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The 25 Best Drug Movies of All Time

The 25 best movies about drugs of all time. (in my opinion) This list includes anything from drug abuse to drug dealing to drug trafficking. This list does not include alcohol or marijuana abuse unless there are also harder drugs in the movie.

1. Requiem for a Dream (2000)

R | 102 min | Drama

The drug-induced utopias of four Coney Island people are shattered when their addictions run deep.

Director: Darren Aronofsky | Stars: Ellen Burstyn , Jared Leto , Jennifer Connelly , Marlon Wayans

Votes: 853,533 | Gross: $3.64M

Heroin & Other Substances

2. Pulp Fiction (1994)

R | 154 min | Crime, Drama

The lives of two mob hitmen, a boxer, a gangster and his wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption.

Director: Quentin Tarantino | Stars: John Travolta , Uma Thurman , Samuel L. Jackson , Bruce Willis

Votes: 2,084,772 | Gross: $107.93M

Cocaine & Other Substances

3. Boogie Nights (1997)

R | 155 min | Drama

Back when sex was safe, pleasure was a business and business was booming, an idealistic porn producer aspires to elevate his craft to an art when he discovers a hot young talent.

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson | Stars: Mark Wahlberg , Julianne Moore , Burt Reynolds , Luis Guzmán

Votes: 270,464 | Gross: $26.40M

Cocaine & Weed

4. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

R | 180 min | Biography, Comedy, Crime

Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort , from his rise to a wealthy stock-broker living the high life to his fall involving crime, corruption and the federal government.

Director: Martin Scorsese | Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio , Jonah Hill , Margot Robbie , Matthew McConaughey

Votes: 1,440,524 | Gross: $116.90M

5. Easy Rider (1969)

R | 95 min | Adventure, Drama

Two bikers head from L.A. to New Orleans through the open country and desert lands, and along the way they meet a man who bridges a counter-culture gap of which they had been unaware.

Director: Dennis Hopper | Stars: Peter Fonda , Dennis Hopper , Jack Nicholson , Antonio Mendoza

Votes: 112,327 | Gross: $41.73M

LSD & Weed

6. Trainspotting (1996)

R | 93 min | Drama

Renton, deeply immersed in the Edinburgh drug scene, tries to clean up and get out, despite the allure of the drugs and influence of friends.

Director: Danny Boyle | Stars: Ewan McGregor , Ewen Bremner , Jonny Lee Miller , Kevin McKidd

Votes: 695,485 | Gross: $16.50M

7. Magnolia (1999)

R | 188 min | Drama

An epic mosaic of interrelated characters in search of love, forgiveness and meaning in the San Fernando Valley.

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson | Stars: Tom Cruise , Jason Robards , Julianne Moore , Philip Seymour Hoffman

Votes: 317,170 | Gross: $22.46M

8. 21 Grams (2003)

R | 124 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

A freak accident brings together a critically ill mathematician, a grieving mother, and a born-again ex-con.

Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu | Stars: Sean Penn , Benicio Del Toro , Naomi Watts , Danny Huston

Votes: 240,159 | Gross: $16.29M

9. Eastern Promises (2007)

R | 100 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

A teenager who dies during childbirth leaves clues in her journal that could tie her child to a rape involving a violent Russian mob family.

Director: David Cronenberg | Stars: Naomi Watts , Viggo Mortensen , Armin Mueller-Stahl , Josef Altin

Votes: 248,247 | Gross: $17.11M

10. 25th Hour (2002)

R | 135 min | Drama

Cornered by the DEA, convicted New York drug dealer Montgomery Brogan reevaluates his life in the 24 remaining hours before facing a seven-year jail term.

Director: Spike Lee | Stars: Edward Norton , Barry Pepper , Philip Seymour Hoffman , Rosario Dawson

Votes: 180,923 | Gross: $13.06M

11. Pain and Glory (2019)

R | 113 min | Drama

A film director reflects on the choices he's made in life as the past and present come crashing down around him.

