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Drugs Are Bad

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"Now, as I was saying, uh, drugs are bad. 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. Drugs are bad, m'kay."
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; though it can also be done well, with perspective and sincerity, particularly by artists who have firsthand experience with the downside of the drug scene.

Although drugs, both legal and illegal, can have devastating effects on the lives of their users (and have resulted in the untimely deaths of countless people), 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 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. The theory has no proper scientific basis whatsoever (some people do, some people don't, and there's been tests done on animals, but it'd be pretty unethical to hand out pot to kids and see how many move on to crack), but science would just get in the way of some scare tactics.

On the other hand, many anti-drug advocates would argue that compared to all the rest of the ugly, violent history of the War on Drugs, simply advising kids to steer clear of them should be the most obvious, straightforward, and least controversial course of action possible. Although hyperbole can easily sabotage the intended message.

A common way to express this trope is via the character arc Descent into Addiction, which depicts a character's gradual slide into addictive behavior.

Note that the full name of the trope should be "Recreational Drugs Are Bad", which is not to say that prescription drugs can't be dangerous when abused (see Valley of the Dolls). If you or the characters take the title at face value, you've got a case of Mistaken for Junkie.

It's hard to disagree that there was a considerable element of hypocrisy in Hollywood producing so many works with this message, considering how widespread drug use has always been in the entertainment industry. While the recent pendulum swing in the opposite direction may mean the industry is now admitting its own issues more honestly, that still may not constitute being objective about the matter (however one wishes to define objectivity).

Any story about Prohibition Era gangsters is likely to walk an odd tightrope, since Prohibition was rescinded and society no longer condemns alcohol the way it does other drugs, but gangsters murdering people to make a buck off the stuff are still likely to be portrayed very negatively (though, like pirates, they're also likely to be highly romanticized).

See also The Aggressive Drug Dealer, that monster from the '80s and '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. See also Addled Addict and Drunk Driver. See also Recovered Addict, who often delivers this Aesop, Smoking Is Not Cool, where the moral is specifically about the downsides of tobacco, and the Anti-Alcohol Aesop, which is about the dangers of drinking alcohol specifically. A song with this message is an Ode to Sobriety. For the opposite of this trope, when drugs and drug use are portrayed positively, see Drugs Are Good or Higher Understanding Through Drugs. Compare and contrast to Anvilicious.

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.

Example subpages:

Other examples

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  • 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 brain's 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).
    • Parodied when MTV showed SpongeBob SquarePants: "This is your brain. This is your brain on SpongeBob!"
    • Parodied in The Goldbergs episode "Muscles Mirsky".
  • The aforementioned PSA was later remade in The '90s as the unforgettable "This Is Your Brain On Heroin", which starred Rachael Leigh Cook trashing a kitchen with a frying pan to show the damage that drugs do not only to their users but to the people around them.
    • And then there's the great Robot Chicken parody of the '90s version.
    • Ironically, twenty years later, Cook herself would turn the message on its head and remake the ad as "Your Brain on Drug Policy", a vicious excoriation of the War on Drugs and the damage it does to working-class people and communities (especially people of color).
  • 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.
  • Captain Lou Albano had a pretty infamous one where he explicitly stated (on for a TV station's kids block in Philadelphia) that "if you do drugs, you go to Hell before you die"; Not helping the fact is that he appeared in the commercial in his costume from The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!.
  • 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 CollegeHumor here.
    • This kind of PSA is parodied in Harold & 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 "Peoples 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.
    • Indianapolis-based Hook's Drug was one of these waiting to happen, too. Also sold to CVS.
    • There is also this...
  • 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.
  • Paul Reubens (in-character as 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 (a satirical group).
  • 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 sang about tobacco to some teenagers.
  • This trope was the subject of a famous McGruff The Crime Dog PSA that ran for 25 years on kids' programming in the United States.
  • There are some pretty whacked out (and downright Nightmare Fuel ones) here.
  • The Partnership to End Addiction (formerly the Partnership for a Drug Free America) has many other PSAs besides the ones mentioned above such as one from 2006 in which text that appears over a photo tells a true story about a couple that were high on meth who, while lost in a blizzard, wound up freezing to death before help could reach them. All while the actual 911 call they made plays throughout. (This is the Real Life basis for the film Lost Signal.)
  • In the '90s, the Mexican television station TV Azteca ran an ad campaign aimed at children called Vive Sin Drogas ("Live Without Drugs"), consisting of two commercials wherein an anthropomorphic flower rapped about the dangers of doing drugs while a nearby boy failed to listen and died from an overdose.
  • Superman vs. Nick O'Teen is dedicated to teaching children that cigarettes are harmful, by showing the heroic Superman fighting a new villain named Nick O'Teen, The Aggressive Drug Dealer who tries to convince children that smoking is okay before handing cigarettes to them. Superman stops Nick O'Teen and crushes the cigarettes while telling the audience how harmful they are.
  • The Truth Initiative has a series of ads campaigning against smoking and vaping:

    Anime & Manga 
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind has Giorno Giovanna join the mafia in part so he and the others in his Ragtag Bunch of Misfits can shut down the mafia's drug empire from the inside.
  • 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 Numbers (before all the side effects, it lets the users relieve happier memories, so it's very popular with the conquered citizens).
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED and Mobile Suit 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 City Hunter, Ryo Saeba takes a special interest in cases involving drugs, and tries his hardest to help his clients kick any addictions they may have. This is because, as a Child Soldier in South America, he was forced to take an experimental LSD derivative that gifted him with his preternatural physical capabilities, but was highly addictive and dangerous. His interest is in preventing others from going through the hells of addiction that he had to endure.
  • 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 dub 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.
  • In Jormungand, this appears in the background of "The Hill of Ruin" arc. Koko, an arms dealer, ruthlessly refuses payment in drugs, but that may be simply related to her rule of not accepting credit. Lutz justifies the group's refusal (in the spectacular fashion of murdering an entire group of would-be drug dealers) by simply stating "We aren't drug dealers." Ugo himself, an ex-mafia member before joining the bodyguard team, is the only one spared in a flashback incident of this when he looks in disgust at his boss paying Koko in drugs by recalling how his brother lost his life to drugs.
  • Holyland examples:
  • In Cells at Work! CODE BLACK, the host body has been abusing nicotine and alcohol for a pretty long time, and the cells are overworked at trying to keep the system chugging on all the while being negatively affected by their host body's terrible habits (which also include an unhealthy diet and a lack of exercise). It all culminates in the body undergoing a near fatal heart attack that is essentially The End of the World as We Know It for the cells. Thankfully, doctors are able to resuscitate the body and clear out the clogged artery that caused the heart attack, plus this serves as a wake-up call to the host to start taking better care of himself.
  • Metamorphosis: Saki's downfall starts when Hayato plies her with booze and drugs. She gets hooked on having sex with him while high, and her addictions eventually escalate to the point that she takes payment for her sex work in drugs rather than money. After getting hooked on heroin, she tries to go sober after learning she's pregnant, but falls Off the Wagon due to the severe pain of withdrawal, and eventually dies from an overdose.

