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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

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 every day 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.


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.


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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 a Knife Nut 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.
  • 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.

    Fan Works 
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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 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 
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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..."
  • 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.
  • Kyle and Dusty in Meth Head. They struggled to find money and suffered some bad side effects from all the meth they snorted.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • King Wargun and Krager in The Tamuli. Wargun (who is still sane in The Elenium) is said to be insane from drink and locked in one wing of the palace at the beginning, and Krager has lost his mind and is dying at the end. It's mentioned that, by the end of The Tamuli, Wargun is dead as well.
  • 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 DT's. 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.
  • Tim Benzedrine in Bored of the Rings. In his more lucid moments, he readily admits that binging on drugs has destroyed his brain.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Sherlock Holmes is portrayed like this in some pastiches, most notably The Seven-Per-Cent Solution.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Ellie Rooney on the short-lived show ''EZ Streets' is a barely functioning heroin addict.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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 of 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.
  • 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.
  • 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."


  • The appropriately named Blowpipe in Jim Cartwright's Road.

    Video Games 
  • 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 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, Woo Hoo with anyone and everyone, play video games nonstop, or otherwise engage in an addictive behavior.
  • 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.
  • Fallout: New Vegas has 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.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • 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 
  • 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 32 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.

    Real Life 
  • Jacques François Mouret, once an excellent chessplayer and director of The Turk (a chess-playing "automaton") was a notorious drunk. George Walker would later mourn "he unhappily formed habits of dissipation fatal to his respectability and standing in society. He burnt out his brain with brandy and died recently in Paris reduced to the extremest stage of misery and degradation." Mouret was only 50 years old.
  • hide was an extremely talented guitarist, one of the pioneers of Avant-Garde Metal, and likely could have been one of the few people with the capability to have made Japanese Heavy Metal and Visual Kei a fixture in the global metal scene far earlier than it was. Unfortunately, he was also a hardcore alcoholic, and while he remained a Functional Addict for a while, around 1994, his alcoholism had reached the point of severe and life-threatening, and only worsened from there. In 1998, he died as a result of an accident involving self-inflicted asphyxiation, with a BAC buried in alcohol poisoning range and evidence of methamphetamine use, at 33 years old.
  • Taiji Sawada was a virtuoso bassist and guitarist, one of the first Japanese rockers to fuse metal and country-western music, and unfortunately a raging alcoholic and user of stimulant drugs as well. He moved from Functional Addict to Addled Addict territory around the early 1990s, in part leading to his being kicked from both X Japan and Loudness, becoming entirely broke and homeless and his mental illnesses getting out of control, being almost killed in a fight with another homeless man, and only slowly putting his life back together - only to fall Off the Wagon again, one last time, in 2011, which led to his arrest and to his suspicious death at 45 years old.
  • Syd Barrett, a former Pink Floyd member around when the band just released their first album. He became increasingly paranoid and schizophrenic and his drug use didn't help matters much. During recording sessions and concerts he phazed out, unable to do anything but stare. The others kicked him out of the band and Barrett recorded two solo albums, after which he became a recluse dealing with drug addiction and mental instability for the remaining 40 years of his life.
  • Herman Brood, a Dutch rock star was infamous for using every possible drug in existence. During interviews he often appeared to be confused or continually drawing attention to himself in ways that didn't always made a lot of sense. Many people had sympathy for Brood, who could be a very nice and charming person. Unfortunately this was also one of the reasons why his addictions wrecked his health. Police officers and customs agents never confiscated his drugs because they took sympathy on him. By 2001 Brood was told by his doctor that his body was totally spent and he had only two months to live. The rockstar decided not to wait that long and committed suicide by jumping of the roof of a hotel building.
  • Amy Winehouse's drug addictions also took their toll later in her career. Despite having a best-selling record, Back to Black, she was never able to cash in on it properly, because she was often too stoned or drunk to actually be able to record or perform. Everytime she made the news it was for public drunkenness or drug use, making a total fool out of herself. She died at age 27, with the long anticipated successor to Back To Black only appearing after her death.
  • Similarly, Courtney Love has a notable record of drug abuse, leading to an infamous appearance on The Roast of Pamela Anderson in which she was very visibly out of it despite protestations of "I've been sober for a YEAR!"
  • Phil Katz was a genius computer programmer and the creator of the .zip file format, as well as a pioneer of freeware and shareware. His crippling social awkwardness forced him to turn to alcohol to loosen up while running his company, PKWARE. Unfortunately, this led to extreme alcoholism and estrangement from his family and co-workers, and he drank himself to death in 2000 at age 37.

Alternative Title(s): The Junkie


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