Director: Pedro Almodóvar | Stars: Antonio Banderas , Asier Etxeandia , Leonardo Sbaraglia , Nora Navas

Votes: 59,866

12. Scarface (1983)

R | 170 min | Crime, Drama

In 1980 Miami, a determined Cuban immigrant takes over a drug cartel and succumbs to greed.

Director: Brian De Palma | Stars: Al Pacino , Michelle Pfeiffer , Steven Bauer , Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio

Votes: 855,098 | Gross: $45.60M

13. City of God (2002)

R | 130 min | Crime, Drama

In the slums of Rio, two kids' paths diverge as one struggles to become a photographer and the other a kingpin.

Directors: Fernando Meirelles , Kátia Lund | Stars: Alexandre Rodrigues , Leandro Firmino , Matheus Nachtergaele , Phellipe Haagensen

Votes: 764,519 | Gross: $7.56M

14. Moonlight (I) (2016)

R | 111 min | Drama

A young African-American man grapples with his identity and sexuality while experiencing the everyday struggles of childhood, adolescence, and burgeoning adulthood.

Director: Barry Jenkins | Stars: Mahershala Ali , Naomie Harris , Trevante Rhodes , Alex R. Hibbert

Votes: 314,532 | Gross: $27.85M

Crack Cocaine

15. Beautiful Boy (I) (2018)

R | 120 min | Biography, Drama

Based on the best-selling pair of memoirs from father and son David and Nic Sheff, Beautiful Boy chronicles the heartbreaking and inspiring experience of survival, relapse and recovery in a family coping with addiction over many years.

Director: Felix van Groeningen | Stars: Steve Carell , Maura Tierney , Jack Dylan Grazer , Oakley Bull

Votes: 83,525 | Gross: $7.65M

Ecstasy & Amphetamines

16. Christiane F. (1981)

R | 138 min | Biography, Drama

A teen girl in 1970s Berlin becomes addicted to heroin. Everything in her life slowly begins to distort and disappear as she befriends a small crew of junkies and falls in love with a drug-abusing male prostitute.

Director: Uli Edel | Stars: Natja Brunckhorst , Eberhard Auriga , Peggy Bussieck , Lothar Chamski

Votes: 26,575

17. Traffic (2000)

R | 147 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

A conservative judge is appointed by the President to spearhead America's escalating war against drugs, only to discover that his teenage daughter is a crack addict. Two DEA agents protect an informant. A jailed drug baron's wife attempts to carry on the family business.

Director: Steven Soderbergh | Stars: Michael Douglas , Benicio Del Toro , Catherine Zeta-Jones , Jacob Vargas

Votes: 210,670 | Gross: $124.12M

Crack Cocaine & Other Substances

18. American Gangster (2007)

R | 157 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

An outcast New York City cop is charged with bringing down Harlem drug lord Frank Lucas, whose real life inspired this partly biographical film.

Director: Ridley Scott | Stars: Denzel Washington , Russell Crowe , Chiwetel Ejiofor , Josh Brolin

Votes: 432,831 | Gross: $130.16M

19. The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996)

R | 130 min | Biography, Drama

The story of controversial pornography publisher Larry Flynt, and how he became a defender of free speech.

Director: Milos Forman | Stars: Woody Harrelson , Courtney Love , Edward Norton , Brett Harrelson

Votes: 97,094 | Gross: $20.19M

Prescription Drugs & Other Substances

20. Dope (2015)

R | 103 min | Adventure, Comedy, Crime

Life changes for Malcolm, a geek who's surviving life in a tough neighborhood, after a chance invitation to an underground party leads him and his friends into a Los Angeles adventure.

Director: Rick Famuyiwa | Stars: Shameik Moore , Tony Revolori , Kiersey Clemons , Kimberly Elise

Votes: 86,979 | Gross: $17.51M

Ecstacy & Other Substances

21. Blow (2001)

R | 124 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

The story of how George Jung , along with the Medellín Cartel headed by Pablo Escobar , established the American cocaine market in the 1970s in the United States.