    Asian Animation 
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: In Happy, Happy, Bang, Bang! episode 50, Wilie almost accidientally drinks/sniffs glue after doing homework, but Wolffy stops him from doing so. And yes, drinking or sniffing glue is on the same level of bad as doing drugs. Even the Chinese text on the glue label is very obvious.

  • Bill Hicks attacked this idea without mercy.
    Bill Hicks: You see, I think drugs have done some good things for us. I really do. And if you don't believe drugs have done good things for us, do me a favor. Go home tonight. Take all your albums, all your tapes and all your CDs and burn them. 'Cause you know what, the musicians that made all that great music that's enhanced your lives throughout the years? Rrrrrreal fucking high on drugs. The Beatles were so fucking high they let Ringo sing a few tunes.
  • The Cheech & Chong comedy skit "Sgt. Stadanko" from Los Cochinos, where the titular character tries to convince the class of students that marijuana is a dangerous drug to deal with. This message goes over as well as you would expect it would with a bunch of Catholic high-school students that are being portrayed by the comedy duo. Plus the narcotics officer is so doped up that when a fight breaks out in the classroom, he ends up calling the police.

    Comic Books 
  • MANY Tandy Computer Whiz Kids comics contained anti-drug messages.
  • Wolverine has this trope applied to him a few times:
  • 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 and 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.)
  • Two examples featuring Green Arrow's former sidekick Speedy (now Arsenal):
    • 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.
  • Preacher's resident happy-go-lucky vampire Cassidy mentions early on a problem with heroin in his past, but it's slowly revealed just how bad his addiction was, in which during he hit his girlfriend and performed oral sex on a drug dealer for a fix.
  • 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 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-drug message — but the problem is, he is so high on amphetamine sulphate that he can't get the words right... This is also quoting the Canned Heat song Amphetamine Annie, where the repeated chorus line is simply 'Speed kills!
    Fat Freddy: Kids! Peed Skills! er... Seed Pilks! er.. Kleed Spills!"
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics), 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?
  • The Product Placement series published by Marvel comics, NFL Superpro, had a Starter Villain that was a football player mutated into rampaging muscular giant by experimental steroids a company illicitly tested on corruptible players. He was defeated not by the hero, but by a heart attack induced by the change.
  • Ice Cream Man has done several issues that show how drugs can damage and destroy people's lives, with even the Big Bad noting that he's never understood the appeal of such things. (Though he'll still happily use drugs to spread suffering and misery when it suits him.)
  • Strontium Dog had some material along this line, showing the deleterious effects of drugs on the outcast and marginalized British mutants in much the same vein as Trainspotting. Then there's Granny MacNulty, who is very insistent that young Archie stick to whisky.
  • The X-Men comics have "mutant growth hormone," essentially mutant steroids that can boost your powers at the expense of driving you berserk (which is, obviously, a bad combination).

    Fan Works 
  • The Bolt Chronicles:
    • In “The Survivor,” Mittens’s first owner Jack has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and his abuse of alcohol and drugs intensifies his worst tendencies.
    • Mary, a beagle who is Bolt’s first girlfriend, tries to dry out after being adopted from the pound by a farm family but can’t shake her addictions in “The Wind.” She’s very indiscriminate regarding what she’ll ingest to get high.
  • Empath: The Luckiest Smurf:
    • In the 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, as Hefty and Brainy go around throughout the story as police officers that bust Smurfs for even having a smurfnip joint in their possession.
    • In "The High Cost Of Smurfing", Vanity is seen doing pixie dust (an analog to cocaine) and collapses on the floor in near-death, inspiring Empath to find out who and where Vanity is getting the drug from. There's a brief section at the beginning where Snappy Smurfling eats glowberries (which in The Smurfs (1981) episode "St. Smurf And The Dragon" helps create Papa Smurf's spell of invisibility over the village) which gives him hallucinations but also gives him a sour stomach and "smurfarrhea". Vanity recovers and learns his lesson, but Snappy, being the Smurfling that he is, goes and sniffs the pollen from a dumdum flower, which makes him both high and stupid.
    • In "The New Shop In The Village", Empath has a dream that the entire village has succumbed to the lure of doing all sorts of drugs because he has legalized smurfnip in it as its current leader, which occurred after a new strain of smurfnip that gets Smurfs high but does not produce hallucinations has been developed. The whole village becomes full of Smurfs that look like "the walking dead".
  • 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 Portal 2 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.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog fanfic Prison Island Break features this prominently. 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've Shown Their Work. 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.
  • 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 Sword Art Online Abridged, the game's tutorial NPC spouts this message along with other nuggets of "wisdom."
    Charlie: Remember, Winners Don't Use Drugs! Except steroids. In which case, use lots of drugs!
  • In the Heat Guy J Yaoi fanfic In a Different Light, both Daisuke and Clair have problems in their lives caused by drugs. Daisuke got hooked on a Fantastic Drug known as "Black Tab" note  at the age of 13, and ended up becoming a victim of sex trafficking as a result. Meanwhile, Clair turned to drugs as a way of coping with the pain of being abused (and also trafficked) by his father, and has, on more than one occasion, nearly died from them. And while they aren't the reason for his (Canon) mental health issues, they sure aren't helping him in any way here.
  • In the Shining and Sweet chapter "Dragged Into Drugs", Katrina spots some kids at her school smuggling cocaine. Her parents are both upset when she tells them this; her stepfather reminds her that drugs are bad, while her biological father is concerned about how some high school students could even get their hands on such a drug, citing that in his youth, it was difficult for kids to even smuggle cigarettes. Katrina meets with the guidance counselor and school nurse to tell them what she saw, and they take it from there, leaving the fates of the three coke-using students ambiguous.

