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Addictive Magic

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"Magic has become a crutch that I can't walk without."
Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold, Once Upon a Time

Sometimes magic is not just something someone can do, it is also something that is physiologically and mentally addictive. People who use Addictive Magic always want to use it as much as possible because it feels pleasurable to them in some way. Sometimes there is a risk to the user if he uses his magic powers too much, and so he must be careful about using their powers too often, lest they consume him. In extreme cases, it might even be a Fantastic Drug.

Compare The Dark Side, where evil is addictive. See Power High for a one-time boost.


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    Comic Books 
  • Mary Marvel, once she takes on the powers of Black Adam in the Captain Marvel storylines.
    • Black Adam himself isn't so much addicted to magic as disinterested in having a normal life anymore. His evil comes from a lack of modern sensibilities and a brutal default response to personal tragedy. His powers do seem to corrupt anyone else he loans them to, Depending on the Writer.
  • Die: Neo gear runs on Fair gold, a mix between this and Fantastic Drug. Neos, including Angela, need new Fair gold every morning to power their gear. Ash outright calls Angela an addict... while, ironically, recognizing that the Dictator power of Compelling Voice she herself possesses is also somewhat psychologically addictive.

    Fan Works 
  • Ages of Shadow: The card game Brenner creates is designed to be addictive, even as it channels fragments of the souls of the losers as sacrifices to Jade. In fact, according to Domino, it's the very loss of those soul fragments that makes the game so addictive, and makes long term players so eccentric (at best). However, after the Final Battle, this no longer applies, as the soul fragments are returned, and Jade's influence on the game is cut off due to the seal.
  • Empath: The Luckiest Smurf: In "The Smurf Village Revival", Benedictus' spiritual power has an addictive quality to it, as Empath says that the Smurfs have been going to him night after night to receive this power.
  • One Thing Leads to Another: Beast Boy and Raven discover during their first time sleeping together that Raven's magic can create an empathic link between them during sex. It proves to be a wonderful experience, but causes significant tension after the effects prove to be mildly addictive for Beast Boy. They agree to reserve it for special occasions.
  • Seventh Horcrux: Harry, in order to avoid being controlled by the Imperius Curse, regularly Imperios himself to do whatever he wants. When Hermione finds out and forces him to stop, he goes through withdrawal.
  • Their Midnight Revels: While Edith Crawley and Thomas Barrow do not show all the signs of a parallel drug addiction, some of the symptoms of this trope still apply: such as expanded thoughts, uncontrollable inhibitions, heightened senses, and rapidly changing emotions, particularly rage, anxiety, and depression. Plus their behavior after they return from Faerie the first night mirrors the behavior of a drug user coming down from a high.
  • Triptych Continuum: There's an element of this to Talents, or magic stemming from a pony's cutie mark. All ponies experience some degree of what's locally known as "flank-brain" when they first get their mark, as the surge of pleasure that comes from triggering their talent produces something of a Pavlovian conditioning effect. Friends and family usually try to intervene, but the spectrum of varying levels of addiction to mark-magic, locally known as "falling into the mark", remains the most prominent mental illness in Equestria.

    Film — Animation 
  • Frozen II: As Elsa hears the mysterious calling voice in "Into the Unknown" she keeps trying to ignore it, but its allure is too much for her to resist. Grand Pabbie warns Anna to watch over Elsa, as she may lose herself in the allure of magic during their journey. When she's in Ahtohallan and finds magical representations of the past, she goes too far in pursuit of finding more and dies before being revived later.
  • Turning Red: Mei is warned that continued use of her panda will make it harder to banish during the ritual. Mei exploits it anyway as a side hustle, and does indeed have a hard time separating from the spirit, ultimately choosing to keep it as part of her.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Covenant: The Sons' magic is not merely highly addictive, but drains their vitality and prematurely ages them the more they use it. This is only after their 18th birthday, though. Before that, their magic is much less powerful but is also a freebie. However, if they're not careful, they'll get hooked and be unable to stop. This is what happened to the protagonist's father and to the Big Bad, who has to resort to stealing other Sons' magic to keep himself young.

