Follow TV Tropes


Mistaken for Junkie

Go To

A classical Not What It Looks Like scenario; Alice walks in Bob's room, sees Bob injecting something in his arm with a syringe. Assumptions are made and conclusions jumped to until Bob reveals that he's diabetic and was taking his insulin shot. May be played for drama or for comedy.

Pills and powders are also often mistaken for recreational drugs. Sometimes Mistaken for Junkie is used to criticize the Drugs Are Bad hysteria.

Unfortunately Truth in Television and some groups are almost guaranteed to have encounters with it: diabetics, as mentioned, (due to the need for insulin injections); transgender people (due to the need for hormone injections and the status of androgens/testosterone and some estrogens as controlled substances); nocturnals or those with sleep phase disorder or those with hyperthyroidism as users of illegal stimulants (due to different sleeping patterns, and in the latter two, behavior that sometimes resembles stimulant users). Anyone who frequently has to have IV injections or blood work done will almost always get this, especially if they were unlucky enough to have encountered someone doing the injection/blood work so improperly as to give them a track mark. Legitimate pain patients and those legitimately taking a lot of psychotropic medications for mental illnesses are also often assumed to be junkies because they're taking lots of pills/other medications, never mind that is to keep them alive and (somewhat) well.

See also Mistaken for Subculture. Contrast Playing Drunk, where a character deliberately misleads others to think this.


    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • Superman:
    • In Who Took the Super out of Superman?, Clark Kent has to drop his mild-mannered front during one week during which he romances Lois Lane openly, calls his boss out, fights back bullies, and takes absolutely no crap from anybody. When he quite abruptly resumes his extreme pushover act, Lois bluntly asks if he's been taking "funny pills".
    • In A Mind-Switch in Time, one cop sees one crowd gathering around a building and smiling maniacally and wonders if they have taken "happy pills".
    • The Phantom Zone: When Charlie Kweskill suddenly passes out on the floor, Perry White wonders whether his employee might have been drinking excessively, but Charlie's co-workers shoot the idea down.
    • In Supergirl (1984), Linda Lee, Jimmy Olsen and Lucy Lane see Ethan stumbling dizzily across the street. Unaware that the poor lad is feeling sick due to drinking one of Selena's potions, Jimmy guesses he is probably on drugs.

    Comic Strips 
  • In one Zits strip, Walt is suspicious when Jeremy starts burning incense in his room. Thinking it is to cover up the smell of pot smoke, he bursts in to discover Jeremy is using it to cover up the smell of him cooking waffles.

