Archive for category Drug Films and Books

Fictional Drugs in Famous Hollywood Movies Are Dangerously Familiar

Drugs can start a lively discussion from different vantage points. Should drugs be legalized with due process? Are drugs dangerous or are they just misunderstood? Is it possible to create one super drug to trump other drugs?

The list goes on and on and while some people tend to gravitate towards scientific research, a majority of society’s curiosity towards drugs is due to media, especially through movies. Some people are at awe with how a small pill can enhance performance by a thousand-fold, or marvel at how a laced drink can melt your inhibitions away.

Drug-related films have the tendency to exaggerate and highlight drugs as a component that has the ability to completely change who we are and how we do things. While it may seem attractive, the drugs featured in these films, though fictional, may have dangerous counterparts that exist in real life.

drug films brave new worldSoma (Brave New World, 1931)

In Brave New World, author Aldous Huxley introduces “Soma,” an antidepressant capable of causing hallucinations when taken at high enough quantities. It was used for a number of purposes, some being “religious services to crowd control.“ Depending on the dosage and the context it is taken in, “soma” can both be innocent and fatal at the same time.

A real world “soma” would be ketamine, an experimental antidepressant. Much like soma, ketamine, when taken at extremely high doses, can cause “strong visual and auditory hallucinations, and severe disassociation or detachment.” Its effects would be fatal if the doses go even higher.

drug films a clockwork orangeMilk Plus (A Clockwork Orange, 1962)

The ‘60s was the era of the drug movement, when LSD was what the eccentric youth used to transcend into peace and tranquility in order to gain a sense of understanding about the world and the status quo. Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange plays on this archetype by introducing Alex and Milk Plus. In the film adaptation of a published work by Stanley Kubrick, Alex and his friends drink Milk Plus, which is milk laced with drugs that bring on disturbingly violent behavior in order to restore a perceived sense of social order.

In real life, Milk Plus produces the same effects as alcohol. Intoxication of alcohol can reduce your self-consciousness and can bring forth aggressive behavior, which is intrinsic in some people.

drug films arrested developmentTeamocil (Arrested Development, “Best Man for the Gob”, 2004)

In Arrested Development, Tobias Fünke tries to get his wife Lindsay and his daughter Maeby back together for “Dr. Fünke’s 100% Natural Good-Time Family Band Solution.” Lindsay attempts to sing the jingle from a commercial from the nineties that revolved around a non-FDA approved pharmaceutical drug called “Teamocil.”

According to the advertisement, Teamocil can “boost camaraderie among people while lowering sex drives.” Ironically, the forced amity between them only drove Tobias’s family further away.

Used as experimental therapy for PTSD, MMDA has been known to boost camaraderie and to make people friendlier. However, whereas Teamocil lowers sex drive, MMDA raises it.

drug films limitlessNZT-48 (Limitless, 2011)

Eddie Morra is experiencing writer’s block while struggling to make a living in New York City. After his girlfriend leaves him, Eddie runs into his ex-wife’s brother who offers him an experimental performance enhancing drug known as NZT-48. Eddie then uses the drug to get over his writer’s block and, later on, acquires more NZT-48 to gain a fortune in the stock market. This then leads to addiction, which then transcends into time-slipping blackouts all of which Eddie has no memory of.

After this film was released, a lot of drugs have been marked to have the same effects. In addition, nootropics have become known as the secret weapon for the corporate climbers of today. Nootropics are “chemical supplements that claim to improve cognitive functions, increase alertness and strengthen memory and recall.” It can exist in stimulants such as amphetamine (Aderall) or caffeine.

drug films lucyCPH4 (Lucy, 2014)

Much like Limitless, this 2014 film revolves around Lucy, a young woman who accidentally takes high doses of CPH4, a drug known to unlock the full power of the human brain. She then experiences strengthened human abilities, which then transofrms to mental and physical powers and eventually leads her to acquiring telepathic abilities.

Though there are no known drugs that can unlock the full potential of the human brain to the point where we attain superhero-grade powers, an overdose of amphetamines may deliver the same feeling. When overdosed, amphetamines can increase body temperature, blood pressure, strange and repetitive behavior, realistic hallucinations and even premature death.

drug films looperDropper (Looper, 2012)

Joe is a hitman who is given victims from the future. Though this gives him an ample financial situation, his contract states that he will die in the line of duty. Distraught by this, he and his cohorts abuse a drug called “droppers” wherein it is ingested in the form of eye drops, which then leads to psychoactive properties. This is often taken in a social setting, like a club.

Though there are no known drugs that can get an individual high through the form of eye drops, it is quite synonymous to the social activity of vodka eyeballing. It is believed that the practice, which involves pouring an amount of neat vodka into the eye, causes people to get drunk faster. However, this practice is considered very dangerous because it can lead to people to be robbed of their sight.