Director: Ted Demme | Stars: Johnny Depp , Penélope Cruz , Franka Potente , Rachel Griffiths

Votes: 264,867 | Gross: $52.99M

22. The Basketball Diaries (1995)

R | 102 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

A teenager finds his dreams of becoming a basketball star threatened after he free falls into the harrowing world of drug addiction.

Director: Scott Kalvert | Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio , Lorraine Bracco , Marilyn Sokol , James Madio

Votes: 114,482 | Gross: $2.42M

23. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

R | 118 min | Adventure, Comedy, Drama

An oddball journalist and his psychopathic lawyer travel to Las Vegas for a series of psychedelic escapades.

Director: Terry Gilliam | Stars: Johnny Depp , Benicio Del Toro , Tobey Maguire , Michael Lee Gogin

Votes: 288,715 | Gross: $10.68M

LSD & Other Substances

24. The French Connection (1971)

R | 104 min | Action, Crime, Drama

A pair of NYPD detectives in the Narcotics Bureau stumble onto a heroin smuggling ring based in Marseilles, but stopping them and capturing their leaders proves an elusive goal.

Director: William Friedkin | Stars: Gene Hackman , Roy Scheider , Fernando Rey , Tony Lo Bianco

Votes: 126,016 | Gross: $15.63M

25. Half Nelson (2006)

R | 106 min | Drama

An inner-city junior high school teacher with a drug habit forms an unlikely friendship with one of his students after she discovers his secret.

Director: Ryan Fleck | Stars: Ryan Gosling , Anthony Mackie , Shareeka Epps , Jeff Lima

Votes: 88,670 | Gross: $2.69M

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Screen Rant

15 drug themed movies to watch if you loved blow.

From the gritty classics to underrated gems, these are the best movies about addiction and drugs that Blow fans will love.

Drugs are prominently featured throughout all aspects of pop culture, whether it's through a rap song, a sordid novel, or displayed through our screens, and continue to fascinate our society. With the breakout success of TV shows like Breaking Bad (2008) and Narcos (2015), the representation of drugs throughout media proceeds to soar.

RELATED:  15 Stars Who Destroyed Their Careers With Drugs

The widely-beloved drama  Blow  (2001) will make any list of drug-related movies, gathering the inspiration for today's exploration. Here are the best drug-related movies to watch if you appreciated  Blow .

Updated on December 6th, 2020 by Mark Birrell:  Though given middling reviews from critics on release, and even contributing to Penelope Cruz's Golden Raspberry Award nomination for Worst Actress, Ted Demme's Blow is a very highly-rated movie amongst fans of both star Johnny Depp's overall body of work and movies about the drug trade in general. Taking into account the movie's only increased popularity over time, we've increased the number of our recommendations to 15 to better help those fans looking for similar stories.

American Made (2017)

Based on the story of pilot Barry Seal, who became heavily involved in the smuggling of cocaine from South America into the United States during the 1980s, this thriller stars Tom Cruise as Seal and delves more deeply into the mechanics of the drug trade, particularly the CIA's involvement with the Medellin Cartel and the Nicaraguan Contras.

American Made  handles a lot of the same subject matter as Blow and in the same time periods, only from a different perspective, and Cruise is more than enough star power to satisfy fans of Johnny Depp's compelling performance as George Jung.

Mr. Nice (2010)

Another adaptation of a true story from a larger-than-life dealer figure within the drug trade during the turbulence of the 70s and 80s,  Mr. Nice  dramatizes the life of Howard Marks within the illegal drugs trade, specifically the dealing of marijuana.

In a sense Marks' story is an alternate version of Jung's within  Blow , showing what may have been in another place in the world if Jung had stuck to his original business of smuggling marijuana, though Marks has more than his fair share of run-ins with the law throughout his story.

Dope (2015)

A much more generally upbeat movie about young people trying to survive the drugs trade, and not based directly on real-life figures in any way,  Dope  is more in the vein of John Hughes than it is Martin Scorsese but will definitely appeal to fans of  Blow 's wildest moments.

The story follows an ambitious teenager in Inglewood, California who becomes roped into an ordeal involving misplaced MDMA and is taken on a coming-of-age journey as he attempts to stay one step ahead of things.

