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Getting High on Their Own Supply

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Mr. Tony Montana, snorting his sorrows away.

"To be a dopeman, boy you must qualify,
Don't get high off your own supply."
N.W.A., "Dopeman".

In the 1983 film Scarface, one of the movie's most memorable quotes was Elvira Hancock's advice to Tony Montana on selling drugs: "Don't get high on your own supply" — advice that Tony Montana famously ignored and ultimately paid the price for. In fiction and real life, drug dealers, be they high-level kingpins or low-level street hustlers, often fall into the trap of addiction by recreationally using their own product.

This reckless waste of their resources usually leads to:

  1. A rapidly shrinking drug supply because of their reckless use of it, leading to loss of profit due to not having enough drugs to sell.
  2. Loss of respect from other drug dealers/criminals, not to mention their personal associates.
  3. Sanity Slippage due to addiction and/or the drugs' effects, which can often lead to them making bad (and often fatal) calls of judgement.
  4. And finally death, either from a drug overdose or being killed by another dealer who was supplying them (as Tony was in the movie).

However, this trope isn't exclusive to just drug dealers. Heroes or villains who rely on using a Super Serum or Psycho Serum to get their powers can often get too attached to it, leading to similarly disastrous results. This is also often used as a way to deconstruct Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster!.

This trope has been quoted or alluded to by many Hip-Hop artists since the release of the 1983 movie.

A sub-trope to Hookers and Blow. Compare Addictive Magic. Contrast Straight Edge Evil. Not to be confused with Believing Their Own Lies, despite this trope sometimes being a metaphor for that one.



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    Comic Books 
  • In Daredevil, after the Kingpin is dethroned from his seat as the Kingpin, the first thing in the next issue is some low-level operator from his empire known as "Trainwreck Miller" trying at being an autonomous pusher, but getting an especially bad idea how to hide evidence.
    Under normal circumstance "Trainwreck Miller" — so called because of a tendency to leave the equivalent damage in his wake — might mean no more to me than a trip-hammering heartbeat staccato heavy footsteps on creaking-splintering stairs. "Normal" went out the window when the Kingpin abdicated his crime boss throne and left his freelance thugs to their own devices... providing the opportunity for enterprising lowlifes like Trainwreck to self-promote themselves from submissive couriers to aggressive salesmen. Of course, that white powder makes for incriminating evidence, a fact Trainwreck would just as soon avoid... by hiding the illicit goods inside himself.
    Trainwreck Miller: Try an' pin me when ya ain't got nothin' to stick, try that ya piece a'—! That'll show ya! That'll show all a'ya good—!
    We're not talking rocket scientist here.

    Fan Fic 
  • In the Worm fanfic The Warcrafter, this attracts Adrian's attention - how can the Merchants be a cohesive gang and a consistent source of drugs if the higher-ups keep getting wasted on their own supplies? Turns out Coil is manipulating Skidmark through a modified Magic 8-Ball.

  • Scarface (1983) is the Trope Namer. The name, as mentioned in the description, is taken from a line in the movie where Tony Montana is given advice from Elvira Hancock and Frank Lopez. Advice Tony would ignore, which would lead to Sanity Slippage and making a series of other Tragic Mistakes that would lead to his ultimate downfall.
    Frank: Lesson number one: Don't underestimate the OTHER guy's greed!
    Elvira: Lesson number two: Don't get high on your own supply.
  • In Requiem for a Dream, the drug plot involves Harry and Tyrone taking their own drugs to, at first, "know how it feels like" (yes, because they want to be real honest when peddling their stuff), and this eventually led to them using all of their product and thus leading to trouble with their supplier and Sanity Slippage.
  • New Jack City's Nino Brown is an interesting example, as the supply he's high on in the movie isn't his drugs, but his ridiculously huge ego, which eventually comes back to bite him at the end of the film.
  • District 13: Taha is often seen snorting his own cocaine in his private quarters. This makes him even more unhinged than a violent drug kingpin would already be, to the point where he'll often murder his subordinates before going back to getting off on his own supply. This also proves his downfall, since it makes him too crazy for his minions to ultimately put up with when he can't pay them anymore.
  • In 22 Jump Street, the Big Bad admonishes a couple of dealers for this at a meeting, invoking the trope by name. Their response is that they got high on each other's supply instead.
  • In Kingsman: The Golden Circle, Big Bad Poppy has a very strict policy against this, with unpleasant consequences for any members of the Golden Circle dumb enough to do so; too bad nobody warned Angel...
  • In RoboCop 2, Dr. Faxx hopes to control Cain through his addiction to Nuke, the drug he sold. Instead, the sight of a Nuke canister causes him to go berserk... but in the end it's used to distract him and allow for a killing blow. Hell, Hob was the only major member of Cain's gang who wasn't getting high on Nuke.
  • In Friday, Smokey literally burns through his inventory of pot, driving him dangerously into debt with his supplier.
    Craig: How are you gonna sell bud when you smoke it?
    Smokey: I dunno...that's my only problem!