    Fan Works 
  • The Alphabet Story: When Elsa starts discussing narcotics in a metaphor Kyra asks her if she's been abusing them.
  • Control: While looking for Yukari at the Set Strip, Nyamo gets mistaken for an addict just for kicking a lamp pole. The man saw her out late at night and thought Nyamo was in withdrawal and was looking for a dealer.
  • Coping: Twilight is surprised that Applejack and Rainbow Dash smoke weed, but she's also surprised that the fun-loving partier Pinkie Pie does not. Pinkie's tried it in the past but she isn't fond of drugs.
  • In The Day After You Saved the Multiverse, Clark Kent has just returned from saving the Multiverse from Darkseid, but he cannot tell anybody he has gotten his namesake's comic-book character's powers, or he has been fighting supposedly fictional characters in another dimension. And he cannot explain to his girlfriend Laurie why he has been missing for one week, why it looks like he got in a fight, and why he is suddenly keeping secrets from her. So Laurie bluntly asks if his problem has something to do with drugs.
  • Gray Whirlpool Series: Ryoma assumes Corrin has become a drug addict in Nohr when she’s just trying to get medicine for Elise’s Terminal 7 disease.
  • In Alternate Universe Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew! Fic The Harmony Trap, one of the characters is a dog who used to be a policeman and has diabetes which he tried to keep secret. It's mentioned that Internal Affairs catching him with needles was the worst moment of his life, although he was easily able to prove that it wasn't what they thought it was.
  • In Kara of Rokyn, a detective wonders if Clark Kent -in other words, Superman- is doing drugs due to his strange habit of going to the restroom right before a newscast.
  • In Of Butterflies and Trees, a couple of stallions make fun of Tree Hugger and ask her where she keeps her weed. Despite her New-Age Retro Hippie persona and attitude, Tree Hugger actually doesn't use drugs, because she dislikes what they to do her.
  • Of Gemstones and Watches: When Roman Torchwick asks a random cop for directions to a Dust store, the cop thinks that he's talking about PCP.
  • One Punch: Buster, Francine, and The Brain begin to fear that Arthur's drastic change in behavior and his "after-school projects" might be him doing drugs. It's how they convince Muffy, Sue Ellen, Fern, and George to help them out with helping Arthur.
  • A Prize for Three Empires: When Carol Danvers confesses she has developed a drinking problem, her mother Marie states she hopes she hasn't been doing drugs, too. Carol vehemently denies it.
  • Played for Drama in The Rise of Darth Vulcan. As a result of Princess Luna including vampire bats in their genetic makeup, thestrals literally must drink blood to survive. But the rest of the ponies found this icky, so they made up some nonsense about the blood hunger being a mental disease, banned the drinking of blood, and forced the thestrals to use an alchemical substitute that keeps them all borderline starving. Needless to say, Luna was furious when she found out that Celestia had endorsed all this.
  • In Rivals Series when Viktor walks in on Yuuri taking anti-anxiety medication in a secluded area before his performance, he fills in the blanks of the suspicious circumstances and he concludes that Yuuri must be doping. Yakov makes the same assumption and reports Yuuri to the ISU, leading to the doping scandal.
  • In The Seven Misfortunes of Lady Fortune, Gabriel briefly suspects Adrien of using drugs due to his behavior and haggard appearance. In reality, he was afraid to sleep after what happened to his love and was spending all his time looking for her.
  • In Slayers fanfiction Slayers Trilogy, Amelia's reaction when Lina explains they've been given a quest by the Lord of Nightmares itself is shouting her friend is doing drugs. When Lina denies the accusation, Amelia replies that's exactly what a junkie would say.
  • In Jerusalem's Let's Play-slash-Novelization of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, CJ escapes police attention after drowning Scipio for OG Loc because one of the cops mistook his sleep-deprived and Stress Vomit-covered state for drug addiction.
  • In With Pearl and Ruby Glowing, Daffy found Billy Joe Cobra, who went missing years ago and was assumed to be dead, at Madame X's house and reported it, but the cops thought he was high because he's known for causing trouble and getting arrested. They only find out the truth because they go to investigate where Daffy "bought his drugs from".
  • Arcade first meets Alex Mercer in A Dead World when Alex is lying in a back alleyway, suffering from extreme radiation sickness. Since Freeside is full of junkies and Arcade is a doctor who has to treat them, he thinks Alex is on drugs at first.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Happens to the titular Bad Teacher's rival when she becomes determined to prove her (correct) suspicions that among other things, the woman is a drug abuser. To that end, she switches desks with the woman so as to search through the drawers (rather than just merely leaving it in the room to look through it there) and finds drug paraphernalia. Unfortunately, by now, the other woman is on to her and is able to sic the authorities on her. Between this discovery and her previous erratic behavior (which is also due to her efforts to prove what a wretch the other woman is), she is the one to get fired for drug use.
  • Subverted in the film Body of Evidence. The murder victim's secretary claims to have seen his girlfriend (and suspected killer) snorting cocaine. When her lawyer confronts her about this, she reveals that the white powder was an herbal medication for menstrual cramps. Later it turns out that she did, in fact, use cocaine and that what the secretary assumed was probably correct.
  • Con Air: In the midst of the explosive chaos at the desert airfield, Poe dives under a car only to find an old mechanic already hiding there. After assuring the old man that he means no harm, he asks for a syringe. The old man tells him he shouldn't be using, but Poe clarifies he needs a first aid kit.
  • In Dick Tracy vs. Cueball, a possibly concussed Pat Patton crashes his police car. The first cop on the scene starts questioning him, and Pat's confused and unhelpful answers lead to assume Pat is drunk and arrest him.
  • In Earth vs. the Spider, Stephanie sees a track mark on Quentin's arm and assumes he's been shooting up. He explains to her that he was accidentally injected with a serum that gives him spider powers.
  • Mia in Evil Dead was once a junkie, and her friends brought her to a cabin in the woods as part of an intervention. When she gets possessed by a demon, her friends initially write off the signs of her possession as a case of her going through withdrawal. It's only with her possession spreads to the rest of the group that they realize it has nothing to do with drugs.
  • In the Disney Channel film Go Figure, Shelby runs off after being berated after falling and messing up her routine. Caitlin follows her into the bathroom and sees a syringe fall under the stall, and she begins to lecture her on drugs. Shelby tells her that she's diabetic. And then they go get sugar-free frozen yogurt.
  • In Mad Money, two of the protagonists see the third's syringes fall out when she drops her purse. They give her a mini-lecture on drugs, but of course, it turns out she's simply diabetic. Except, in this case, she never tells them.
  • In Pretty Woman, when Richard Gere enters the bathroom and finds Julia Roberts apparently swallowing something, he thinks she's popping drugs, when in fact she's just flossing her teeth.
  • In the Marlon Waynes movie Senseless, Waynes' character is using an experimental drug to enhance his senses to superhuman levels (in order to both get the girl and win a coveted business internship). His roommate walks in on him after he's given himself an injection, sees the needle, and (based on this and Waynes' erratic behavior) assumes that he's gotten hooked on heroin. Eventually, Waynes' character explains what is really going on to his roommate, but it's not clear if he really believes him; during the big confession scene during the climax as Waynes reveals that he's been using a drug to get an advantage in the competition for the internship, the roommate interrupts him to announce that "It's NOT heroin!"
  • Terminator: Dark Fate: When Grace arrives in the present naked and really disoriented, some cops find her and assume she is on drugs. They try to arrest her, but she kicks their asses.
  • Transformers: A cop finds a bottle of pills with "Mojo" written on it and assumes it's a new street drug; it's actually pain medication for Sam's dog.