    Film — Animated 
  • The Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie song "A Message from the Lord" contains the line: "Don't do drugs, stay in school!"
  • In Turning Red, Ming holds this view.
    Ming: This is what happens when you don't wear sunblock and do drugs all day!

    Film — Live-Action 
  • 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.
  • Cocaine Bear: The film makes a point of this, starting by quoting Wikipedia on the non-violent nature of bears, before showing the titular bear attack a pair of European hikers. From there, it makes it clear that the predator’s violent behavior is driven purely by coke, even showing anti-drug PSAs of the eighties to make its point.
  • 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.
  • In The Godfather Don Vito Corleone initially turns down a narcotics dealer who wants his support. His stated reason is that his friends in politics would withdraw their assistance if he were to get in the drug business, though it's implied he finds the idea distasteful too. His refusal kind of starts a war. 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.
  • 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.
  • Judy (2019): Substance abuse is part of what ruins a young Judy Garland's life, and she has trouble maintaining performance quality in adulthood because of them.
  • In Parking (1985), Orpheus gets into a violent argument with Eurydice when he discovers she's been using again, and she later dies of an overdose.
  • 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 not wanna have sex, is it?
    Sam: It makes sex even better!
    Dewey: Sounds kind of expensive.
    Sam: It's the cheapest drug there is. You don't want none of this!
    Dewey: I kinda think I do.
  • 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.
  • Many of the "educational" films Sid Davis made throughout the '50s, '60s and early '70s.
  • LSD: Insight or Insanity is another, made in 1967 by Max Miller and with Sal Mineo narrating. Yes, you'll be tempted to take acid to keep up with the crowd or for self-expression, but of course all LSD users end up jumping off a cliff or walking into traffic to "merge with the automobiles." At the end LSD is shown to be pharmaceutical Russian Roulette. This used to be shown on local television on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. You can now see it on Youtube.
  • 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 & Kumar Go to White Castle with the "Marijuana Kills" commercial.
  • Requiem for a Dream is Drugs Are Bad: The Movie!
  • In Pulp Fiction, heroin proves to be the undoing of John Travolta's character, who's so strung out all the time that he's totally incompetent as a hitman. Mia also OD's on his heroin, which she thinks is cocaine, while under his guard and nearly dies.
  • Subverted in Love Actually.
    Billy Mack: Oh... Hiya kids. Here's an important message from your Uncle Bill. Don't buy drugs. ...Become a rock star, and they give you them for free!
  • This just might be the moral of the movie Drugstore Cowboy. The original book, on the other hand, takes a more neutral position.
  • This trope is what drives the plot of The Professional. Not only does Leon take out a drug gang in the film's Cold Open but the antagonists are corrupt DEA agents and cops who killed Mathilda Lando's family after her abusive father didn't return the drugs to them because they were only 90% pure.
  • ABCs of Death 2: Played for Laughs in "M is for Masticate". The man's cannibalistic rampage started because he snorted bath salts 37 minutes earlier.
  • In Bachelor Party, the Sexual Mule ends up doing drugs at the party and then keels over and dies. The party hosts deposit the mule's dead body into an elevator car, where it is discovered by the hotel's manager as well as Rick's fiancee and her friends.
  • Banshee Chapter: Taking psychoactive drugs will result in being possessed by an Eldritch Abomination.
  • James Bond allies himself with criminal organisations to defeat the Big Bad in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, For Your Eyes Only and Octopussy, and on each occasion it's stressed that while they're smugglers they have nothing to do with drugs. Unfortunately in OHMSS the organisation is the Unione Corse, who ran The French Connection to smuggle heroin into the United States.
  • Killer Nun: Sister Gertrude, fearing that her health may be in decline following the removal of a brain tumor, begins stealing painkillers from the hospital where she works and soon becomes addicted, which does wonders for her mental state.

  • In Dragon Bones, the protagonist's mother is The Ophelia, and her mental absence is at least in part caused by herbal drugs. They might have some medical value, but she clearly and obviously overdoes it, using them to flee the horrible reality she lives in. After her abusive husband, the most obvious cause of her wish to escape reality, dies, she is not able to stop her drug abuse. She dies eventually, but her soul does so before her body. At one point, Ward notices that he can't find her with his magical ability, even though her body is there.
  • 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 some troll drugs have a tendency to make the heads of their users literally explode. But rather than attacking the kids who take it, he's more into getting the dealers...
    Detritus: ...Mr Vimes is lettin' me run a... pub-lic a-ware-ness campaign tellin' people what happens to buggers what sells it to kids...
    [he waves a hand at a large and rather crudely done poster on the wall; it says: "Slab: Jus' say 'Aarrghaarrghpleeassennonono UGH'"]
    • He also nailed a dealer (selling to troll kids) to a wall. By his ears.
  • 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.
  • 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 to 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 (including alcohol) in their hooves.
  • Jack Ryan:
    • Invoked in Debt of Honor, where drugs are involved in the coverup of Kimberly Norton's murder.
    • 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 what's 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 (though it only contains a strong-smelling liquid for a dog to track).
    • Watson is sent to rescue a man from an Opium Den, presented as a Wretched Hive. To his surprise, Holmes is there in disguise, and reassures Watson that he hasn't added opium to his vices.
    • Nicholas Meyer covered this territory in The Seven-Per-Cent 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 warmweed 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.
  • In Doctor Dog, the teenage boy smokes and then gets a cough and is taught smoking is bad. The grandfather also gets drunk. The only symptom of said drunkenness is gas, but that's treated as bad anyway.
  • It is possible to gain this impression from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Duke and Gonzo smoke snort and swallow everything that they can get their hands on, but they don't have much fun. Duke's hallucinations are frightening and disorienting and Gonzo keeps on lashing out with knives, but do they learn A Lesson? No, they carry on regardless.
  • In Zeroes, Mob's father is a drug dealer, and some of her sections include graphic descriptions of her seeing the progressively worse effect of his products on his addicted customers while growing up.
  • James Leo Herlihy's The Season of the Witch has both Drugs Are Good (the protagonist and her friends, taking marijuana, hash, and LSD) and Drugs Are Bad (the beautiful, doomed Archie Fiesta, taking meth, heroin, and God knows what).
  • H. P. Lovecraft took time out from his usual horror oeuvre to pen the short-short story "Old Bugs", which gently parodies heavy-handed anti-drinking screeds.
  • Comes up twice in Alien in a Small Town. The crisis that led to Indira's nervous breakdown happened when she was very drunk, and Amos kills Jawaharlal while tripping on a hallucinogen.
  • Pretty much how it's depicted in the Left Behind series, the few times it appears. The Middle Eastern former black marketeer Albie sees that his whole hometown of Al Basrah has been given over to drugs in the Tribulation period. During the Millennial Kingdom, The Other Light seduces young people who were below the age of 100 to wild parties where hashish is used to sway them to joining their side against God. In the latter instance, Kenny Bruce Williams comments that the Other Light would end up being too wasted to put up any sort of fight against God at the end of the Millennium.
  • In Edgar Allan Poe's short story The Cask of Amontillado, Fortunato is already drunk at Carnival before he is lured to his doom by the prospect of taste-testing a cask of valuable wine. As he and Montresor walk deeper into the catacombs (used doubly as a wine-cellar), Fortunato is given more and more to drink, slowing his reactions to the revenge awaiting him.
  • Another Victorian Gothic take on this was Marie Corelli's Wormwood, about the dangers of absinthe. Gaston's girl throws him over and his dissolute Starving Artist friend André recommends absinthe as a cordial that helps with depression. After his first glass he is irredeemably hooked and he spends the rest of the book lurching from one horrific situation to another. Summary here.
  • In Brave New World, a drug called soma is distributed by the govenment and used by everyone, to keep them too happy and sedated to think or complain about the civilization they live in.
  • Ray Marais' energetic short story "Captain Stoopendous" (Golden Magazine for Boys and Girls, April 1969) is more like Untested Drugs Are Bad. A mild-mannered clerk is chosen by the famous scientist/scholar Fu Ah Chu (not to be confused with Fu Manchu) to test a drug he's just devised that confers superpowers for twelve hours. He warns the clerk that the drug is very new, has never been tested, and may have side effects. Sure enough, our hero becomes imbued with Superman-like powers, but loses parts of his memory. He wants to be "Captain Stupendous", but can't remember that name and says "Captain Suspenders," later "Catsnip Subfieldmouse" and "Carsnatcher Benders." He manages to save the day anyhow and is relieved to recover his memory as the capsule wears off. This may have been intended as part one of a series.