  • In the Liaden Universe novel Conflict of Honors, the Big Bad is involved in a variety of shady dealings, including drug smuggling. He gets hooked on one of the drugs he's running, which affects his judgment and contributes to his downfall.
  • The Merchant gang in Worm are known for this. They're considered the scum of the earth even by Brockton Bay standards.

    Live-Action TV 
  • A lot of problems in Breaking Bad are caused by Jesse getting high, though not just on the meth he cooks personally. That said, other people in the business, like Walt and Gus, avert this trope.
  • In Jessica Jones (2015), Will Simpson gets hooked on some combat pills he is supplied and goes nuts (not helped by him not taking the "cooldown" pills), subsequently causing his Face–Heel Turn.
  • One episode of Flashpoint has a man trying to kill his brother's drug dealer by forcing him to snort his entire stock all at once, as retaliation for said brother's death by overdose. The SRU stops him and arrests the dealers along with him.
  • In The Wire, Avon Barksdale demands that the members of his drug syndicate keep themselves disciplined and drug-free so that they're sharper and better than their rivals. A few of his lieutenants are seen partying anyway, although they justify it as only being because of a special occasion.
    • One notable example within the Barksdale Organization is Bird, the hitman responsible for killing off the witness at D'Angelo's trial that they couldn't bribe, and later a participant in the torture and murder of Omar's boyfriend Brandon. When talking with the MCU, Omar informs them that Bird is not a smart soldier, as he uses the Barksdale product (in violation of Avon's rules) and uses the same gun from murder to murder. The MCU thus apprehend Bird as he's leaving one of the shooting galleries.
    • A lot of this discipline within the organization is lost when Avon goes to prison at the end of season 1, and by the time that he returns to the streets in the middle of season 3, some members are openly using. When Avon sees a couple of low-ranking members getting high in the middle of his homecoming party, he angrily has them thrown out.
  • In the second half of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia's Season 3 two-part episode "The Gang Gets Whacked", Dee and Charlie end up using most of the cocaine they were selling to pay off The Mafia, despite Dee lampshading the trope at the beginning of the episode.
    Dee: We talked about this. No getting high off the supply!
  • Narcos: Averted for the most part. The high-level drug traffickers of the cartels are nowhere near stupid enough to indulge in their own product.
    • This also gets a Lampshade Hanging in Narcos: Mexico by a couple of Gangbangers who just introduced crack cocaine to their Mexican partners. They've seen Scarface, but unlike Tony Montana himself, they actually take the lesson to heart.
    • Played straight with the members of the Prisco gang that aren't Ricardo, who are shown to party heavily with booze, hookers, and their own cocaine. This leads to the fatal mistake of one of them calling their associates on a satellite phone, giving away their location to Los Pepes and the cops.
    • Zigzagged with the Guadalajara Cartel's bosses. Miguel Angel is a teetotaler and consequently the most clearminded of the lot, Don Neto partakes in the odd line of coke but is otherwise a Functional Addict, but Rafa gets high so frequently that he becomes a liability to the organization with his erratic and stupid decisions.

  • N.W.A.'s "Dopeman" quoted the trope-naming line from Scarface as the golden rule to selling crack, seen in the page quote above.
  • The Notorious B.I.G. listed this trope as the Fourth Commandment on his list of "Ten Crack Commandments" as a double shout out to both Scarface and N.W.A.'s "Dopeman":
    Number four, I know you heard this before:
    "Never get high on your own supply."
  • British EDM band Apollo 440 released an album titled Gettin' High On Your Own Supply as a nod to Scarface.
  • Referenced in Fall Out Boy's "Wilson (Expensive Mistakes)":
    If we hadn't done this thing, I think I'd be a medicine man
    So I could get high on my own supply whenever I can