  • One of George Carlin's stand-up routines invokes a variation where the "mistake" isn't exactly sincere:
    If a policeman really wants to give you a hard time, he can hold you overnight while they check the vitamins. That's why I travel with Flintstone vitamins!

  • One of the The Babysitters Club books featured this, in which diabetic Stacey had trouble getting her insulin kit past security at a concert.
  • In the short story "Ballet Nègre" by Charles Birkin, a journalist investigates a secretive ballet company and its zombie-like lead dancers. He assumes that the dancers must be drug addicts — missing many obvious signs that they really are zombies, to his ultimately fatal detriment.
  • Bimbos of the Death Sun: When Dungannon first arrives at the con he demands "Smarties and Yorkies", which makes one of the con's staff worry that these are slang names for drugs. His Canadian fellow staffer explains that they're British candy.
  • The Blood Ladders: In An Heir to Thorns and Steel, Morgan's seizures get so bad that his doctor prescribes opium. But the first time he takes it he gets the dosage wrong and his friends see him stoned and assume his emaciated figure is a sign of long-term addiction since he tried to hide his illness from them. Eventually, they talk to his doctor, who shows him how to dilute it properly too.
  • Briefly done in Dan Brown's Digital Fortress, where David Becker mistakes a Damsel in Distress at the airport for a drug addict. As he tries to help her, he is in turn Mistaken for Pedophile, making this twofer.
  • Happens twice in Dunk, first in chapter 19 where the cops mistake Chad and Jason for one since Jason was acting weird, and again in chapter 34 where Anthony frames Chad for a dealer.
  • Curt from Fat Kid Rules the World is extremely skinny, doesn't wash his hair often, is referred to as "semi-homeless", and wears dirty, damaged clothing. He gets mistaken for a drug addict but he doesn't use drugs.
  • One of the subplots in The Help: Minny walks in on her boss, Celia, sitting on her bed with a dozen bottles of what appears to be homemade alcohol, and believes she's discovered that Celia is a closet alcoholic, which repulses her. When she finally confronts Celia about it, Celia tells her that it was actually a "tonic", a home brew she'd turned to in a desperate attempt to carry a pregnancy to term after a series of miscarriages.
  • In one scene in My Sister's Keeper, Sara notices needle marks on her teenage son's arms and her immediate thought (due in part to the fact that he's had some issues) is that he was shooting drugs — until he tells her that he's actually been donating platelets to help his sister, who is ill with leukemia. To her credit, she does feel bad for assuming the worst (noting that if it had been one of her daughters, even the one who doesn't have cancer, she would have worried that the marks were a sign of leukemia).
  • The Red Vixen Adventures: In Shadow of Doubt, Alinadar is seen injecting herself by a maid, whom she threatens to not tell. She used to be a Child Soldier and her "owner" got her addicted to combat stimulants, she's currently taking a prescription agonist to mitigate the withdrawal symptoms and is ashamed of it.
  • Only a partial example since Sherlock Holmes actually is canonically a drug addict. However, there's one particularly amusing scene in "The Adventure of the Missing Three-Quarter" where Watson walks in on Holmes filling a needle during a case and panics. It turns out that the solution is really aniseed oil, with which Holmes marks a carriage so that Watson's dog can follow it.
  • In a Sweet Valley High Christmas edition, Jessica snoops through the personal belongings of their houseguest (she hates the girl and has become suspicious of her behavior) and concludes that she's a drug addict based on the number of pill bottles that she finds. In reality, the girl is ill and the pills are her medications. (And there is no way that the bottles wouldn't have been labeled. Even as a high school student with no medical education, it's unlikely that Jessica couldn't have realized that these were medicines, not illegal substances).
  • There's a variation in one of the Trace novels by Warren Murphy. A big-time movie star travels with a doctor who gives him pills on a regular basis. The movie star acts like these are some kind of "happy pills", but the doctor later reveals that the star is in poor health and all the pills are actually medically necessary.