  • One of the very first examples of this was "Kicks", a song written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil that became a major hit for Paul Revere and the Raiders in 1966. The chorus:
    Kicks just keep gettin' harder to find
    And all your kicks ain't bringin' you peace of mind
    Before you find out it's too late
    Girl, you better get straight
  • Canned Heat's first album from 1967 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.
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers have done this a lot, from their album Californication onward (with singles such as "Scar Tissue" and "Otherside").
    • Unfortunately, their commitment to speak against drug abuse has led fans to believe that certain songs that are not about drugs do reference certain stimulants (the obvious ones being "Snow (Hey Oh)" and "Charlie", both of which are slang terms for cocaine). The band has tried to dispel these rumors by even releasing a series of videos where they described the meanings behind most of the songs on Stadium Arcadium, but these falsities continue.
    • "Under the Bridge", recorded eight years before Californication, also has anti-drug themes.
  • 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 Awesome Music 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 such as 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. Rather similar to Friedrich Nietzsche's belief that traditional values and mind-altering substances were both equally detrimental to an aspiring Übermensch.
  • "That Smell" by Lynyrd Skynyrd is a cautionary song about how dangerous drugs are, with lyrics such as "The smell of death surrounds you" and "Tomorrow might not be there for you". At the time the song was penned, the band was dealing with myriad drug problems, with the impetus for the song coming from an incident where Gary Rossington, one of the band's guitarists, narrowly survived a car crash while drunk and high; Ronnie Van Zant wrote the song as a warning of the dire consequences of their continued drug abuse. Also from the same band, "The Needle and the Spoon" is about how using heroin will kill you.
  • 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.
    • 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:
  • 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:
    • "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. note 
  • 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 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 changes to "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 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. (The heroin was for pain management due to severe arthritis. Whitten wanted to quit, and his doctor prescribed valium for the pain instead.)
  • Queensr˙che's concept album Operation: Mindcrime's protagonist Nikki is a heroin addict and the Big Bad Dr. X uses his addiction to control him. Nikki directly confronts how the drug has completely fucked him up on "The Needle".
  • The David Bowie-led Hard Rock group Tin Machine had a song on this subject with "Crack City" in 1989. (Bowie himself had some personal experience with this during his cocaine-induced Creator Breakdown, an experience he reflected on in the Reality Subtext of "Ashes to Ashes" from his album Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps).)
  • 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 song says the same of cocaine and moonshine whisky, with appropriate changes in the verb [" I don't [audible sniff]/drink it no more..."
  • Lou Reed:
    • The whole of the 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 Says II":
      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" from ''Transformer, 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:
    • The second album, Dirt is a genuinely chilling example of this trope, with many of the lyrics being written by singer Layne Staley about his own heroin addiction, which eventually killed him.
    • Their first album also contains the song "Real Thing" and the third self titled album has "Sludge Factory," among many others.
  • Xorcist's "Crack" opens with a sample of a crack user flatlining and having a near-death experience, taken from a 1980's anti-drug commercial, 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." Said to be a Take That! to their then-lead guitarist Ace Frehley.
  • "The Pusher" by Steppenwolf, once banned by Moral Guardians for being too pro-drug, is actually one of the most anti-drug songs ever recorded, right up there with...
  • "Hand of Doom" by Black Sabbath, an anti-heroin song.
  • Run–D.M.C.: Roots, Rap, Reggae from King of Rock.
    Don't drink alcohol, don't snort cocaine
    Reggae music is not so strange
    Know the cocaine will hurt up your brain
  • Down's second album II: A Bustle In Your Hedgerow has many about lead singer's battle with heroin and opiate addiction, including Learn From This Mistake and Ghosts Along The Mississippi.
  • Similarly, Phil's more famous band, Pantera has several, especially on The Great Southern Trendkill, written in the midst of Phil's growing problem. Suicide Note Pt. 1 and Live Through Me (Hell's Wrath) are chilling examples.
  • Rancid has a few from their earlier albums, as several members had had bad experiences with heroin and also witnessed the drug kill many of their friends. Rats in the Hallway and Brad Logan being prime examples. The song The Bottle also recounts Tim Armstrong's battle with alcoholism.
  • Life of Agony frontwoman Mina Caputo witnessed her father destroy his life and eventually die from heroin use. Let's Pretend and Heroin Dreams reflect this.
  • Frank Zappa's Cocaine Decisions from The Man From Utopia, an attack on coke sniffing yuppies.
  • The Death From Above 1979 song Dead Womb is a song against cocaine, specifically pregnant women abusing the drug.
    So many girls I know poison their wombs for sure
    I'm sick of all these girls poisoning their...
    We're looking for wives, so tired of sluts coming to us in the clubs with their cocaine
    We're looking for wives, so tired of sluts coming to us in the clubs with their cocaine
    I know you think you have it all but you will never even
  • "Heroïne" from 4US (Album)'' by Doe Maar is an anti-heroin song, directly inspired by their drummer who was addicted to the stuff. It took him more than 30 years to kick off the habit. As recently as 2014 he released his autobiography detailing his addictions and even mentioning he didn't even get the song was about him at the time.
  • The Grateful Dead, of all bands, have an example of this trope. Casey Jones crashes the locomotive because he is high on cocaine. There's also a rueful reference to "living on reds, Vitamin C, and cocaine" in "Truckin'".
  • The Missy Elliott album Miss E...So Addictive has the underlying message of getting high on music rather than drugs.
  • George Michael's song "Monkey" from the Faith album is about drug abuse, according to George's official website.
    Why can't you do it?
    Why can't you set your monkey free?
    Always giving in to it
    Do you love the monkey or do you love me?
  • "Cocaine", written and originally recorded by J. J. Cale but better known as an Eric Clapton song, is anti-cocaine. Even so, Clapton refused to sing it for decades after he cleaned himself up from his own cocaine addiction.
  • "White Horse" by Laid Back is anti-heroin.
  • "High Hopes" by Sammy Hagar is about a man who failed to amount to anything because of his marijuana abuse. He kept making fantastic plans but was unable to ever carry any of them out because he kept getting stoned.
  • Primus's "Lacquer Head" is about the horrors of huffing household chemicals.
  • At the end of "Once You Understand" by Bobby Susser's studio group Think, a father named Mr. Kirk learns from the police that his seventeen-year-old son Robert died of an overdose. This dialogue was Sampled Up in 4hero's "Mr. Kirk's Nightmare" and a few other '90s techno songs.
  • German comedian Frank Zander has the "Nick Nack Man", a rather black song for him. Selfsame man (Old Nick?) applauds when you take drugs. (Or start a nuclear war.)
  • "Heroin (It's All Over)" by the Lurkers. (Probably.)
  • In the Hungarian song "Horváthék fia" ("The Horváths' son") by Tamás Pajor (music by György Szentkirályi), the title character has died because of drugs. Part of the refrain says "The tabloids pick up the news for a day, but the paper is in the trash can the next day." The song is also sung by the children’s choir Twist Olivér Kórus – Rockgyerekek.
  • In the Hungarian song "Túladagolás" ("Overdose") by 4F-Club, someone starts taking drugs at sixteen, causes a fatal car accident while on drugs, then fatally overdoses—all shown in the music video.
  • Michael Jackson's "Morphine" from his remix album Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix is a song about addiction to painkillers, complete with a moment where the Industrial Metal drums suddenly cut off and are replaced with an orchestra, Not only was this extremely poignant for Michael to address this while being addicted to it himself, it got even more notability after his death in 2009, more or less from the same cause.
  • The Rolling Stones' "Mother's Little Helper", which is about a housewife abusing prescription drugs (presumably meprobamate (Miltown) or diazepam (Valium)) to deal with her everyday life, eventually leading to a fatal overdose.
  • British Sea Power: One might guess that the frenetic “K Hole” isn’t entirely in favour of recreational ketamine use.
    I think I took a little too much
    We may be in some trouble...
  • "Better Things to Do" by Judy Pancoast is about how drugs are bad because there are better ways to entertain yourself.
  • "The Future" by Prince from Batman (1989) features this:
    Yellow Smiley offers me X
    Like he's drinking 7Up
    I would rather drink 6 razor blades
    Razor blades from a paper cup
  • Billie Eilish's "xanny" is about going to a party of teenage friends and deciding not to take drugs there. Interestingly for this kind of aesop, she doesn't so much condemn drugs directly as much as find herself alienated and worried from watching her friends get intoxicated, and that alone tells her she doesn't need to experience it for herself.
  • Demi Lovato nearly died from substance abuse, and they put that experience into their song "Dancing With The Devil".
  • "Angel Dust" by Gil Scott Heron is anti-PCP.
  • Indio Solari has "Chau Mohicano", from Pajaritos, Bravos Muchachitos, about a guy who decides to quit the consumption of drugs, with the song detailing the process, the consequences and the side effects of the decision.
  • During the mid-to-late 80s, when the crack epidemic was underway, this was a very common topic for hip-hop songs. This list has nearly 200 examples of this over a ten-year period.