  • In New Testament Scripture from The Bible, the Greek word translated as magic and witchcraft is pharmakeia (φαρμακεία), which can also double for drug use (but actually means "poison").
  • The magic of the Weave in The Braided Path trilogy fills users with such a strong sense of bliss that it is easy for them to lose themselves and go insane as a result. Using a mask laced with witch stone dust only amplifies the effects. Both the Weavers and the Red Order have to use a lot of discipline so they don't lose themselves to the Weave. (Although the Red Order have a slight advantage, given most of them underwent a Traumatic Superpower Awakening by accidentally setting their surroundings on fire.)
  • Darwath: In the realm of Darwath there is a saying: "A mage will have magic," meaning that a mage can't not use their magic, even if it might cost him his life. Novice mage Rudy Solis finds that it's quite true.
  • The magic (called 'Charm') in Dragoncharm is heavily implied to be psychologically addictive, and at the end when the source of Charm disconnects from the world entirely, the Charmed dragons all simultaneously recoil in pain.
  • In the Dragonlance series of novels, it is said that High Sorcery can be like this for some people. Raistlin Majere was one such person for whom using magic felt good. It is described as something the high sorcerer can feel all throughout his body when he casts a spell.
  • In the Dreamblood Duology, there's Narcomancy — especially dreamblood, one of the four dreamhumours. Coming in contact with it or using it gives wonderful sensations and visions, but after a time the user becomes dependent and must have dream blood or die.
  • In The Dresden Files, this applies to black magic, such as killing another human or manipulating their mind. Using magic is closely tied to doing what you truly love, and you can only cast magic if you honestly believe in what you're doing. Black magic, even if used in self-defense or for a genuinely good cause, alters the user's mind to accept what they did was good on some level. Each additional casting of black magic alters the user's mind even more, making them more willing to use black magic, until eventually they are using the magic just for the sake of using it. Given how rare it is for a warlock to not desend into raving lunacy, the official White Council policy is to execute anyone caught using black magic on sight.
  • In Neal Shusterman's novel The Eyes of Kid Midas, the protagonist becomes increasingly reliant on the power of his magical sunglasses. The sunglasses aren't in any hurry to go away either.
  • Magic in Heralds of Valdemar doesn't usually seem to trend this way, but the short story "Trust Your Instincts" in the anthology "Pathways" has the magical king-choosing Sword that Sings causing an obsession in a mage who'd handled it, making him break into the palace to touch it with eager, shaking hands - until it switched from a warm and calming influence to a cold terror-inducing one that had him stealing it and running unprepared into a mountain pass where he died - all as part of the sword's plan to get itself lost until Tarma and Kethry find it in Oathbreakers.
  • Guardians of the Flame: It's stated explicitly to resemble cocaine addiction—a little bit every now and then is okay, but use too much and it's a steep, quick decline into obsession, madness, and bad hygiene. Demonstrated with Andy-Andy, who keeps to a slow, safe, gentle progression, until Karl dies, at which point she takes a flying leap off the slippery slope. Subverted in the end - given the choice of sacrificing her sanity or ability to do magic for enough power for an epic spell, she chooses the latter. She does, however, display symptoms of catastrophic cold-turkey withdrawal afterward. This may also be the entire motivation of Arthur Deighton/Arta Myrdhyn.
  • Warlocks in The Legends of Ethshar series qualify—the more they use their magic, the easier and more pleasurable it gets. But the power's drawn from an external source, and a warlock who uses too much ends up being irresistibly summoned to that source.
  • The One Ring of The Lord of the Rings gives its user power, but at the same time creates an addiction to it, to the point where the user couldn't give it to anyone else, thus making him the only one powered by it.
  • Downplayed and implied in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children—Jacob suspects that the loop's magic is addictive.
    It was as if just being here had some kind of narcotic effect on me; like the loop itself was a drug—a mood enhancer and a sedative combined—and if I stayed too long, Id never want to leave.
    If that were true, I thought, it would explain a lot of things, like how people could live the same day over and over for decades without losing their minds.
  • Subverted in the second novel of Mistborn: The Original Trilogy. Straff Venture assumes that using the mystical metal atium to fuel their powers is addictive to Mistborn, and uses carefully controlled rations of it to control his Dragon and bastard son Zane. Atium, however, is not addictive (at least, no more addictive than anything that grants power), and Zane mentally derides Straff for thinking so- he hangs around him mostly because he doesn't have anywhere else to go.
  • Skill-users Robin Hobb's Realm of the Elderlings books suffer from an addiction to Skilling that can cause truly terrible physical pain and mental distraction. Fitz suffers especially from this addiction.
  • Schooled in Magic:
    • Necromancy addicts its users, while slowly driving them mad too.
    • A Magic Staff is also addictive, and users can eventually become unable to use magic without one.
  • Clairvoyance through a Crystal Ball is described like this in Skate the Thief, which is so engrossing that users will often forgo things like food and sleep without realizing how much time is passing while they watch whatever they're looking at.
  • A recurring theme in the Shannara series, though more for some magics than others. The Sword of Leah is perhaps the most consistently addictive.
  • In the Towers Trilogy, Xhea is an Un-Sorcerer whose body can't process magic. Instead of being able to use it to cast spells, it affects her like a drug. Xhea often accepts payment in magic, despite her inability to use or re-sell it, because she's addicted to the sensations it causes.
  • Viceroy's Pride:
    • Absorbing mana gives the mage a rush of power and euphoria; the bigger the mana, the longer the rush. And since the only known way to absorb mana is to kill something that has mana, this means it is absolutely possible to become literally addicted to killing people. Dan has to be physically held back from murdering people several times, and only learns how to control his addiction through meditation at the last second.