Another real life counterpart to droppers is cocaine administered as eye drops for anesthetic purposes, though it is unlikely you can get high from it.

drug films 21 jump streetHFS and Wifi (21 Jumpstreet, 2012 and 22 Jumpstreet, 2014)

The Jumpstreet films were used as a commentary to focus on the growth of drug culture among the youth with synthetic or designer drugs as the main source of activity.

Designer drugs or synthetic drugs are drugs designed for medical uses. In short, they are the dupes to the authentic substances by changing the molecular make-up of an illegal drug and making it legal. According to, designer drugs are cheap and easy to get and it can also occur in a myriad of names such as bath salts or flakka. However, a molecular tweak to the drug can create a new drug with an entirely different psychoactive effect.

Poster image sources:

Scarlett Johansson Looks a Little Pale on ‘Lucy’ Poster

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Three Best Hollywood Films About Drug Addiction

Much has been depicted on the silver screen about drugs – its abuse, addiction, manufacturing and distribution. Hollywood remains tactful in touching issues about drugs because there is very little difference between glamorizing a drug and communicating the moral and legal consequences of being hooked to it.

Drug-themed movies have come out simply because of the many angles in bringing the topic into life, despite the challenge to create a film that will capture the interest of a particular audience.

Below are some outstanding Hollywood films about drugs, the wild imagery of its turbulent world, and the thrilling adventure of being involved in this illicit trade.

traffic movie posterTraffic

Traffic is hailed as one of the most excellent films about drugs. It tackles the substance (pun intended) in different angles from the source, supporters, high risks and the battle against it. It is a modern-day suspense story set in the world of drug trafficking, bringing to mind the dangers of the trade.

Practical scenarios depicted in the story expose truths such as the influence of people in public positions who support the trade. Their awareness of drug laws does not hinder them from using drugs as a lucrative source of money. The movie perfectly captures the spirit of the drug problem as a punching bag: No matter how hard you hit, it will always be there, hanging and unchanged.


limitless movie posterThe story revolves around a wonder drug called NZT, which is said to boost the brain to perform to its full capacity as opposed to the myth that an individual can only use 10 to 20 percent of the brain’s power. Amazingly, instead of distorting thoughts, it enables the user to remember whatever he has seen and read like a reliable storage device.

An exciting and thrilling movie, Limitless is about a writer who has low self esteem after being rejected by his girlfriend who thinks that he has no future. He proves her wrong when one day he comes across NZT through a friend. His life turns right side up when a business tycoon takes notice of him because of his cleverness. The two pair up to make billions, but the protagonist faces a disturbing reality: he is running out of NZT.

Thrill and adventure emerges as he struggles to cope with withdrawal symptoms and run away from hit men who threaten to eliminate him in line with the wonder drug trade.

Pineapple Express

pineapple express movie posterNamed after a special variety of marijuana, Pineapple Express is all about a process server who witnesses a murder involving the most treacherous drug lord in the city. The state of shock in seeing the crime unfold makes him drop his stash of marijuana in the crime scene. Too disturbed that his joint of Pineapple Express is rare enough to be traced back to him, he and his two friends try to escape the bad guys who are out to kill them.

Pineapple Express is a hilarious film about the perils of drug industry.


You might also want to read our earlier recommendations on drug-themed movies from the classics, the 1980s, and the 1990s.

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Substance Abuse Books for Children

How do you talk to kids about substance abuse?

That’s a question many parents have been asking for years, because the truth is, explaining to children the basic concept of drug and alcohol abuse can be quite difficult. You need to be careful with your choice of words to help them understand why abusing drugs, alcohol, and tobacco is dangerous. Sometimes you wish you could just tell them to read available information on the Internet so they’d get an idea, but even that may not work if the materials don’t interest them or are harder to comprehend.

So we searched for some kids-friendly books on substance abuse and here’s what we found:

children's books on substance abuseDaddy Doesn’t Have to Be a Giant Anymore
Children see their dads as their protectors but even them need help sometimes. In this book, a little girl sees how his father falls victim to alcohol. The addiction gets worse that it results to tarnished relationships within the household. One day, the girl’s dad agrees to seek treatment which helps restore the family.  Pages are presented with pen-and-ink, watercolor, and pastel drawings that emphatically displays the emotional impact of the situation.

An Elephant In the Living Room The Children’s Book
This book is ideal for 9 years old and up. The illustrated story is designed to help understand and cope with the problem of alcoholism or other drug addiction in the family. It also helps a parent to open the lines of communication on topics that are usually challenging to discuss among kids.

Emmy’s Question
Emmy is a typical kid who only wants to have a happy family, except her mother is struggling with alcohol problem. The book shows the humiliation and pain a little girl has to endure just because her mom makes a bad choice. Her compelling journey to find the answer is one that will empower any youngster struggling under the shadow of a parent’s addiction.