    Pro 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.
  • In Ring of Honor, CM Punk came off as correct sometimes, thanks to the existence of Special K, a stable of burnouts who blew their money and college opportunities and so turned to professional wrestling. They respected nothing and aimed to turn as much of the ROH roster as they could into drug addicts, apparently having already gone through Jersey All Pro Wrestling. The group became "Lacey's Angels" following a hostile takeover, Cheech and Cloudy would eventually go on to become baby face Tag Team "Up In Smoke" though.
  • During the International Wrestling Association's invasion of WWC, IWA co-owner Savio Vega taunted WWC Heir Carlito Caribbean Cool with a medicine bottle, saying he'd always see Carlito as a tecato for refusing rehab in WWE, in a bid to get WWC to return to favor and invade the IWA shows, boosting interest in the IWA Summer Attitude show.
  • In CZW, the usual spokesmen are The body the bomb and the god, health guru Pepper Parks, proper lady Cherry Bomb and Greek supremacist Dimitrios Papadon. Matt Tremont also had a feud with The Nation Of Intoxication, who he accused of being too busy getting high to help him in his time of need.

    Puppet Shows 

  • 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. In fact, Revelation 22:15 in the Common English Bible translation reads: "Outside are the dogs, the drug users and spell-casters, those who commit sexual immorality, the murderers, the idolaters, and all who love and practice deception." Peter the apostle in his first epistle warns believers to "be sober and vigilant, because your adversary the Devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking out whomever to devour." (1st Peter 5:8)

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Pretty much anything that appears in The Book of Vile Darkness (which includes rules for torture, execution, and rules that make "Sadistic" a trait that a character can benefit from) is depicted as 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) are included in this book.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & Other Strangeness: The 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: The 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.
  • In Nomine: This is a view that Fleurity, the Demon Prince of Drugs, has worked very hard and very diligently to spread. In addition to the lure of the forbidden apple effect, his ideal situation is one in which people believe mind-altering substances to be evil and polluting and then use them anyway, thus staining their souls in a way that they wouldn't if no such moral value was present.
  • Psionics: The Next Stage in Human Evolution is generally favorable towards drugs, but they occasionally play this straight. Becoming addicted to a drug or overdosing has nasty (and potentially fatal) side effects.
    • Certain drugs unlock psypotential, but they pose a risk of overloading or killing the user.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Recreational drugs are almost entirely the domain of Slaanesh, the Chaos god of hedonism and excess, so indulging in them is less the domain of law enforcement and more the Inquisition. Combat drugs, on the other hand, are used in industrial quantities by gladiators, penal legions and the Dark Eldar.

