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Addled Addict

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"When I was sober, my family loved me. And my hat wasn't blue..."

"I need morphine! Is it true that my eyes are like buttons? I feel gripes inside my belly, as if I am filled with straw."
Catherina, Pathologic
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When a drug addict is left a physical and mental wreck from their addiction to drugs or alcohol. The signs are typically what they would be in real life; their visage noticeably deteriorates, they are increasingly unreliable and regularly fail to meet obligations, are often visibly drunk or strung out and, if they are on drugs, may be associating with sketchy and often dangerous people, and are also prone to theft, scams, and scheming to acquire money to feed their habits. The decline is often documented as a way of showing Drugs Are Bad. This is distinct from the Functional Addict (who is still capable of accomplishing the tasks of everyday life), but the Functional Addict may become this. In cynical works, this can be the endpoint of a Descent into Addiction character arc.

Also distinct from The Alcoholic (where the character trait is simply that they are usually drunk), but there definitely can be overlap.

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The Logical Extreme is someone being killed by their addiction. If they're part of a Very Special Episode, they may get support and become a Recovered Addict.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In the Black Lagoon story arc involving Abu Sayyaf, the Triad enlists as Revy and Rock's chauffeur to the US military base an assassin named Shenhua and a driver named Leigarch who is continuously snorting coke. A previous overdose resulted in frequent hallucinations, and between then and Shenhua's next appearance in the Greenback Jane arc, he apparently OD'd again and wrecked his brain to the point where he had to be institutionalized.

