Number One: Requiem for a Dream
Perhaps one of Darren Aronofsky’s most memorable films, Requiem for a Dream is a classic that has made many viewers think twice about using. And rightfully so. The movie follows characters whose dreams are horrifically crushed by various forms of addiction, and in the end, high hopes are all but lost.
Number Two: Midnight Cowboy
According to the American Film Institute, Midnight Cowboy is one of the 100 greatest films of all time, and for good reason. This movie displays desperate situations becoming further exacerbated by the realities of urban heroin abuse. In addition to winning multiple Academy Awards, Midnight Cowboy was selected for preservation by the Library of Congress in 1994.
Number Three: Blow
Adapted from the 1993 Bruce Porter book, Blow: How a Small Town Boy Made $100 Million with the Medellin Cocaine Cartel and Lost It All, Blow stars Johnny Depp in the memorable role of real-life drug trafficker George Jung. After making it big selling marijuana and going to jail for it, Jung becomes rich smuggling cocaine into the States. As with many stories on this list, however, Jung ultimately pays the price for his efforts in kickstarting the American cocaine market.
Number Four: Trainspotting
Trainspotting’s Mark Renton, played by Ewan McGregor, is a man trying to kick the habit. Despite its dark comedic undertones, Trainspotting shows at its core the classic pitfalls of remaining around your enablers. Despite his best intentions, Renton’s efforts to get clean are only thwarted by allowing crime and abuse back into his life.
Number Five: The Basketball Diaries
The Basketball Diaries is yet another tale of heroine addiction based on real-life events; this time from the perspective of poet and high school basketball star hopeful Jim Carroll. What starts as simple recreational drug use quickly spirals out of control, leading to a problem that sees Carroll engaging in theft, assault, prostitution and more. He’s only able to work his way out of the pit after spending time in Riker’s Island and having the strength to turn down free drugs after his release.
Number Six: Drugstore Cowboy
Bob Hughes is a superstitious man who finds himself in and out of prison for narcotics use. While he’s not locked up, Hughes leads a group of junkies who rob pharmacies throughout the Pacific Northwest to support their habits and score prescription drugs. When Hughes finally starts contemplating living clean, he finds that it’s likely already far too late.
Number Seven: A Scanner Darkly
Set in a not-so-distant dystopian future, A Scanner Darkly (based on the novel of the same name by Philip K. Dick) tells the story of an undercover detective who gets in over his head. Codenamed “Fred,” the undercover agent sets out to infiltrate a ring of small-time dealers of a powerful new hallucinogen called Substance D. During his investigation, however, Fred finds himself losing his identity as he too succumbs to the drug.