    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 Non-Standard 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- though it's also heavily implied that the terrorists [ust 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.
  • StarCraft:
    • Averted, as 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.
    • Other sources (novels, backstories...) mention characters with stimpack addictions.
    • Nova Covert Ops finally gives stimpacks that actually heal damage when the unit uses them in addition to the combat boosts. Drugs are awesome, kids!
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Throughout the series, Moon Sugar and its derivative, Skooma, are treated this way. Users are depicted similarly to real-world drug addicts, with them being desperate for the drug to the point where it ruins their lives and are willing to resort to crime to get it. Additionally, any organizations that traffic or deal the drugs are considered to be scum.
    • However, it is Inverted in the hands of the player as illegal drugs are very useful for Alchemy.
    • To the Khajiit, Moon Sugar is a borderline sacred substance. Those who control the Moon Sugar essentially control Khajiiti society. In fact, in Morrowind, the only merchants who will buy Moon Sugar and Skooma from you are Khajiits. This mirrors how many real life drugs, such as mescaline, are considered sacred by some cultures.
    • In Skyrim, Skooma has no negative effects on the Player Character whatsoever. This is despite meeting a pathetic addict of it in one of the Khajiit caravans. Potentially justified, since the Player Character is genetically different from ordinary people in this game.
  • 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."
  • Grand Theft Auto
    • This is the core aesop of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, without coming off as Anvilicious. The Grove Street Families protagonists hate hard drugs (marijuana doesn't seem to be included) with a passion, mostly because a drug dealer killed their mother, and drugs turned many of their allies into enemies and rendered the rest apathetic. Sweet almost succumbing to the siren's call of a crack pipe is treated as his Despair Event Horizon, and the final mission involves CJ storming his way through a massive drug factory. However, it doesn't stop Moral Guardians and Shallow Parodies based on from believing that one of the main objectives of the game is to sell crack and the such. It's reinforced by "adrenaline pills" common in Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City being totally absent from San Andreas.
    • 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 so paranoid that Jacob fears the day Badman will turn on him, and in another conversation he says that he's trying to quit. 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. Later, in the sequel, Johnny himself is shown to have become addicted to meth, which has turned him into a shell of his former self.
      • In Grand Theft Auto V, Franklin's personal drug of choice is marijuana, and he can even buy a medical weed store. However, he constantly gives his old friend Tanya shit because she and her boyfriend are too busy smoking crack to work, and Franklin's mother was an addict who died when he was younger. 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, with Franklin's self-dialogue being particularly vicious at lashing out at himself. 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. And that's without getting to Trevor Phillips, a meth and gasoline fume addict who makes a living producing and selling crystal. He's a complete psychopath prone to violence from the slightest transgression, and while he has his moments of brilliance here and there, his short-sightedness gets him in major trouble several times throughout the plot.
  • The Fallout Series has a major case of Gameplay and Story Segregation, in that while to NPCs chems are a terrible scourge that can utterly destroy people's lives, in the player's hands they grant powerful stat bonuses, and though they do carry the risk of addiction, this addiction has been easily curable since Fallout 3.
    • Fallout 2 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 many 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 (a 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 evilest group, the Fiends, are like this because most are so drugged up (the rest are just plain crazy and on drugs). However, the second most evil, Caesar's Legion, is very anti-drug (including for medicinal purposes; even their health-restoring items are completely herbal-based and non-intoxicating).
      • Also, during one side-quest you are to help two people get over their addiction so they can help Freeside. Along with that, the Followers of the Apocalypse, 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 Call Girl 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.
    • Very much present in the environmental storytelling around New Vegas's poorer neighborhoods. Freeside in particular is full of drunks and chem addicts wandering the streets. Many are either dying in gutters or will try to stab you and take your stuff.
      • In the Old World Blues DLC, the Think Tanks are all severely addicted to Mentats, a drug that boosts intellectual capability. 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 in his own spare time. The amazing thing is that as Brains In Jars they're still capable of taking drugs. note 
    • Fallout 4 continues the tradition- you can still shoot up all sorts of different chems for buffs (and it's extremely easy to make yourself immune to addiction), and one of the NPCs you recruit can be given drugs that will giver her psychic visions that will help you. However, if you don't convince her to stop, it eventually will kill her (or rather, there's a drug that will kill her if you give it to her) and almost all of your allies disapprove of giving her drugs. There's also a party member who will eventually reveal that they're suffering from a severe Psycho addiction, to the point that they've started vomiting blood and they know that they've only got a short time left unless you help them get cured. Another recruitable ally is an unabashed addict who ended up turning into a ghoul after taking a hit of an experimental radioactive drug and can end up dying from an overdose of Med-X (the aforementioned renamed version of morphine) if you max out his Relationship Values.
  • 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 Wally Bear and the NO! Gang is based entirely around this.
  • 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 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 that 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.
  • The shareware episode of Crystal Caves has a sign reading "Winners Don't Do Drugs" on the overworld map.
  • Parodied with a Space Whale Aesop in one of Zaeed Massani's anecdotes in Mass Effect 2.
    "You smoke, Shepard? Don't. That stuff'll kill you. Knew a kid once, half your age. Smoked too close to a cache of explosives. Tossed a butt, blew himself sky-high."
    • Played straight elsewhere. Criminal groups like the Eclipse are heavily involved in the trade of fantastical drugs like "red sand", and both the effects of these drugs and the revenue they gross for said groups are portrayed extremely negatively.
    • Sloane Kelly in Mass Effect: Andromeda is a gang leader who stole a doctor's new medicinal drug (implied to be some kind of opioid), started re-cutting and mass-producing it for recreational distribution, and became the drug kingpin of Kadara. You run across many addicts and OD'd corpses in the port and out in the badlands.
  • Referenced and mocked with Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, where the phrase is name-checked as part of the game's general Retraux 1980's vibe. Rex even implies that if he tries drugs just oncenote , he will somehow disgrace America.
  • Below the Root, the early full-color scroller video game based on Zilpha Keatley Snyder's Green-Sky Trilogy, includes Wissenberries, with the same effect as in the books: you'll lose time on the clock, and if you're an Erdling you'll temporarily lose your Spirit-skills. Keep some around, though. You'll find Berry-dreamers where you least expect them, and they'll help you out in exchange for a fix.