    Comic Books 
  • In Cruelty, Reis Northcotte's mother is implied to be this; certainly, she is a Missing Mom due to her frequent arrests. His dad takes this to the Logical Extreme, having died of an overdose.
  • The trope image provider, Unkept Promise, is a pro-temperance propaganda comic about the apparent dangers of alcohol, illustrating this with the story of a family man who immediately goes on a hard downward spiral after trying just one glass of booze. He forecloses on his house, loses his job, repeatedly ends up in the drunk tank, his family falls into poverty, and apparently his hat turns blue.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): A drug addict desperate for a high knocks a police officer out a window while trying to steal drugs. He doesn't even seem to know he just nearly murdered someone when Diana disarms him and rescues the cop, and the cop is furious her shoulder was injured because Diana was trying to help both of them as she sees the junkie as beyond help.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Bloom County, Bill the Cat is the character most frequently stated to use drugs other than alcohol, tobacco, or dandelions, which helps explain why his average mood is practically brain-dead.
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    Fan Works 
  • Codex Equus has Moon Ray Vaughoof. Moon Ray's entry notes that he consumed so much drugs and alcohol that his judgement and music-playing were severely impeded, and he became prone to making dumb choices. When he started having prophetic nightmares about himself drowning in water no matter how hard he tried to swim up, Moon Ray tried suppressing them with more alcohol, and he later collapsed and nearly died on tour as a result. Both doctors and Zebra musician Smooth Neck predicted he wouldn't live long to the age of forty (which came true, but in a different way) because of how much he damaged himself with his habits. Fortunately, Moon Ray's near-death experience motivated him to clean himself up and cut out all the toxic people in his life, including his wife at the time, Crystal Light, whom he divorced after discovering her unsavory traits. Meeting Velvet Heart, his fiancée and later wife, made him swear off alcohol and drugs completely, and he was a completely Recovered Addict by the time of his death. His presence in the Fourth Age as an Alicorn god implies he has been sober for over tens of thousands of years.
  • Yukari in the Azumanga Daioh fic Control becomes this after she starts injecting drugs. The first chapter starts with her arriving at Nyamo's house in the middle of the night, beaten up and oblivious to her surroundings.
  • In Coping, Sunset's addiction to over-the-counter drugs contrasts with the other characters' more stable usage of cigarettes and marijuana. Sunset's becoming more addicted. It's gotten to the point where even Twilight notices that something is wrong with her.
  • In the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story "The New Shop In The Village", Empath in a dream sees that the Smurf Village has devolved into a drug-fueled Sugar Apocalypse and that most of the Smurfs and Smurfettes in it are all junkies that look like "the walking dead", all because smurfnip has been legalized.
  • Happens to Matt in the It Matters collection of Death Note fanfictions, brought on by Mello's (Canon) decision to leave Wammy's House (and thus Matt) behind without bothering to say goodbye or make contact with him until the (also Canon) explosion. Matt began using drugs (opiates in particular), alcohol, and empty sex (as well as Self Harming) to cope with the pain of losing Mello. When they are reunited, he starts on a path to recovery by Going Cold Turkey. He is mostly successful, though he does fall Off the Wagon every now and again, which does put a strain on his marriage to Mello.
  • In the Laying Waste To Halloween, Annabeth becomes addicted to drugs, which have both physical and mental side effects. She has sores on her mouth from the drugs and she's started to disassociate and not be there.
  • In Their Bond, Link is a Shell-Shocked Veteran and former Child Soldier who took to alcohol and illegal potions to help calm his demons. After finding out about the drug usage, Impa considers him a danger to Zelda because Link already holds too much power while sober, nevermind if he isn't in the right mind.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Adam & Paul is about two homeless heroin addicts who have lost the ability to care about almost anything except their next fix. They'll do anything for it, including mugging a teenager with Down syndrome, who turns out not to have anything valuable. When Adam overdoses, Paul takes what's left of the heroin from his jacket pocket.