    Video Games 
  • Various characters in the Grand Theft Auto franchise have fell victim to this trope at one point or another:
    • In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas' final mission, Carl Johnson's former friend and ally Big Smoke, who was stated to have become a cocaine kingpin when CJ was forced out of Los Santos by corrupt cops following Smoke and Ryder's betrayal, is seen taking a hit of crack implied to have come from his own stash, before facing CJ in a final shootout.
    • In Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, Lance Vance gets addicted to the cocaine stash he shares with his brother Vic, along with Vic's girlfriend Louise. He initially blames his drug-addicted mother or biker gangs for taking the drugs, but Vic eventually finds out the truth and accuses Lance of sleeping with Louise along with using the drugs, which they both deny. By Vice City, he seems to have kicked his habit.
    • Trevor Philips Grand Theft Auto V, who is a meth-head that runs a drug-running business who likely has dipped into his own supply. Being one of the protagonists, this doesn't really affect him or his business negatively in any way besides possibly making him even crazier than he already was.
  • Manuel Delgado from Hitman: Blood Money is so addicted to his own product that he set aside a special room to snort coke in. One option Agent 47 has for killing him is to hide in said room and wait until Manuel bends over for a line to make it look like he overdosed.
  • Subverted in Scarface: The World Is Yours. Since the game's first mission starts during the last gunfight of the movie, Tony Montana is high off yeyo much like he was in the movie, but manages to kill The Skull, the guy who empties a shotgun in his back in the movie, and escapes when the cops arrive. Once Tony begins to build his empire again, he completely swears off cocaine for the rest of the game.
  • Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun: General Vega is a South American Nod warlord and druglord who deals in a Fantastic Drug known as "Eye Candy", of which he is clearly his own best customer. In the Nod campaign, he takes an alien ship from a secret Nod hangar for a joyride and crashes it. Another Nod general comments that even if he survives, they'll kill him anyway for his monumental fuck-up. In the GDI campaign, Vega chooses to kill himself with an overdose because GDI forces are storming his base and an angry Kane has both excommunicated him from the Brotherhood and ordered a nuclear missile strike on Vega's base to show his displeasure.
  • The Sons of Samedi in Saints Row 2 seem to hook themselves on Loa Dust; even the General's limo is filled with the smoke of it. The Boss agreed with Shaundi on keeping a few pounds for the weekends when they start producing it themselves.
  • A frequent hazard of smuggling sunlight into the Sunless Sea is the temptation to open a box and bathe in the light. For a lot of complicated reasons, sunlight is both incredibly wonderful to feel, and also kills anyone from the 'Neath that bathes in it too long. Most Londoners fear sunlight.
  • In one mission in Shadow Warrior 2, Lo Wang is asked to deal with a local Shade operation that is being run without Mamushi Heika's permission. When Lo Wang finally tracks down the one behind the operation, he learns that he has become a gigantic demon called a Talon as a result of using too much of his own Shade and has to be put down. As Wang is a Pop-Cultured Badass, he immediately references Biggie above, having to spell it out for Kamiko.
  • Max Payne: The first game features Valkyr, a highly addictive and dangerous drug with a Sickly Green Glow that has been circulating through New York's underworld for several years by the time the game takes place. Jack Lupino, one of the lieutenants in the Punchinello mob who traffics in the stuff, has gotten addicted to it and is using large amounts of it, which has driven him murderously insane. This is because Valkyr isn't a recreational drug at all, it's a Psycho Serum originally developed for military use that Nichole Horne, the Big Bad of the game, has been selling through her criminal contacts after the government pulled the plug.

    Western Animation 
  • The South Park episode "Medicinal Fried Chicken," which as a Shout-Out to Scarface, treats KFC food as a G-Rated Drug as fast food became illegal in low-income areas in Colorado at the same time that medicinal marijuana becomes legal. Cartman is hopelessly addicted to KFC and starts working as muscle for a dealer, then ends up taking over and orders more product from the Colonel than he can possibly sell to feed his addiction. This results in a shoot-out between his grade school gang, the Colonel's thugs, and the FBI.
  • On The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, Billy sells magical chocolates door to door, but he starts eating his own product and is soon hooked. Being magical chocolates, they eventually turn him into chocolate, at which point he starts eating himself. The dealer, a sailor made of chocolate, admits that this happens every time.
  • Spongebob Squarepants: In "Just One Bite", Spongebob finds out that Squidward has never eaten a Krabby Patty, and spends most of the episode trying to get him to try one. When Squidward finally relents, he claims it's horrible... only to lock himself in the Krabby Patty vault and start devouring them. Once he's out and an ambulance is called to take him to the hospital from explosive overeating, the driver wistfully says he remembers his first Krabby Patty too.


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