  • Played with in Destroy All Humans! 2, a side quest has Crypto, disguised as a female hippie, talking to, and becoming exasperated with, The Freak because his junkie brain can't keep up with the conversation.
    Crypto: [looking at the camera] You see kids, this is why you don't do drugs.
  • Mother Russia Bleeds plays with this trope. On one hand, an experimental Psycho Serum called Nekro (modeled after a real-life Russian street drug called Krokodil) serves as both a buff and healing item throughout the game. On the other hand, the game does absolutely nothing to glamorize it; all of the playable characters who use it (who all started out getting kidnapped and used as test subjects for the drug) look grungy and worn-out, while other addicts can look like Technically Living Zombies. The Final Boss is also a manifestation of the characters' addiction that they have to fight off in a Battle in the Center of the Mind, and if you end up using even one Nekro syringe during the fight you get the bad ending where your character dies of an overdose.
  • While it isn't as prominent as the "green living" or "small community better than big business" themes, Stardew Valley has a dim view on drug use and addiction. Pam and Shane are alcoholics with terrible consequences for their home lives (and Shane's mental health), and Sebastian smokes what's implied to be marijuana. Pam never even tries to quit, Sebastian tries but doesn't succeed, and Shane, whose route is the most heavy-handed about alcohol ruining his life, relapses after marriage. That said, brewing wine from high-priced fruit is still one of the most profitable things to do on your farm.
  • We Happy Few is this trope: The Game. In an Alternate Universe where World War II went bad for England, the people of Wellington Wells did a Very Bad Thing, and are so consumed by guilt that eventually they decided that Happiness Is Mandatory and enforce it with a Fantastic Drug called Joy. Thing is, Side Effects Include... loss of short-term and long-term memory, illness, psychomania, homicidal tendencies towards those who aren't taking Joy, and much, much, more. However, because everyone in Wellington Wells is taking Joy, their society is on the brink of collapse because they're too high to run the city. When Arthur, the first player character starts to come down from his high, he realizes that his department is a dilapidated wreck with piles of undone paperwork, and as the game goes on it becomes apparent that there's a food shortage because local farms won't trade with the Wellies anymore. Wellington Wells became a Self-Inflicted Hell because the people running it would rather destroy themselves than face reality.
  • BioShock attempts to show this through the city of Rapture's use of ADAM, a genetic modification drug that can temporarily grant the user superpowers, but can become highly addictive and can also cause mental and physical deterioration with prolonged use. Most of the citizens in Rapture, by the time Jack first enters the city, have become ADAM-crazed Splicers.
  • In the rather aptly named arcade game Space Pirates, at the very end of the intro, there is a quick moment where the villain (of all characters) exclaims before gameplay, "Remember, winners don't do drugs!". And then a random skull explodes.
  • Raid 2020: The whole point of the game is stopping a drug plague, as evidenced by the intro, having to stop a bunch of drug dealers at the pier, and the tagline "Winners Fight Drugs". This was made in the eighties, after all.
  • LISA: In the wake of the apocalypse, the Fantastic Drug Joy, created by Mad Scientist Dr. Yado and distributed by the "Joy Boys" cult, becomes insanely popular across Olathe because it makes the user happy, stronger, and even heals in combat. However, it is also highly addictive, inflicting addicts with the withdrawal status effect, crippling them in combat, and causes the user to be ruled by their base desires. It also happens to turn the user into a Humanoid Abomination over time. Joy is the wedge that gets between Tragic Hero Brad Armstrong and every person he cares about, and ultimately leads to his downfall.
  • Disco Elysium combines this with Drugs Are Good for a purposefully ambiguous tone.
    • Your player character is an Addled Addict whose use of drugs, especially alcohol, has destroyed his body and brain. Alcohol-Induced Stupidity has also caused him to destroy his life and make all of his friends hate him. He's an enormous heart-attack risk due in part to his abuse of amphetamines, meaning that he can have a Critical Existence Failure from turning on a light while hungover or reading a sufficiently self-important Door Stopper book. Amphetamines give him chest pain, pyrholidon (a Fantastic Drug psychedelic) gives him incredible nausea and may be contributing to his delusions, and cigarettes have wrecked his lungs. He's also aged badly, going from the exceptionally charming and handsome 'rock star' cop he'd been in his mid-30s to a stinking, sickly-looking man who can can barely wear clothes and looks like he's pushing 60. He notes several times that he isn't going to live very long due to his destroyed liver and him pushing himself so hard, but the full medical prognosis is left ambiguous.
    • Alcohol and drug problems are almost everywhere else in Martinaise. The twelve-year-old Cuno is addicted to speed and beaten by his alcoholic father, the anonymous fishing village is full of drunks as there is nothing else to do there but drink, men die due to drunkenly slipping through rotting boardwalk and bashing their head or going out to sea when drunk, a taxidermist huffs taxidermy chemicals until he loses control of his bladder, hippies and artists abuse psychedelics until they can't sleep and their eyes turn yellow, and women get caught up in drunk, amphetamine-fuelled sex with abusive strangers. Possession is legal in Revachol, and the cops can't do much more than confiscate substances, because they're powerless to do anything to stop the social situation that is causing everyone to turn to drugs in the first place.
    • The Dockworker's Union is importing drug precursors to be sold on the black market in order to fund its strike against the Wild Pines Group. The majority of characters involved in the drug trade are sympathetic and the player may even politically sympathise with the plan to revolt against capital, but this situation is partially responsible for the chemical stupor that is ruining lives in Revachol. This is paralleled by how the Wild Pines's Private Military Contractors were previously involved in committing unspeakable racist war crimes on behalf of the commercial pharmaceutical industry, meaning both sides are powered by a society so broken it has no choice but to turn to drugs.
    • The game also satirises the conventional approach to this trope. If you repeatedly say anti-drug things, you get the option to become an "Opioid Receptor Antagonist", a moral-panicking anti-drug cop who is highly against "narcomania" (and all the drugs that you have been doing are to research how bad they are). Completing the thought nets you a thought that means you gain no positive stat effects from using speed or pyrholidon, but no negative stat effects from using alcohol (because that's not a drug, and therefore is safe and fine). Combine this with the Fascist political ideology, which allows you to get double the positive effects from drinking alcohol, for two reactionary tastes that react well together, if what you're trying to do is become a drunken, aggressive asshole.
  • The Xenoblade games take an interesting approach to this. In Xenoblade Chronicles 1, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, and Torna ~ The Golden Country, there are sidequests in each game where drug dealers are fermenting Red Pollen Orbs to turn into a highly addictive drug, and it's up to the player characters to put a stop to their drug peddling. The weird thing, though, is that Red Pollen Orbs, which can be considered the series' equivalent to opium, are collectible pickup items that can be used to enhance a party member's stats, which seems to convey the message that natural resources used to make drugs aren't bad on their own, but turning them into addictive drugs is where the problem actually lies.
  • Splatoon 2: A subtle variation in Salmon Run. Similarly to how most weapons are made of household appliances from the days of humanity, the four Grizzco weapons, which are illegal in Inkopolis due to how overpowered they are, are made with bottles of prescription drugs.