  • Jim/the Waco Kid starts out with a bad case of the DT's in Blazing Saddles, at least on one side, although he gets over it fairly quickly.
  • Lloyd from Bloody Mama is a morphine addict who seems more or less functional at first, but becomes increasingly dopey and out of it until he OD's, becoming the first Barker to die.
  • Citizen Ruth has Ruth addicted to the petrol-based fumes of aerosol cans. She is found in an alley in a catatonic state by police, who identify her and arrest her for being wasted in public. While in the city jail, Ruth gets a handful of pro-life protesters as cellmates. They take pity on Ruth and discover that she's pregnant. Ruth shrewdly withholds some critical details, though: she's had four other children removed from her custody for being an unfit mother, and her current baby's father is a slumball john named Ricky.
  • The Confirmation: Drake turns out to be high on meth while he's helping Walt and Anthony look for the stolen tools and needlessly provokes conflict while taking them on all kinds of dead ends.
  • Christopher Boyce gets his drug dealer acquaintance Daulton Lee to help him conduct US military and intelligence secrets to the Soviets in The Falcon and the Snowman. He runs into problems because Lee gets greedy, and also because Lee's own addiction to cocaine makes him careless.
  • Tim from Fragment of Fear is a Recovered Addict who occasionally sees some of his old friends, including a miserable-looking junkie shooting up in an alley while curious teenager watch him from the street.
  • A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night: Hossein is a heroin addict, though he does have a few lucid scenes.
  • Jurassic City: Erika, one of the prisoners. She thinks she's hallucinating the dinosaurs and another time sees a giant bunny instead of one of them.
  • In Kongo, Dr. Kingsland is a wild-eyed, twitchy, hollow shell of a drug addict, hooked on "bhang root". Kingsland says that he was actually sent to the Congo to fight drug addiction in the colony, but at some point, he "just stopped fighting."
  • In Little Laura And Big John, very near the end of the film we see that the eponymous Laura has drunk herself stupid after John's death.
  • Kyle and Dusty in Meth Head. They struggled to find money and suffered some bad side effects from all the meth they snorted.
  • In Pulp Fiction, Vincent Vega's cool, collected, impossible-to-faze exterior hides the fact that he is a heroin-addled moron who would have wound up getting himself killed a long time ago if it wasn't for Jules being there to continually rescue him from his own gorked-out stupidity. In fact, not having Jules around quickly results in his death.
  • While all the main characters in Requiem for a Dream have their lives destroyed by their drug addiction, for three of them it's the things they do in an attempt to feed their addictions rather than the effects of the drugs themselves that do them in (although Harry loses his arm to gangrene). The only one who suffers from this trope is poor Sara, who's rendered insensible by her diet pill addiction until she's institutionalised, forced to undergo electroshock therapy, and reduced to a withered, insane, near-catatonic ruin.
  • Three on a Match: Vivian's degradation as she goes from society wife to companion of deadbeat loser Michael ends with her being addicted to heroin. She is gaunt, hollow-eyed, and twitchy when the kidnappers bring "Junior" to the hideout. Harve sees her compulsively rubbing her nose, mimics her nose-rubbing, and says "Uh oh!" Later Vivian goes through withdrawal.
  • In Traffic, Caroline goes from straight-A student to crack whore after she is introduced to freebasing cocaine.
  • Pink's drug use is implied to be one of the reasons why his wife cheated on him in The Wall. At one point, after he's engaged in a little Artistic Stimulation, she tries to speak to him, but he just looks at her like "daaahhhh..."
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past: Past Charles Xavier is so far gone with his alcoholism and self-medication that he can't function without Hank McCoy's help.

