingredient in Skooma, it's illegal all the same.
  • Haze features 'nectar' as a combat enhancing drug that has the unfortunate side effect of being more likely to kill you than the enemy.
  • In Sim City 4, you can view a map of your city's crime hotspots, with a series of colour-coded symbols to denote each crime. Drug offences are ranked alongside arson and bank robbery.
  • In the Grange Hill computer game, accepting drugs from the pusher results in a really dark game over.
    "There is an empty look in his eye as he snatches the money from your hand. His face is pale and drawn; His body thin and unfed. He steals to keep his habit; And makes addicts of children. He is dead, and soon you will be too."
  • This was actually the core aesop of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, funnily enough. The gangbanger protagonists hate drugs with a passion, mostly because a drug dealer killed their mother, and drugs turned many allies into enemies and rendered the rest apathetic. Fortunately, it never comes off as Anvilicious.
    • Gameplay and Story Integration: The drug power-ups that induce Bullet Time and make your punches do Quad Damage, and were found in abundance in GTA III and Vice City are renamed "adrenaline pills" here and there are maybe four or five scattered across the entire map, just to reinforce the aesop.
    • It's a consistent theme across the HD universe as well. In Grand Theft Auto IV you run across several random characters who are dealing with a drug addiction, and you help them get their lives straight. Little Jacob says that marijuana use has made his partner Real Badman paranoid, and even says in one conversation that he's trying to quit himself. The motivation of the man who sold out Niko's squad is revealed to have been for money for his heroin habit, and once we finally meet him he's a broken wretch. In Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned, Johnny's ex-girlfriend Ashley is a slave to her drug habit, and Johnny is forced to bail her out of trouble several times, even though he fully expects her to never change. In Grand Theft Auto V, meth addiction has turned Johnny Klebitz into a shell of his former self. Smoking marijuana is presented as just one of the reasons Michael's son is a loser, and he vows to quit it late in the game. The player has the option of having Michael or Franklin take a hit from a bong, and both of them usually become depressed when they do so. A legalization activist is portrayed as caring more about his stash than about helping people, to the point that he and his friends get so high that they completely forget about a rally they roped Franklin into.
  • The first two Fallout games did this without dropping the anvils, or ever infringing on the player's choice in whether to use or peddle them. Gameplay benefits and side effects for recreational drugs were roughly equal to medical and performance-enhancing drugs, and the player is provided ways of mitigating the penalties, or even turning them into another benefit.) Dumping them wholesale on the market for profit had no negative consequence, not even an in-game rebuke or lampshade. The personal and social consequences were depicted with a light touch, without specifically reviling the user; any villanization related to institutional use for the purpose of oppressing a population, or deliberately poisoning the product.
    • Fallout 2 even allowed the player to join the ranks of the Mordinos, the New Reno crime family responsible for the jet epidemic sweeping the wasteland. Alternatively, the player could choose to find a cure for jet addiction. Either way, it was still a drug essentially made from cow (brahmin) crap and it got the user high as balls...which is VERY, VERY bad of course. Not to mention the CNPC with a heart condition that makes him explode if you feed him too much drugs.
    • Fallout 3 used drugs similarly to the previous games; they all had side effects (including alcoholic drinks) and your character had a chance of becoming addicted (causing penalties if you didn't take the drug; although you could be cured by pretty much any doctor). There was also a side quest in Megaton where you could help an addict go clean (for which he would reward you with his stash). There were also a few perks that allowed you to ignore or reduce the side effects or chance of being addicted.
    • Originally, Med-X (drug that increases damage resistance) was going to be named Morphine but Australia took issue with it so the developers hastily renamed it. There are rumors the game was to include animations where the user actually takes the drug but these were dummied out for the same reason: visual depictions of someone doing drugs are BAAAD.
    • Fallout: New Vegas plays with it a bit more. The most eviliest group, The Fiends are like this because most are so drugged up (the rest are just plan crazy, and on drugs) however the second most evil, The Legion, is very anti-drug (including for medicinal purposes).
      • Also, during 1 side-quest you are to help 2 people get over their addiction so they can help freeside. Along with that, the followers, who asked you to help the two, need a supplier and if you choose the casino in freeside as supplier then speech will follow, with the followers thinking low of the casino, but the owner of the casino admits that they detest drugs because those addicted will generally take trouble to other people.
        "We may seem like enablers, but really we don't give out drugs. People attacking caravans just to get the fix."