    • When Dan starts training others in magic, the military Colonel is dismissive of the entire concept, saying that Dan clearly just has PTSD and is deflecting his own weaknesses onto some made-up problem to make himself feel better. He says that the military will have their own psychiatrists monitoring the situation, but his men will not be meditating or doing any other "New Age hippie bullshit." Dan is very worried that this is creating a bunch of ticking time bombs. When he meets up with the soldiers later, he finds that they're fine, because they've been meditating as he suggested. The military psychiatrists took one look at Dan's summary of mana addiction, agreed with his assessment, and immediately ordered weekly meditation sessions. Colonel Bowman raged and refused to meditate himself, but legally couldn't actually order his men not to meditate.
  • Villains by Necessity: Use of a dark portal is both addictive and corrupting to the user.
  • In The War Gods, the ability to work magic is a siren call that a wizard of any kind can't resist. It's considered cruel beyond description to take away a wizard's magic powers and still leave him alive.
  • In The Wheel of Time:
    • Channelers of the One Power must discipline themselves not to use the Power too regularly: channeling comes with a rush of Super-Senses and feeling more alive that tempts them to draw more of the Power than they can handle, to the point of death or burning out their ability to channel. Channelers who have De-Powered by accident or as a punishment tend to lose the will to live and die within a year or two.
    • The True Power, drawn directly from the Dark One, is so addictive that using any noteworthy amount of it nearly guarantees that the channeler will eventually overdraw and die messily. It also comes with a heaping side of Drunk on the Dark Side that causes some nasty Sanity Slippage along the way.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The 10th Kingdom: The magic shoes. The Troll King appears to already be suffering from a crippling addiction to them at the story's outset, and Virginia falls under their spell very quickly. Somewhat deconstructed as well: the Troll King has an established shoe fetish and Wolf thinks Virginia just has a strong desire to be invisible, shrugging it off himself. Played with and lampshaded in that one of the pieces from the soundtrack is actually entitled "Addicted to Magic"...but instead of playing during anything to do with the magic shoes, it appears when Wolf tempts Tony with the magic bean, during the Dog Prince's Urine Trouble scene, and when the magic mushrooms are tempting Tony to eat them in the Deadly Swamp.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Giles's past as a demon summoner was treated a bit like a hooligan/stoner phase—he himself describes it as an extraordinary high. Willow's subplot in season six was less subtle. It started with her abusing Mundane Utility and getting carried away with her rapidly increasing power. It ended in "Wrecked", with her visiting an actual "pusher" who provided his customers with dark spells (analogous to harder drugs) and weird hallucinations. (It was later subject to an Author's Saving Throw that denied that magic itself is addictive)
  • Camelot: Merlin apparently stopped using magic due to this, since he liked it way too much.
  • Charmed (1998): Paige's boyfriend Richard in Season 6 is a witch who develops a serious problem with abusing and overusing magic. She and his family (ghosts included) stage an intervention in "I Dream of Phoebe", which he rejects at first, but by the end of the episode he is convinced to take a power-stripping potion.
  • In the Emerald City episode "Mistress - New - Mistress", West claims she's glad for the Wizard's laws as "magic was a drug even worse than the poppy."
  • Game of Thrones: As an adventurous young boy before being paralyzed, Bran gets very excited at his ability to warg into his direwolf Summer and it's natural for him to want to spend as much time running and hunting in Summer's skin as possible until he's spending hours doing it, but Jojen warns him that too much of this will cause him to forget he's actually human.
  • Legends of Tomorrow: In season 6, John Constantine's quest to regain his magic powers after sacrificing them to save the Legends from Aleister Crowley has similarities to a junkie taking increasingly risky steps to find a new fix, to the point where John starts taking a cocktail of vampire blood (itself an addictive substance that has a cumulatively degenerative effect on the user) to get it back.
  • The Magicians (2016): Referenced in the series tagline, "MAGIC IS A DRUG." Julia's behavior in pursuit of magic resembles an addiction to such a degree that people close to her actually believe she has gotten hooked on drugs and she even agrees to go to rehab. It is later explained to her that there is a reason for that.
    Chaplain Richard: The reason you treat magic like a drug, is because the people that taught it to you act like drug dealers. They buy it and they sell it, and they fight and they fuck for it.
  • Once Upon a Time has the two main villains, Regina and Rumplestiltskin / Mr. Gold, and both are addicted to their dark magical powers. Rumplestiltskin's dark magic has made his skin turn a weird greenish-gold with gold eyes after becoming the dark one, though Regina has still maintained her looks, she has a more cruel look to her than before she turned to dark magic. Archie Hopper (Jiminy Cricket) told Regina that starting the magic was always easier than stopping.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Changeling: The Lost: The most powerful Changelings become physically and psychologically dependent on Glamour and will start to die if they don't harvest a bare minimum every few days. Downplayed in that most Changelings never become powerful enough to experience it, but at the highest possible Wyrd score, they need a hefty 5 points per day — enough that they likely need to plan out their sources in advance. Of course, not long after that, it might not matter anymore...
  • In the Dark Sun setting 2e, set on a post-apocalyptic world damaged by arcane magic, there's an interesting variation. Arcane magic includes defiling (which requires less skill and training) which destroys plant life, and preserving (which requires more skill and a Wisdom requirement) which only lightly damages plant life. Arcane casters don't get addicted to spellcasting but can easily become addicted to the defiling method and never learn or use preserving. This is not good.
    • In the 4th Edition, there's no addiction rule. Instead, every arcane caster is given an ability (whether you want it or not) called Arcane Defiling. It's powerful, but there are both in- and out-of-game reasons not to use it. In a hard fight, a wizard player might find it hard to justify not using the power.
  • Generally, Magic: The Gathering just depicts it as a tool or as a form of self-expression, so there usually isn't an addictive component unless there is a curse involved. However, in earlier fluff Black and Red tended to intoxicate their spellcasters - being the colors of individuality and self-indulgence, it's not hard to see why.
  • The Third Edition Shadowrun supplement "Magic in the Shadows" introduced "focus addiction". If mages used foci too often there was a risk of their becoming addicted to and dependent upon them. This could cause them to become unable to use magic without a focus or even lose their magical abilities altogether.