    Live-Action TV 
  • It happens in The A-Team episode "Beverly Hills Assault". When Penny tells the team her boyfriend's nickname, Face asks if he's into drugs. She quickly explains that they gave him the nickname "Speed" because of his rapidity as a painter.
  • In the Broad City episode "Game Over," Abbi becomes so aggressively competitive during Soulstice Games Day that Trey takes her aside and tells her she doesn't need to take steroids to be cool.
  • In the third season finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy goads Angel into drinking her blood to cure him of poisoning (only Slayer blood works). She passes out from blood loss and Angel rushes her to hospital. Because of Buffy's state coupled with Angel's dishevelled appearance and erratic behavior (including ripping a door handle clean off), the doctors ask him if he and Buffy have been doing drugs so they can treat her properly. Angel assures them it's just blood loss.
  • Potential inversion twice in Cardiac Arrest reminding us that insulin is actually a very dangerous chemical. First when someone injects themselves with an overdose as suicide and second when a deranged diabetic injects a doctor with his own insulin. The series ends with the doctor, who is the main character, being carried into the operating theater after preliminary treatment on a couch.
  • CSI: NY:
    • Hawkes, after his girlfriend took him to a party where pot was being used. He was around the smoke long enough that he got the residue in his system and it showed in his random NYPD drug test. It wasn't enough to get him fired, though Mac called him on it.
    • A victim was found with a syringe stuck in her arm. Everyone assumed she was a heroin addict until Mac recognized her and insisted she wasn't a user. Sid found three things to confirm he was right: only a small amount in her system, not a single other needle mark on her, and calluses on her fingers suggesting the arm with the needle was her dominant side.
  • A similar thing happened to Delko in CSI: Miami, except it was his sister (who was taking it for medical reasons) and him testing positive (along with a few other things) convinces an IA agent that the lab's corrupt causing her to try and plant evidence to "prove" it.
  • Dark Angel:
    • Max was caught taking a supplement that stopped her seizures and her roommate thought it was drugs, so she flushed the pills.
    • Max herself entered the exact moment a prostitute was injecting herself and received a very casual "I'm a diabetic, this is my insulin shot" right after the woman noticed her presence.
  • On Degrassi, when Marisol is planning a trip for her and her boyfriend Mo and needs to fill out a travel insurance form, he won't let her fill it out for him. She gets paranoid and goes through his bag, finding needles. Marisol assumes that he is a junkie (despite the fact that she doesn't even know what drug uses needles) until she finds out he's diabetic.
  • Dexter: When Dexter is caught in his web of lies at one point and thinks he is going to be exposed as a serial killer, instead it is assumed that he is a drug addict. He goes along with it.
  • One episode of Doc Martin has a woman whose erratic behavior and foul breath causes people around Portwen to believe she's a drunkard. Once Martin is called after she collapses, he instantly diagnoses her as being a diabetic: her "drunken" breath was actually caused by a buildup of ketones in her bloodstream.
  • Emergency!:
    • One episode has a know-everything former combat medic training to become a paramedic. The patient he insists is on an acid trip turns out to be a diabetic with dangerously low blood sugar, who would have died if Roy and Johnny haven't given him glucose.
    • In another episode, Roy and Johnny respond to a man who started acting erratically and then passed out. His coworker admits the man has been smoking weed but insists there wasn't anything else mixed in that could have caused an overdose of this sort — he grows his own. The doctors eventually figure out that the patient has been treating his homegrown weed with parathion, an organophosphate pesticide that had been banned for its toxicity to humans.
  • ER:
    • A similar scene occurs when a young man is rushed into the hospital with chest pains. Dave Malucci assumed he was having a cocaine-induced heart attack, despite his brother insisting that he didn't use drugs, as well as a negative toxicology screen. To that end, he browbeats his senior doctor into giving the man a thrombolytic (a clot-dissolving drug used in the treatment of heart attacks and strokes) — which kills him because the man wasn't having a heart attack, but an aortic dissection.
    • Also a scene in which Kerry Weaver is caught using a hypodermic needle clearly has some of her coworkers worried about this, given her recent erratic behavior. It turns out she's taking hormones to boost her fertility.
    • And another in which Carter becomes suspicious when he notices Lucy taking pills and then having a clearly more upbeat demeanor than before. When he confronts her, it turns out that she is using amphetamines — prescribed by her doctor for treatment of ADHD.
    • A year later, this is completely inverted with Carter, whose mood swings and erratic behavior are attributed to post-traumatic stress following his attack. It turns out he's addicted to painkillers.
  • In the second season of Everwood Delia Brown walks in on Linda Abbott taking a lot of pills in their bathroom. She tells Linda she "thought she was a junkie" when she finds out she was actually Taking medication to maintain control of her HIV.
  • A variant with Estrogen shots in the BBC drama The Family Man.
  • Meta example: Everyone wanted to know what was up with that syringe Inara in Firefly was holding. Joss assured the public at large that it wasn't a suicide shot or some kind of narcotic (the closest to actually confirming what it was, was implying that a second season of the show would have explored some sort of illness on Inara's part).
  • Home and Away:
    • Happened once with the insulin shot.
    • Happened again, with pills this time around. It's understandable, however, as Belle actually was a junkie for the first half of 2009.
  • House:
    • There's a scene that fits this: the title character is snorting a white powder, and it turns out to just be antihistamines for his cold.
    • In one episode House stopped taking his Vicodin and appeared pain-free. His colleagues deduced he had started heroin but he had actually turned to methadone.
    • This trope is what actually attributed to the loss of House's leg muscle. He was in obvious huge amounts of pain, injected himself in the thigh with Demerol, the doctors thought he was just an addict and sent him home. And you know what happened next...
  • There's an example on Jonathan Creek where something like this is pulled on the audience - we see the girl pull out a syringe early in the episode, leaving us to assume she's a junkie. Later she does the same thing, but it's quickly confiscated by her aunt. Her aunt is the murderer, and is trying to kill the girl (who is diabetic) by locking her in a room without her insulin after she discovered a tape she used to make the (blind) victim jump out of the window, thinking there was a fire.
  • On Law & Order, detectives view video footage of their murder victim staggering around while at a party. They assume she was drunk, but the autopsy reveals that she received a head injury and was suffering from intracranial bleeding.
  • Neighbours. After seeing Danni Stark inject insulin for her diabetes, Michael Martin spreads a rumour that she is using drugs. She goes along with it to get attention.
  • An episode of Peak Practice has a homeless diabetic who everyone assumes is the mother of an abandoned child. At one point she gets all her insulin supplies destroyed by a group of yobs.
  • Noa Olivar in Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin got sent to juvie over the summer for doing drugs and has to take a urine drug test every day at school. Noa gets framed for using again by A who switches out her urine sample for one with cannabis in it. And she tells her boyfriend Shawn that she's never even used drugs before, Noa got arrested because she took the rap for her mom.
  • Seinfeld:
    • The wonderful episode where Elaine tests positive for opium as a result of eating too many poppy-seed bagels. Meanwhile, the showerheads in Jerry and Kramer's building have been changed to a low-pressure model, and they're so desperate for a decent wash ("I feel like I have little bugs crawling all over me!") that they end up furtively buying new ones from a shady guy with a van. Kramer visiting Elaine at her office to talk to her about it results in her getting Mistaken for Dealer on top of it all. And Kramer buys "the one designed for elephants".note 
    • Another Seinfeld is entitled "The Sniffing Accountant", and you can probably guess that one from the title. (It turns out to be an allergy to mohair... until it turns out it actually is drugs).
  • Strong Medicine:
    • Strong Medicine possibly ripped off the Emergency example cited above when one of Lu's patients is arrested for drug use, perplexing her as the woman has no history of this. It turns out that she's a diabetic who took too much of her insulin, resulting in symptoms that mimicked a PCP overdose. While testifying, Lu surprisingly sides with the cops after admitting that even a doctor would have trouble distinguishing the difference without running the proper tests, much less a layperson.
    • Also, when Dr. Dylan West follows his patient to where she buys her supply of heroin (he's trying to help her quit), the cops show up and arrest them both, not believing his explanations. The entire time he's in jail, he becomes very edgy, twitchy, and ill, making viewers wonder if he really does have a drug problem of his own, only for him to be seen injecting himself with insulin, revealing that he himself is a diabetic.
    • And when the staff is subjected to drug testing. Peter is worried that he might test positive given his occasional pot-smoking. He doesn't, but Lana tested positive for cocaine, stunning her as she had long since given up that lifestyle. It turns out the medium used for testing — human hair because toxic substances can linger in the hair long after a person has last used the drug — could also easily pick up outside substances. Lana lived in a poor neighborhood where drug use was frequent and the cocaine particles in the air had clung to her hair (and it being African-American hair made them even more likely to stick than to hair of different ethnicity and texture), making her test positive even though she no longer used drugs.
  • In That '70s Show Eric's parents thought that he's on drugs when he started acting weird; actually, he saw them having sex.
  • 3rd Rock from the Sun inverts this hilariously with Sally finding bags of cooking herbs in Tommy's sock drawer and the family confronting him about his hidden cooking skills. Tommy tries to cover it up by saying it's pot.
  • On Webster the reason George doesn't want Webster's uncle played by Ben Vereen to have custody of him. He saw his syringe in Webster's parents' bathroom years ago and assumed he was shooting himself up with heroin. It turns out he's diabetic.

  • The Suicidal Tendencies song "Institutionalized" has its focus character getting sent to an institution partly because of this trope.

    Myths & Religion 
  • A few instances from The Bible:
    • In 1 Samuel, Hannah's impassioned prayer (doing so almost silently) is mistaken for drunken ramblings by Eli, a head priest. However, the first chapter has made it clear that the behaviour Eli suspected was common at this time. He probably caught more than one person wandering into the temple drunk, and was making an innocent mistake.
    • Similarly, in Acts, the disciples are mistaken for drunk during the Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit pours out the gift of tongues on them. Sadly, there are preachers who ran with the idea that Peter and the other apostles were actually "drunk in the Spirit" based on a misinterpretation of Peter's defense, "For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day," (Acts 2:15) and hopscotching it with Paul's admonition in Ephesians 5:18 to "do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit." In this case, they are being Mistaken (by the very readers of Scripture) For Junkie Prophet.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Played for horror in one of Hunter: The Vigil's NPC monsters. A Changeling who is constantly shivering is assumed by her coworkers to be an addict, when in fact it's because she has an icicle stuck in her heart.

    Video Games 
  • Beyond: Two Souls: During the "Homeless" chapter, Stan assumes Jodie is a drug addict after she has a ghost-related freak-out. She has to assure him that she's not.
  • A tragic example in Fallout: New Vegas with Vera Keyes. Her partner in crime finds out that she has been making heavy use of narcotics and painkillers, and blackmails her into helping him. Technically it's true that Vera is indeed on all of those drugs.... but the reason is that she's terminally ill and her condition causes her severe chronic pain. She doesn't want anyone to know she's dying, so she takes drugs secretly to manage her symptoms.
  • In Persona 4: Arena, Akihiko's tagline is "The Two-Fisted Protein Junkie" because of his insistence on a fighter's need for protein drinks. A South American bartender gets the wrong idea when Akihiko asks for a fix and mentions withdrawal.
  • In Vampires Dawn, three citizens of Melsan survive the World Sundering. Their talks of a white light and an unknown city lead everyone to believe they've consumed mushrooms and they're put into prison in Rynik.
  • One of the subplots that appears in Unisys game A Week in the Life of..., where a character notices someone else taking an insulin injection.
  • In Yakuza 0, one of Kiryu's sidequests involves a shady-looking man named Kitajima in an alley who offers to sell him the finest quality mushrooms. As in, the culinary ones. Naturally, a group of street punks, yakuza, and even The Mafia assume he's peddling the hallucinogenic kind which involves Kiryu saving him from them. He eventually has an incredibly profitable business with them in Europe after.

    Visual Novels 
  • Goes badly in Kara no Shoujo when Mizuhara Toko mistakes her friend Kuchiki's medication for drugs - and gets rid of it. This means that Kuchiki is without it when her condition begins to act up and deliriously wanders into traffic where she passes out and gets hit by a truck.

    Web Comics 
  • Parodied by FoxxFireart in his/her Code Geass fan-comics Code Geass - Refraining. In R2 when Lelouch is going to use drugs to escape from his depression.
  • In Runners the planet Ciceron has a huge crush problem, which Keyla attempts to solve by finding a cure for the addicts. When her father finds out she's been trying to get her hands on some crush, he's devastated.
  • One Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal plays with this - the situation is a woman being held back from a syringe, and we assume she's on some sort of illegal drug. Then it turns out it's insulin. Double Subversion: she's not diabetic.
  • In a story arc of Sandra and Woo the girl Larisa is caught by a teacher when giving herself an insulin shot during recess. The initial confusion was logical enough since Larisa did play up the "junkie" image for a laugh, but even after being informed that she literally needs it to live, the principal continues insisting that taking this "dangerous drug" violates the school's zero-tolerance policy against drugs. The plot was inspired by a similar incident on a U.S. middle school in the 1990s. Start reading here.
  • In Sunstone, Ally's neglect of her day-to-day life during her relationship with Alan caused her mother to make this mistake when in reality she was addicted to the BDSM.
  • A Transe-Generation comic has a trans man's testosterone injection mistaken for a drug.

    Web Original 
  • Not Always Right and its spinoff sites have many stories where people who need medication for its intended use (cancer, chronic pain) or have an unusual requirement (medicine for a sick pet, allergic to NSAID painkillers) are accused at the pharmacy of seeking drugs for recreational use.
  • Merry managed to pull this off to a transit cop in Whateley Universe while not even being caught taking anything. This was accomplished through a combination of migraines, hunger from increased mutant metabolism, and being homeless and traveling by tunnels at the time.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • In Batman Beyond Terry's mom jumps to conclusions upon finding suspicious-looking patches in her son's bag. To her credit these were drugs, a steroidal compound known as "slappers," but Terry was bringing them to his boss for analysis. Terry's (entirely truthful) excuses don't help: "They're not mine! I found them!". This gets cleared up in the end when Bruce brings her Terry’s medical exam, proving that he’s clean.
  • A Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law episode revolves around Shaggy and Scooby being mistaken for stoners and arrested for driving while under drugs. His friends call Harvey Birdman to prove his innocence. He too initially mistakes Shaggy and Scooby for being on drugs, but their friends tell him that they're just stupid and are always laughing at nothing.
  • The King of the Hill episode "Jumpin Crack Bass" has Hank accidentally using cocaine as fish bait. Hank gets caught by the police while trying to buy more, meaning he has to clear his name and show he's not a druggie.
  • A rather interesting case in Rick and Morty, as the accused actually does ingest drugs. However, it's not for recreation, but rather because his home planet's atmosphere was 10% heroin. Jerry attempts to use this as evidence against giving away his penis.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In an episode where Marge and Homer reminisce about college days; Homer had become a grunge rock star, but due to Marge dating her teacher he had become withdrawn and depressed. He wrote a song for her (a parody of "Glycerine") and when she saw it she went to go get him back: She found him with a syringe in his arm. When she went to pull it out, Homer cried "But I need it!". Turns out it was insulin, as Homer became diabetic from drinking too many Starbucks Frappuccinos; he really did need it.
    • She does this again with Bart when he gets into a trading card game and she mistakes him for a dealer.
  • South Park:
    • The episode "Major Boobage" does this with cat urine. When Kyle's dad Gerald finds out, he freaks out and latches onto both the Jerkass Ball and the Villain Ball by having cats banned from South Park. For some reason, while the boys were trying to help Kenny get over his cat urine addiction, Kyle decides to take a cat home. Bad idea, because Sheila finds it in his drawer, and it leads to a conflict between Kyle and his parents, who accuse him of being a smuggler and punish him without any explanation. Shortly after, it turns out that Gerald was an addict himself, hence why he stupidly banned the cats.
    • Again, in the episode "Ladder to Heaven":
      Congressman: Are you high or just incredibly stupid?
      President Bush: I assure you — I am not high!