      • Another side quest involves helping a High Class Hooker escape what basically amounts to sexual slavery. One of the obstacles to her escape is that the bosses have deliberately gotten her hooked on drugs and supply her themselves to keep her dependent on them.
      • In the Old World Blues DLC, the Think Tanks are all severely addicted to Mentats, a drug that boosts intelligence. It's likely that centuries of Mentats abuse is a partial cause for their complete and utter insanity. Though the main reason is their lobotomizations by Dr. Mobius. Even worse is Dr. Mobius, who abuses not only Mentats but Psycho and Jet on his own spare time. The amazing thing is that as Brains In Jars they're still capable of taking drugs.
      • It's actually easier for a Brain in a Jar to take drugs; putting some in their jar fluid is basically mainlining without needles or needing to worry about the blood-brain barrier.
  • The LucasArts adventure game The Dig reduced into a thoroughly Anvilicious drug abuse allegory for the mid-part of the game with the life crystals and Ludger Brink's relationship with them.
  • The flash game Get Home. But Thou Must take drugs and get the Bad Ending before getting home clean is an option.
  • The premise of the NES game Wally Bear And The No Gang is based entirely around this.
    • Also, Color Dreams' Raid 2020.
  • Everything that happens to the main character in Afraid Of Monsters is caused by the drugs that he is addicted to.
  • In Payday The Heist, the robbers go to a drug deal to waste the dealers and take only the drug money while destroying the drugs. One of the heist members Dallas performs hits on drug dealers and kingpins as he personally fights against the drug trade.
  • In Nitro+CHIRAL's "Togainu no Chi", nothing good can come from using Line. Though it increases your physical abilites, it results in loss of rational thought, and excruciating withdrawal. Worst case scenario, you either disembowel your childhood friend (Keisuke does so to Akira), or end up a vegetable (in Shiki's case). Even Akira and Keisuke's best end results in hints of PTSD and a huge case of mygodwhathaveidone?
  • In Stuntman Ignition, at the end of the Overdrive movie trailer, the movie protagonist says "Winners don't do drugs" just after he throws his car on the bad guy's helicopter.
  • In City of Heroes quite a few of the criminal organisations are doing various drugs which mutate their bodies and give them super-powers. The Family (a Mafia-esque criminal group) is involved in selling it. On the streets you can hear Mooks haggling over the price and quality of drugs constantly. And a lot of missions are akin to drug busts. In Going Rogue there exists a drink called 'Enriche' which is advertised everywhere and spoken highly of by the general population. You don't need much imagination to guess that it's actually a drug siphoned directly into the population's water supply to keep them happy and obedient.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Parodied in Red vs. Blue when Simmons tells the other members of Red team that he and Grif were drugged. Donut immediately assumes that they were intentionally abusing drugs and proceeds on a long tirade about how drugs are bad, much to Simmons' annoyance. Simmons even comes right out and says that the only thing Donut is accomplishing by going on the anti-drug tirade is making him want to take drugs out of spite.
  • Spoofed in the Saturday Morning Watchmen themesong. "Say no to drugs!" is sung while Rorschach is shown turning away from a dealer.
  • Spoofed (or played straight? hard to tell) in this Flash Tub "PSA" from Something Awful.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series has a PSA where Yami Yugi speaks out against drugs. It starts out rather straight (he'd lose respect and his ability to play a Children's Card Game well) but then gets weirder as he advocates selling cards as a better way to get kids addicted (without getting arrested).
  • In Worm, Weaver deconstructs this trope when talking to middle-schoolers, explaining that drugs don't instantly ruin people's lives like they say, and that Lies to Children claiming they do just discredit people talking about the progressive harm they do. She then segues from this into an explanation of why being a supervillain sucks in much the same way.
  • Nash Bozard looks at this from a practicality standpoint. While it may not be a good idea, it's not hard to understand why people do drugs; they want to experience the effect the drug has on them, be it chilling out, euphoria, etc. Once you get to something like bath salts, this justification rapidly evaporates in a cloud of naked crazy and there's no good reason for doing it; you don't feel good by any definition, and you'll probably go on a rampage trying to get away from the people around you who have turned into demons or the lightning chasing you down the highway.]]
  • A lot of health websites seem to want to remind you that if you want to avoid getting nearly any illness on the planet, you must avoid drugs, as if they are pounding it into your brain.


...m'kay?
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