    Video Games 
  • BioShock has a variation of "the substance that grants magic is highly addicting." Specifically, the population of Rapture discovered that a substance in sea slugs, Adam, could grant the user superpowers to to use around the house. However, Adam itself was highly addictive and eventually causes insanity as well as physical deterioration with prolonged use.
  • Sienna from The End Times: Vermintide is a bit addicted to the pyromancy of Bright Wizardry, making her a dangerous Pyromaniac. An invasion by a horde of Skaven soon convinces Saltzpyre, who is taking her to trial, to let her have her way with the endless horde of murderous ratfolk instead. In Vermintide II, the Unchained class option sees her giving in fully to the addiction; her playstyle as an Unchained appropriately is at its best when she's just barely below a magic-induced Heroic RRoD.
  • In Infernal, Barbara seems to think that Lennox (the player character) is becoming addicted to the demonic powers he receives from the Abyss, either because it's inherently corrupting or because he just likes the power. Lennox does seem pretty keen to get the powers back once he's lost them, but whether there really is an addiction or whether it's just practicality isn't stated outright.
  • The climax of Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords has a variation. The conversation between the player and the Big Bad has the Big Bad reveal that she thinks The Force itself is a destructive cancer and wants to destroy it, no matter how much death and damage that will do to galactic society. The player can point out how that's hypocritical for a powerful force-user and Sith Lord as herself, and she'll defend herself by saying she's only studying The Force in the same way a chemist will study a poison...and then comment that maybe that's just an excuse and the truth is that she's addicted to wielding the Force.
  • In Mega Man Battle Network, the Dark Chips (very powerful versions of normal Battle Chips, Made of Evil) are stated to be addicting to use; just one use will lead to the Net Navi slowly getting more and more dependent on it. Dark Chip users also tend to become easily irritated and being pricks. In gameplay terms, the Dark Chip, if you have any, will come out to your chip selection window when Mega Man is in the "anxious" state (if he gets hit a lot without retaliating), pretty much tempting the player to use it to turn the tides; the more you use it, the easier Mega Man will get "anxious". Using them will also give the effect of Maximum Hp Reduction per each use, much like how drugs slowly eat your body.
  • World of Warcraft: The Blood Elves became addicted to Mana. As High Elves they were able to draw on the energies of the Sunwell to sate their addiction, but it was defiled and tainted by the Scourge. The main schism between High and Blood Elves arose because they disagreed over the best way to cope with their condition. High Elves prefer to meditate and master their cravings and Blood Elves started finding other sources on which to feed — including demonic energy. Some of them were able to control that addiction; some of them were transformed into wasted, addicted beings called the Wretched.
    • Notably, becoming addicted to magic is the only way a male Blood Elf (or female for that matter) can go bald — making it a literal Bald of Evil.
    • Strictly speaking, all mortals can become addicted to arcane magic in the setting. The effects of casting an arcane spell are described in terms that make it sound a lot like real-world drugs and mages may feel the urge to cast the spell again for the thrill it causes. The MMO even makes a joking reference to real-life anti-drug campaigns with this in-game book: [1] (contents are posted in the comments).
    • Even more dangerous is fel magic — that is, demonic energy — which is even more addictive and MUCH more corrupting.
    • Recently, an information dump on warlocks has revealed that even demons are addicted to magic. Their addiction is characterized by the distinct fel green tint. Illidan had something that could cure that addiction, which is why none of the demons in his service had the green theme.
    • The Nightborne in Legion are the most extreme example seen so far. Having spent 10,000 years relying on the Nightwell's energy after sealing themselves away, they're completely reliant on its energy. Whereas Blood Elves need a long time to become Wretched, it can take only days or even hours for Nightborne to devolve into Withered. Parallels with addiction are made even clearer with their preferred methods of imbibing mana being ground crystals, powder, and wine; body language of Nightfallen resembling that of hard drug addicts; and several characters obviously desperate for another hit. There's a reason many players have taken to flat-out calling them junkies.