    Literature 
  • Tim Benzedrine in Bored of the Rings. In his more lucid moments, he readily admits that binging on drugs has destroyed his brain.
  • By the time of Borrasca V, the main character has become a complete wreck who's totally dependent on heroin as a way to escape the physical and emotional pain of the first story. It's even invoked: Sam's father has been secretly paying off his dealer for the express purpose of keeping him drug-addled and docile.
  • Discworld:
    • Subverted by Mr. Tulip of The Truth. He's not addled because of drugs so much as because of all the ridiculous things he tries to ingest thinking they're drugs. Household cleaners, mostly.
      Mr. Pin: Let's go through this again. Drugs equals chemicals, but, and please listen to this part, sheesh, chemicals do not equal drugs!
    • Played straight with Brick from Thud!, a homeless teenage troll who's usually buzzed out of his mind on Slab, Scrape, or whatever other Fantastic Drug he's managed to get his hands on to provide a brief respite from his lonely, miserable existence. After he turns out to be a witness to a murder, Sergeant Detritus of the Watch takes him under his wing and helps him sober up.
  • In Dragon Bones, there is the protagonist's mother, who takes several drugs, and is almost always drugged. The fact that she's never quite there strongly implies that the drug abuse has affected her brain. Close to the end, Ward uses his magical "find" ability to look for her ... and doesn't find her, even when he finds her body.
  • The Elenium:
    • Kragar, one of Martel's minions, is a none-too-bright alcoholic easily controlled with promises of his favorite wine. While the sequel series intially presented him as a Functional Addict who had been playing up his addiction, he soon lost his battle with the addiction and by the end of the books had lost his mind and was facing death to liver failure.
    • King Wargun is said to have gone insane from drink between the two series and is locked in one wing of the palace at the beginning of the sequel, where he ultimately dies.
  • In The First Law series, the Lovable Rogue mercenary leader Nicomo Cosca goes from a Functional Addict with a drinking problem to one of these by the end of Red Country, with a lot of description given to how much of a physical and mental wreck he has become. It also seems like as his alcoholism gets worse from novel to novel, he also declines morally, and is basically the Big Bad of Red Country.
  • In the Flashman series, Flashman's father, Buckley, ends up in this state, helped along by experiencing a financial collapse from bad investments. In the first novel of the series, he's a bad-tempered old rake with a drinking problem, and shortly after that, he's put in an asylum to be treated for the DTs. He appears as a POV character in the spin-off novel Black Ajax but doesn't really show up after that (except for mentions of his bad physical and mental health), and it is implied that his son basically left him there to rot.
  • Father Kabani from Hard to Be a God, alchemist, alcoholic and a total burnout. He started to drown his sorrows after seeing too many of his inventions used for war and torture. By the time of the novel, he is a complete wreck.
  • When we meet Seivarden in the Imperial Radch books, she's strung out on kef and effectively useless. She struggles with keeping clean for the rest of the series.
  • You Only Live Twice: In this book, James Bond is a wreck who can barely keep his job as a 00-agent, going off the rails after Tracy's death in On Her Majesty's Secret Service by consuming a lot of booze and getting multiple hangovers on a daily basis.
  • In Metaltown, Colin's brother Hayden is addicted to alcohol and drugs, can't hold a job down or find places to stay, and is willing to betray those close to him to get a steady supply.
  • Bulwa of Shaman Blues. He apparently tried to shut down his magic Sight with alcohol and drugs, and by the time Witkacy meets him, he's an insane beggar living in the gutters and babbling incoherently.
  • Sherlock Holmes is portrayed like this in some pastiches, most notably The Seven-Per-Cent Solution.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrow Invoked in Season 2. Laurel is the only one to see through Sebastian Blood's Villain with Good Publicity act. Part of Blood's plan to discredit her is to expose her addiction problems. When everyone else learns of it, they (and even she) conclude her addiction is the only reason she thought this about him. Arguably inverted, as despite her addiction she was the only one to recognize that he was in fact a villain.
  • Rodrigo Borgia takes vitriola (diethyl ether) for a good part series two Borgia and suffers hallucinations and erratic behaviour, not a good state to be in whilst being pope.
  • Ellie Rooney on the short-lived show EZ Streets is a barely functioning heroin addict.
  • The First Lady: Betty Ford is increasingly affected by her drinking and pill use, having panic attacks that scare her family or flubbing her words in a public speech. Finally they stage an intervention to get her help.
  • Hightown: Many characters, including one sad example with the mother of a young baby, are very seriously affected due to their alcohol or drug abuse. Jackie herself commits DUI and gets into a car accident. She gets into trouble with the law over it, threatening her career, though usually she's a Functional Addict.
  • In House, Dr. House starts having a mental breakdown over his Vicodin addiction causing him to suffer hallucinations of Amber (Wilson's girlfriend whose death he inadvertently contributed to) and, at the end of season 5, Kutner (who committed suicide and whose death helped trigger the hallucinations).
  • While many students from El internado: Las Cumbres dabble in drugs/alcohol, Eva takes the cake at the school. She is seen huffing spray and by her own description, has a whole pharmacy in her mattress. She is so dependent on pills that at one point, she implores Adèle for assistance because she is no longer able to convince the school doctor to issue her any kind of downers.
  • Miami Vice has quite a few, but the worst is probably Yvonne from "Too Much, Too Late," who lets her dealer rape her adolescent daughter in exchange for crack.
  • Dolores Mayo, the interim civilian aide played by Lola Glaudini on NYPD Blue, just seemed shy at first. Then it was revealed she was using heroin. Then she went downhill very fast.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: We have the Jem'Hadar, a race of artificially-grown alien soldiers for the Dominion who are genetically engineered to be addicted to a narcotic called Ketracil White, as a means of ensuring their loyalty to the Founders. Jem'Hadar who go without Ketracil White for too long lose their ability to cloak themselves and risk going into cardiac arrest or going on a berserk rampage.
    • Star Trek: Picard: We learn more about Raffi's backstory in "Stardust City Rag". When she falls prey to drug addiction after she's fired from Starfleet, she ends up neglecting her son and her husband to such a high degree that they kick her out of the house, which is why we see her living alone in a hovel in her introductory scene.
  • Without a Trace's Martin Fitzgerald's behavior gets increasingly erratic as he develops an addiction to painkillers, culminating in him nearly getting himself, his partner, and the Victim of the Week killed. His partner, a recovering alcoholic himself note , doesn't buy his feeble excuses—"I know what an addict looks like". Several months later, having gotten his act together, it's Martin's turn to notice the signs of addiction in a suspect—"I know a junkie when I see one."
  • In 1996, Natalie from Yellowjackets drinks and uses drugs but is also an athlete. When she first appears in the pilot episode, set in the current day, she's about to exit rehab (paid by her former teammate Taissa) and not for the first time. When another teammate forcibly prevents her from using cocaine, she resorts to snorting the residue that fell on the carpet.

    Music 
  • Danny Brown's "Party All the Time" (which is very likely about the girl from "Nosebleeds") chronicles the downward spiral of a Hard-Drinking Party Girl as she becomes less and less able to control her substance usage, shifts to harder and harder drugs, drops out of college, and begins prostituting herself to fund her habit.
  • C Block"So Strung Out". The narrator is addicted to cocaine and considers suicide.
  • "The Wolf" by SIAMES is about three addicts being tirelessly chased by wolves who symbolize their respective vices and are hellbent on catching them to show that they can't avoid the consequences of their actions.
  • Quite a few characters in the songs of Townes Van Zandt, including "Waiting 'Round To Die" and "White Freight Liner Blues". Sadly, a case of Write What You Know.

    Theatre 
  • The appropriately named Blowpipe in Jim Cartwright's Road.
  • In Jasper In Deadland, Jasper father is a drug addict who's life has clearly been ruined by the addiction. In the song "The Killing", Jasper implies that his father is just waiting to die.
    He's a human after a killing
    Filling his days with hope to score.
    Choking back, 'til life gets more thrilling,
    Chilling his drinks, knowing not who for.

    Video Games 
  • The protagonist of Disco Elysium starts the game after having drunk so much and having snorted so much speed that he has amnesia about who he really is. He's also deranged (sometimes usefully) and suicidal as the result of his own addictions, and it's stated that the alcohol has mangled his body so much that he's a major risk for a heart attack for normal exertions, such as sitting in an uncomfortable chair or turning on the lights while hungover. He finds that his behaviour under the influence has caused him to wreck his police car, lose his badge, pawn off his gun and make all of his coworkers loathe him so much that they assigned him on a case as an insult to the other department involved.
  • Fallout:
    • Fallout: New Vegas:
      • The Fiends, a gang of raiders who are defined by their drug-fueled insanity. A member of First Recon even mentions that she feels bad for them since, unlike the Legion, she feels that they're not entirely lucid and aware of their surroundings.
      • Old World Blues has Dr. Mobius, who regularly abuses drugs such as Mentats and Psycho, which furthers his mental degradation to the point of making him senile. He uses the Psycho to give himself the edge to threaten the other members of the Think Tank since he's normally incredibly docile.
      • Vera Keyes, the starlet who Sinclair fell for in Dead Money had a long-running Med-X (painkiller) addiction. This made her susceptible to blackmail by Dean Domino. As the War drew closer, she became more addled, having a glazed look that even construction workers deduced was due to addiction, then needing Super Stimpaks to take the edge off. She eventually required an Auto-doc to be installed in her room exclusively for her use. Unbeknownst to her but know by Sinclair, Vera was terminally ill. When we find her, she is surrounded by Med-X needles, implying death by overdose.
    • Fallout 4: Cait, who is on the fast lane to becoming one due to her addiction to Psycho, which makes her unstable and eventually causes her to start coughing up blood.
  • In Far Cry 5, Bliss is a powerfully psychoactive drug that, in addition to its euphoric effects, can be used to condition and brainwash people. While even moderate exposure can be recovered from, long-term, severe addicts are little more than zombies, their higher functions seeming to be completely gone.
  • The painkiller Joy plays a fairly large role in LISA; the protagonist, Brad, along with several recruitable party members, suffer from Joy Withdrawal. When suffering withdrawal, the character's stats tank and they are practically useless until the withdrawal is gone. You can even make your other characters Joy addicts by giving them some of the drug.
  • In Psychonauts 2, Bob Zanotto has become this as a result of a series of tragic events in his life overwhelmed him to the point of driving him to seclusion and heavy drinking, turning a once gentle and kind man into a self-destructive mood swinger. Raz has to go into his mind and fight the manifestations of his alcoholism and tragedies of his life, including the death of his mother, the seeming death of his lover, and his firing by his nephew from the Psychonauts organization in order to make him face his inner demons.
  • Re:Kuroi: Ether medicine is highly addictive and can give the user magic powers. However, the medicine can drive them mad and turn them into monsters. Worse yet, if the user doesn't keep taking it, they'll run out of ether, lose their powers, and go blind. In Act 11, Asha betrays Kaito and steals the Black Pearl shard in the hopes that it can provide an alternate ether supply to her.
  • In The Sims 3, you can make a Sim this by assigning them the Absent-Minded, Inappropriate, Insane, or Unstable traits (or all of the above) along with the Party Animal trait, and/or assigning them those traits and having them do nothing but drink, eat, eat/burn herbs, consume potions with negative effects, WooHoo with anyone and everyone, play video games nonstop, or otherwise engage in an addictive behavior.
  • We Happy Few is set in Wellington Wells, an entire town of these. Taking Joy to live in a state of constant euphoria and forget the Very Bad Thing is mandatory, and townspeople react very badly to non-addicts, or "Downers". This has caused the entire town to begin crumbling at the seams, as everyone is too high on Joy to even notice obvious problems like broken systems, paperwork backlog, and food supply running out.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • On the Dream SMP, Schlatt's addiction to alcohol, protein powder, and anabolic steroids took a heavy toll on his health, both physical and mental, and likely caused the heart attack (or stroke) that took his final life.
  • SCP Foundation: SCP-1481 is a genie who is utterly useless at granting wishes because he is perpetually stoned out of his mind and addicted to practically every recreational drug imaginable. He typically alternates between begging for more drugs and conjuring up food to satisfy his own munchies (when asked why he doesn't just conjure up drugs for himself too, he broke down in tears, apparently having never thought of this before). During one of his drug-fueled incoherent ramblings, he reveals that he just wants to grant wishes and make people happy, but can't, because some Jerkass wished him into his current state, and then made a second wish to make the first wish irreversible, purely For the Evulz.

    Web Videos 
  • The character of Sugar in Hot Bikini Beans is a once upon a time math teacher who is reduced to a Meth-addict trying to scrape by.
  • The Call of Warr: Upon finding a jar of orange pills in the train station, Killsin's instinct is to steal them and pretend they don't exist... while scarfing down as many as he can, in every scene he's in. As soon as episode two, he's already almost dead from an overdose, and it's implied the pills may be messing with his mind as well. Not that he cares, as he continues to take them, despite warnings.

    Western Animation 
  • Arcane: In the deepest pit of what will one day be Zaun, a colony of addicts to Shimmer live in rags and beg for money. The incentive of more Shimmer drives Huck, who otherwise wanted to help Vi to repay Vander, to sell her location out to Silco.
  • BoJack Horseman:
    • Sarah Lynn is a great example from a TV show about a horse. Her drug addiction spawned from a Trauma Conga Line including the burden of being a child star who'd once had dreams outside of that realm, a sensation pop princess who was left isolated, strongly implied inappropriate contact with her stepfather, horrible advice from BoJack whom she looked to as a father figure in light of her unexplained Disappeared Dad, etc., etc., etc. By the time she was 30, she had become the typical starlet case–druggie whom no one cared for anymore. She died at only 31 years old after nine months of sobriety due to a heroin overdose.
      BoJack: Well you should... not... do that. [contact one of the billion people who will let her party at their house]
      Sarah Lynn: Oh, I know. I know, but I can, so I will. I'm at a point in my life where I don't have to "grow as a person" or "rise to an occasion," so I can just keep surrounding myself with sycophants and enablers until I die tragically young.
      BoJack: Wh-what?
      Sarah Lynn: Yeah, it's pretty much too late for me.
    • Season 5 sees BoJack himself get hooked on opiates after a stunt goes wrong and, rather than allow him time to recover fully, is pressured back onto the set of Philbert to keep filming the first season. This leads to him driving into traffic when he runs out of his medication in the hopes of getting more at the hospital and, in the penultimate episode of the season, strangling his costar because he could no longer discern between reality and fiction. And the finale reveals he has no memory of what he'd done, only finding out after watching the footage.
  • Dr. Rockzo, the deranged "Rock-and-Roll Clown" from Metalocalypse, has cocaine addiction as one of his primary character traits. He was once a famous rock star, but has since deteriorated into a drug-addicted mess.

Alternative Title(s): The Junkie

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