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

A retelling of the heyday of Jordan Belfort, an unscrupulous Wall Street mogul famous for making as much money as he could through whatever loophole he could find,  The Wolf of Wall Street  is about the real drug at the center of  Blow (money) but also defines Belfort by his addictions to various other substances, particularly quaaludes.

Leonardo DiCaprio 's lead performance is outstanding as is the supporting work of Jonah Hill and Margot Robbie , in particular, but its director Martin Scorsese's signature style that's the real selling point of the movie. It makes  The Wolf of Wall Street  one of the few true successors to Scorsese's crime masterpiece  Goodfellas , which  Blow  so clearly emulates throughout.

Party Monster (2003)

Based on a true story, Macaulay Culkin portrays convicted murderer Michael Alig, a pioneer of the New York City rave scene that popped up during the late 1980s. Alig also created the 'Club Kids'-- a sensational group of young party-goers who took the country by a storm after making appearances on daytime talk shows like  The Phil Donahue Show.  The group also prominently featured James St. James, portrayed by Seth Green in   this 2003 cult classic.

Party Monster chronicles the rise and fall of Alig, beginning with his failed attempts at throwing parties, and ending with his arrest for the killing and dismemberment of his roommate and drug dealer,  fellow 'Club Kids' member Andre "Angel" Melendez, after Alig recklessly joked about the murder during one of his TV appearances. The movie features heavy drug usage and is one of the only films to mention ketamine, a dissociative tranquilizer popular amongst rave culture.

Pineapple Express (2008)

After the wildly popular success of his roles in The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005) and  Knocked Up (2007), Seth Rogen teams up with Judd Apatow and Adam Goldberg to write this hilarious stoner comedy, which became an instant cult-classic just through watching its trailer!  Pineapple Express features process server Dale Denton (Rogen), a run-of-the-mill stoner who finds himself in a pickle after witnessing a murder alongside his half-baked drug-dealer Saul (James Franco).

After the pair accidentally drop a roach of the remarkably rare marijuana strain, ' Pineapple Express ', at the murder scene, they realize the illustrious joint can be directly traced back to them, which leads to an action-packed wild goose chase as drug lord (Gary Cole) and crooked cop (Rosie Perez) stay hot on their trail.  Pineapple Express is the ultimate stoner movie and the perfect representation for this list.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

Based on the critically acclaimed novel by Hunter S. Thompson,  Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas features lead Johnny Depp, also the main star in Blow (2001), the inspiration for this list! Irreverant sports journalist Raoul Duke (Depp) and his Samoan attorney Dr. Gonzo (Benicio Del Toro) traverse the Mojave desert in a red convertible to cover a motorcycle race in Las Vegas.

After spending his advance on a suitcase of drugs, Duke and his attorney spiral out of control through multiple drug binges during their psychedelic pursuit of finding the 'American Dream', with police, hitchhikers, gamblers, and other zany characters detouring their final destination. The film features a plethora of drugs, with a focus on psychedelics like LSD and mescaline.

Thirteen (2003)

This disturbing indie-film provided Evan Rachel Wood with her breakout role as Tracy Freeland, the goody-two-shoes honor student who ingratiates herself with the wrong crowd. Influenced by her popular and promiscuous classmate, Evie Zamora (Nikki Reed), Tracy ditches her innocent best friend (Vanessa Hudgens) and protests the help or advice of her mother (Holly Hunter).

RELATED:  Narcos: 10 Real-Life Stories About The Illegal Drug Trade That Could Work As A Narcos Spin-Off

Following Evie's lead, Tracy begins to steal, use drugs, and engage in risky sexual practices. At just thirteen years old, viewers were particularly disturbed with the opening scene, featuring Tracy and Evie huffing Dust-Off and punching each other in the face after being numbed from the drug. Nikki Reed co-wrote the movie  at fifteen, building off her own encounters and misdirections.