My Big Sister Takes Drugs
This 32-page paperback captures the dilemma of a family when one of its members becomes addicted to drugs. It delivers a realistic portrayal of how a boy’s life has been impacted when his older sister started using drugs and eventually ending up in rehab. Watercolored images were complemented by easy-to-understand text to keep a young reader’s interest.

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Must-Have Books on Substance Abuse

Understanding substance abuse isn’t only for drug addicts. In fact, it would be of everyone’s interest if we all have at least a basic knowledge about the disease in order to prevent addiction, help and support people with drug and alcohol abuse problems, and be non-judgemental.

Whether you know someone struggling with addiction issues or simply want to know more about substance abuse, here are some books worth spending your time with:

books on substance abuseClean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America’s Greatest Tragedy (David Sheff)
This recently release 400-page hardcover offers clear, compelling guidance for parents and others who want to prevent drug problems. Similarly, it provides evidence-based approaches for addicts and their loved ones to effectively deal with addiction. Sheff expertly shows readers that there’s something we can do to address the epidemic that has been crushing the lives of millions of people. Facts presented on the book is based on the latest research in psychology, neuroscience, and medicine.

A Parent’s Guide to Substance Abuse and Addiction (Kellena Page)
This 131-page Kindle edition educates parents on the most widely abused substances there is, how they are used, how addiction occurs, and the resulting physical, psychological, and legal consequences. Its primary mission is to inform and open a pathway of communication, trust, and respect between parents and their teens about drug and alcohol abuse. The more you know about the consequences of substance abuse, the stronger you’ll strive hard to fight it.

Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction (David Sheff)
In this book, David Sheff chronicles his son’s downward spiral into addiction and the impact on him and his family. The author tells Nic Sheff’s story  from the perspective of a father and the heartbreaking drama the family has to go through in watching a loved one struggling with addiction and recovery. As the parent of an addict, David cycles through denial, acceptance and resistance — pretty much what any parent would have felt when one of his/her children becomes a victim of substance abuse.

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‘Ten Forty Eight’ Film Highlights the Dangers of Prescription Drug Abuse

An independent filmmaker from Wisconsin partnered with several community organizations to educate kids about the risks of prescription drug abuse.

prescription drug abuseRon Haese, a well known producer and director of feature films and documentaries, is on the verge of finishing Ten Forty Eight — a film that underscores the serious consequences of prescription drug abuse among teens. The project is in partnership with Town of Menasha and city of Menasha police departments, Theda Clark Medical Center, Gold Cross Ambulance, Westgor Funeral Home and Sterling Gardens Florist.

Ten Forty Eight tells the story of a group of high school students who get prescription drugs through a variety of means and gather in a basement to take them. It stars students from Neenah, Kimberly and Kiel high schools to help teenage viewers connect with the story. In one of the scenes, two teenagers were rushed to a hospital after overdosing from prescription medications. One of the students is resuscitated while the other did not survive from the incident. Other characters in the film are arrested and put to jail.

“This is a problem that’s coming up often in kids’ lives,” Haese told PostCrescent. “I’m not sure they understand the consequences of taking these drugs. I hope this film can help them understand.”

Filming of Ten Forty Eight wraps up this month. Haese is hoping to have the movie ready for viewing next school year.

Haese is a veteran in producing and directing films that help raise awareness about issues like alcohol drinking and drug abuse. He has entered 15 of his films into national film festival competitions which earned him over a dozen national awards, with four awards for his writing.

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3 Most Realistic Movies About Drug Use

Over the years, many Hollywood films have made futile attempts to capture the dark, harrowing side of substance abuse. While others remain forgettable, there are a few that really stood out — not because they had the best cast in the film but because they managed to take the viewers to the reality of addiction.

Here are some of the most realistic movies that tackle the most prominent issue in the society.

drug addiction moviesTraffic (2000)
The film explores the illegal drug trade from a number of perspectives: a user, an enforcer, a politician and a trafficker. It is divided among three storylines — all of which capturing the intensely dangerous world of drugs. Cinema Crazed calls it “very realistic” while Rolling Stone describes the film as a “real cannonball, a hardass drama about the drug trade.”

Drugstore Cowboy (1989)
The film follows the journey of a group of heroin addicts who travel across the Pacific Northwest robbing pharmacies and hospitals to support their habit. It shows some graphic scenes of the characters wasting their lives with drugs and being rocked by waves of euphoria. When one of the young addicts died of drug overdose, Bob (played by Matt Dillon) decides to leave his life of crime only to discover there is more to extricating himself from the drug user’s lifestyle than just giving up drugs.

The Boost (1988)
This film depicts how addiction could ruin a happy marriage and turn a life of difficulty in deeper misery. When a friend introduced Lenny Brown (James Woods) to cocaine, it wasn’t only him that got hooked, but also his wife. The couple eventually lost their home, car, jobs, and their unborn baby. As the cocaine addiction gets the best of Lenny, he ends up severely beating his wife which ended her in a hospital.

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