    Web Originals 

    Western Animation 
  • My Little Pony:
    • My Little Pony: Escape From Catrina: Witchweed Potion is a powerful magic amplifier that is also incredibly addictive. It's unclear if Catrina can even use magic without supping it, or if that's a symptom of how addicted she's become.
    • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic: In "Inspiration Manifestation", the spellbook effectively serves as this for Rarity. Under its influence, she stops eating, grows increasingly manic in her behavior, and is only free of it when Spike finally stops enabling her and makes her realize how harmful it is.
  • The Smurfs (1981): Allura's magic orb in "Lure Of the Orb" imbues whoever touches it with what they think is heightened inspiration, but it is only a temporary boost of euphoric energy that leaves the person feeling drained and addicted to its power.
  • Steven Universe: Fusion has the potential to become this, because it gives the user a Power High. On another level, fusions are a metaphor for relationships, and their addictive quality can be interpreted as developing a codependency.
    • Both Amethyst and Pearl love fusing with Garnet for this reason and because doing so allows them to feel Garnet's balance and confidence. This ends up causing serious problems- Amethyst fused with Garnet (Sugilite) is highly reckless and destructive, and Pearl gets so addicted to the confidence boost that she fakes enemy operation in order to have more chances to fuse into Sardonyx.
    • Later, this is revealed to be the case for Lapis and Jasper after having spent months fused as Malachite, fueled by their hatred. The former realizes how destructive it was but still feels some sort of longing for the latter...who took it much worse and became obsessed with the power it granted them and is now more or less stalking the former as a result.

    Real Life 
  • Spirit fillings in religious circles, like in modern-day Christian revival gatherings, serve as a real-life form of addictive magic, even to the point where the recipients express the feelings like they're having an orgasm. Although it is possible that there really isn't any magic involved at all and the people are just caught up in the emotionalism of a placebo effect. Some have even gone so far as to lay on the graves of "anointed" religious people like Kathryn Kuhlman and seek to absorb the anointing that was in their bodies.
  • Some real-life ancient rites (e.g. clergy of Apollo chewing acacia leaves) did involve the use of drugs, probably including some addictive ones.