    Visual Novels 
  • 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 My God, What Have I Done?

    Web Animation 
  • 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 theme song. "Say no to drugs!" is sung while Rorschach is shown turning away from a dealer.
  • Lollipop by Re-animation is a delightful little cartoon about a boy who literally sold his body for a magical green lollipop. First he sold his right eye, them right arm, them left leg... At the end, all that's left of him is just one ear. His mother takes the ear home as a keepsake, but it escapes as soon as she turns away.
  • Coco Kiryu, of hololive, makes jokes about how potentially dangerous her "Asacoco" drugs. In one case, she showed how injecting Asacoco directly into your neck was a bad idea by playing a clip of Matsuri Natsuiro suddenly shouting "penis" repeatedly. An advertisement for "Stimulant-type Asacoco" also ends with the implication that Coco and her cohort Watame Tsunomaki were arrested for peddling Asacoco meth.

  • Enforced in The Comeback Path Of Princess From Mars. The terran emperor doesn't usually interfere with aristocratic politics, unless his own interests are directly threatened, but when he learns of the use of illegal drugs, he responds with extreme prejudice, emphasis on extreme, on the offender's house. In the first arc, all Olga has to do to avenge herself is agree to a duel with her abusive "boyfriend" Mofu Torrus Jr. to whom she was sold into an Arranged Marriage at the age of 8. He does the rest when he starts to lose said duel, in spite of his overwhelming advantage, and openly cheats by using an illegal performing enhancement drug. The very instance this comes to light, Mofu Torrus Sr., who loved to berate Olga's father as a "loser" for becoming a cowardly boot-licker to avoid imperial wrath learns what it means on the receiving end as the emperor is driving him into a penniless commoner, at sword point!
  • Parodied in a Welcome to Pixelton strip with a certain mushroom:
    Fil: You know you want to get real height!
    Kirby: I'm not trying nothing!
  • Cool Cat Studios, a discontinued strip created by T. Campbell and Giselle Lagace (the creators of Penny and Aggie) told a surprisingly less-Anvilicious story in which Bones (a female body-builder) considered taking steroids to bulk up. She ultimately chose not to because she was afraid of hitting her boyfriend in a fit of 'roid rage.
  • Drugs are painted in a negative light in Furry Fight Chronicles because of the consequences they provide to the users.
    • Cookie forces Muko to throw away her painkillers in Chapter 7 because she doesn't want Muko to get addicted to them. Chapter 18 reveals that her best Combagal had a painkiller addiction that Cookie ignored, leading to her retirement.
  • Subverted throughout The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal. The titular characters partake throughout the strip without any negative consequences.
  • Charmeleon's story in 151 Hidden Depths.
    Clefairy: And besides, look at what those drugs did to your HEALTH!
  • Parodied in The Non-Adventures of Wonderella: Wonderella discourages marijuana use cause that will just lead your dealer to push harder drugs on you to make a better profit... but beer and cigarettes are legal, so they're A-OK! (Also, marijuana is illegal because it leads to harder drugs because of the dealers, and you have to go to a dealer because it's illegal.)
  • Forestdale: One of the core aspects of Jake Noel's backstory tends to evoke an anti-drug message. The kid grew up with an abusive, drug addicted mom who went on to die from an overdose and left Jake an orphan. The fact that he ended up being so well adjusted after being placed into a much more functional and loving home is nothing short of a miracle.

    Web Original 
  • The 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.
  • Spoofed (or played straight? hard to tell) in this Flash Tub "PSA" from Something Awful.
  • 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.
  • What the Fuck Is Wrong with You?: 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 doing drugs, especially smoking, as if they are pounding it into your brain.
  • AlphaOmegaSin tells kids not to do drugs (and then sarcastically says that sounds convincing) at the end of his video talking about the Nintendo drug in the Netherlands.
  • The Nostalgia Critic: In his review of the top eleven drug PSAs, Nostalgia Critic both parodies this and plays this straight. At the beginning, he does calmly say that children shouldn't do drugs, since they can hurt you, get you in trouble, and damage your brain, and wonders why PSAs can't simply do that, rather than put on ads that are utterly stupid and ridiculous.
  • Organ Story, created by Splapp-me-do (who was also responsible for The Impossible Quiz), pretty much gives a summary, in Splapp's unique art style, of several of the ways in which one can harm their organs, but the most prominent message seems to be that smoking is bad for you, as it causes the main character to develop cancer and eventually die from it.
  • YouTube personality CgKid has a channel called Shameless Protocol, in which he as a recovering drug addict reaches out to people about his experiences with various types of drugs that he has done, hopefully to help people both steer clear of doing drugs and seek help in case they're caught in an addiction.
  • Drugs? No, thank you...



Video Example(s):


Golden Circle Proudly Presents

Drug lord Poppy Adams holds the world hostage by revealing that nearly half the population has taken her drugs and will experience painful and lethal symptoms unless her demands are met.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / VirusVictimSymptoms

Media sources: