Drugs fascinate us as illegal, mind-altering substances, making them a very popular subject when it comes to movies. This is a list of the best movies about drugs that focus on many types of drugs, from weed to cocaine to prescription drugs, and a few of the movies here also take a look at the horrors of addiction. So avoid addiction or legal trouble by getting high on life with these great movies about drugs that may alter your mind without the use of mind-altering substances. If you need help with addiction, reach out to a therapist that works with addicts, like Elizabeth over at https://OneMindTherapy.com
Blow – For those that say weed is a gateway to worse drugs, this is one of the movies here that reinforces that belief. It’s based on the true story of a drug smuggler who started out peddling weed in California and, through a chance encounter during a prison stay, met a man that would introduce him to the world of another of the most popular drugs on the planet: cocaine. It’s one of the movies here that focuses more on the addiction to power in the drug trade, rather than addiction to the drugs that are being smuggled. Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz all give stellar performances in one of the best modern movies about drugs, and also a good one for encouraging viewers to stay out of the dangerous and ruinous world of the drug trade.
Scarface – And here’s one of the most popular movies about drugs, and another about a rise to power due to involvement in the drug trade. Al Pacino’s Tony Montana starts out as a Cuban refugee that comes to America with hopes of becoming a big shot. His criminal history in America starts with a murder, and he and his friend find themselves in more and more situations to make big money in the criminal underground, eventually leading to Tony Montana’s rise as one of the biggest cocaine dealers in the country. Oft-quoted and one of those movies that’s a favorite among guys, this is one of the most heralded of the drug movies on this list, and one that shows how crime, addiction, and drugs can all walk hand-in-hand.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – This is one of the most bizarre movies about drugs you’ll ever see, a caricature of the life of Hunter S. Thompson, a man well-known for his dabbling in a very wide array of drugs. This is one of the movies here that has a more humorous take on drugs, with a gonzo writer setting out to Las Vegas to cover a race in the desert, along with his psychopathic attorney and a literal grab-bag of drugs. Full of hallucinations and moments that aren’t hallucinations but seem too crazy to be real, this is one of the funniest movies about drugs you’ll ever see, although you do get a few glimpses of the dark side of addiction, as when Dr. Gonzo almost kills himself through his wishes of having the radio playing ‘White Rabbit’ thrown in the bathtub with him. If you liked one of the more modern movies about drugs and Vegas, ‘The Hangover’, then you’ve definitely got to see this wild precursor to it.
Blue Velvet – This is one of the movies here that doesn’t focus as much on drugs, but since it features one of the most bizarre uses of a drug and is simply one of the craziest movies you’ll ever see, I’ve got to put it on this list. Dennis Hopper is one of the scariest drug users I’ve ever seen in a movie, as a sadistic psychopath whose drug of choice in nitrous oxide (the laughing gas they give you at the dentist’s office). There’s something truly terrifying about the way he huffs the stuff in and seemingly transforms into even more of a monster, and although this is one of the movies about drugs here that doesn’t feature a whole lot of drug use, it’s definitely one of the most memorable.
Up in Smoke – After all of the dark movies about drugs on this list, weed isn’t looking so bad, although, as Cheech and Chong prove, it can get you in a bit of trouble sometimes. These two stoners make all those pushing for the legalization of weed look bad, by desperately smoking a blunt that contains dog feces (after the dog ate Chong’s stash of weed), and getting in trouble with the law constantly (although, through blind stoners’ luck, they keep managing to get off scot-free). It’s one of the funniest movies you’ll see about weed, one of the milder drugs on this list, but one that doesn’t do the “be wise, legalize” movement any justice.
Trainspotting – Choose a life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Or choose addiction. This is one of the many movies about drugs here that makes drug use seem tempting at first, as an easy way to escape all of life’s troubling choices. However, with some incredibly gross moments (retrieving drugs from a filthy toilet) and a few extremely disturbing ones (the baby scene), it’s definitely one of the movies here that focuses more on the dark side of drug addiction. For it’s portrayals of terrifying hallucinations, the effects of trying to quit “cold turkey”, and the difficulty those with addiction face in fitting in with society, this is definitely one of the best modern movies about drugs and addiction.
Drugstore Cowboy – This is another of the movies about drugs here that focuses on addiction and an attempt to quit, although this movie takes a look at a slightly different world: that of prescription drugs. Matt Dillion gives the performance of his career as a “drugstore cowboy”, a guy that comes up with clever ways to raid drugstores to obtain a variety of prescription drugs. Famous recovering drug addict and author William S. Burroughs makes an appearance in the movie (he wrote ‘Naked Lunch’, a book that was turned into one of the weirdest drug movies you’ll ever see of the same name), and we see how hard it can be for someone to overcome addiction, as Matt Dillion’s character copes with losing his girlfriend and friends, guilt over a disastrous incident involving drugs, trying to work a steady job, and overcoming his overwhelming cravings. In other words, it’s just not about recovering from an addiction to drugs, but an addiction to a lifestyle. When it comes to movies about drugs that feel realistic, this is definitely one of the best.
Maria Full of Grace – This is one of the most unique movies about drugs you’ll ever see, as it’s not about addiction or drug lords, but the lesser-known fringe world of drug smuggling: the poor that are drawn to smuggling drugs for quick cash in an extremely dangerous way. Here a pregnant teen girl working in deplorable conditions learns of a quick way to make money: smuggling heroin as a “mule”. This entails swallowing cocaine pellets (cocaine wrapped in plastic), a practice that can prove deadly if one of them ruptures. It’s one of the best movies about the world of drugs on this list, exploring a sad and dangerous side of the drug trade that many of us didn’t know existed before the film.
Friday – And now for another of the funny movies about drugs on this list. The drug of choice here is weed, of course (you’ll rarely see dark and disturbing drug movies about weed), and it takes place in urban Los Angeles, where two friends (Ice Cube and Chris Tucker) experience the world of small-time drug dealing, with Tucker’s wound-up character Smokey getting in trouble with a drug dealer and dragging his innocent friend into the fray with him. You’ll be amazed at how much can happen between Thursday and Friday when weed enters the picture (along with the other crazy characters in one of the funniest movies about drugs you’ll ever see, including a crack head and the girl whose theme song is ‘Hoochie Mama’).
Requiem for a Dream – This is one of the most surreal movies about drugs you’ll ever see, a dreamlike/nightmarish window into the world of addiction. Of course the drug use takes a back seat to one of the most unforgettable scenes from movies about addiction you’ll ever see (if you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about). From the devastating effects of addiction to prescription medicine to the lengths some drug users will go to obtain their poison (prostitution), this is one of the movies about drugs here that delves extremely far into the dark side of abuse, perhaps offering the best portrait of how painful and devastating it can be.
So from funny movies about weed to movies about the dark side of dangerous drugs, you don’t have to get high to have fun while watching some of the best movies about drugs.