Requiem for a Dream (2000)

Following the lives of four intertwined drug-addicts,  Requiem For a Dream emphasizes a no-holds-barred approach and features some truly disturbing scenes. Retired widow Sarah Goldfarb (Ellen Burstyn) lives a delusional, dreary existence as she wastes her days watching a daytime talk show, slowly becoming reliant upon her diet pills. Her son, Harry Goldfarb (Jared Leto) becomes increasingly addicted to heroin alongside his drug accomplice Tyrone (Marlon Wayans) and girlfriend Marion (Jennifer Connelly).

As the movie switches narrative between the four different addicts, their situations become darker and darker, leading to the eventual lobotomy Mrs. Goldfarb receives after being committed to a mental institution, and the sexual depravity revealed through Marion's desperate attempts to earn drug money. Though it's incredibly depressing, Requiem For a Dream does an excellent job paralleling illicit drugs to prescription drugs, revealing their eerily similar outcomes.

Trainspotting (1996)

One of the most popular heroin-based films,  Trainspotting  (originating from the self-titled book by author Irvine Welsh) always makes the cut when mentioning any drug-related movies. Main character Renton (Ewan McGregor) tries to navigate himself away from the drug-addled world he knows well in Edinburgh.

Renton's attempts at sobriety prove to be more difficult than originally anticipated, influenced by his addicted friends and the perpetual fascination and calming force using drugs brings him. A gritty, unadulterated look into junkies and their careless habits,  Trainspotting will always be one of the quintessential drug films.

Enter the Void (2009)

One of the less popular movies to make the cut,  Enter the Void  features quite a unique storyline! After being shot dead by police in the bathroom of a Tokyo nightclub, drug-dealer Oscar (Nathaniel Brown) transcends his spirit through a DMT trip, which chronicles his life-story alongside sister turned stripper (Paz de la Huerta), Linda.

RELATED:  The 10 Best Movies About Real Life Organized Crime, Ranked

Exposing past grievances and traumatic situations, Oscar's adventure through "the void" gives the audience a deep dive into how this pair of siblings ended up in the underbelly of Tokyo's dark night scene, relinquishing the power he once enjoyed.

Spun (2002)

This underrated meth-centric film features a star-studded cast, including Brittany Murphy, Mickey Rourke, and Jason Schwartzman. Set over a three-day span in the life of drug user Ross (Schwartzman),  Spun focuses on very realistic details, bringing meth mentality and overt paranoia to life. Ross meets fellow druggie Nikki (Murphy) through his dealer, Spider Mike (John Leguizamo), who promises a better score through "The Cook" (Rourke), Nikki's meth-chemist boyfriend.

Spun features some more-than-abrasive scenes involving an ultra-realistic drug psychosis, duct-taping the mouth of a stripper shut as she's handcuffed (and subsequently forgotten for the entire three days) to Ross' bed, and Mena Suvari's portrayal of Cookie, Spider Mike's demented girlfriend.

Kids (1995)

Another cult-classic written by Harmony Korine, known for Spring Breakers (2012) and Gummo (1997), the movie Kids  is frequently mentioned as a cautionary tale. Chloë Sevigny and Rosario Dawson both made their film debut in Kids,  which launched them into further successes. The film highlights a day in the life of teenage skateboarders in New York City, as they smoke, bash in the skull of a rival skater, and de-flower virgins.

Though the movie is best known for its HIV-positive outcome, Kids also exhibits drug usage, particularly when Chloë Sevigny's character Jennie takes a random pill from a raver who says the mysterious drug will "make Special K look weak." Kids was controversially given an NC-17 rating by the MPAA, which was later surrendered .

Limitless (2011)

Fans of the novel  Flowers for Algernon  will love Limitless . After struggling writer Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) takes an ambiguous, seemingly cure-all pill 'NZT ', which enables 100% of the user's brain capacity, he finds himself losing control and needing more of the power-drug to live up to his newfound potential.

Through a continuous downward spiral and complete misdirection from Eddie's original intent,  Limitless  explores the concept that the grass isn't always greener on the other side.

A Scanner Darkly (2006)

This Keanu Reeves movie features interpolated rotoscope, an animation technique where animators trace over live-action footage, an unusual style adding to the occultism of A Scanner Darkly .

Living in a dystopian, totalitarian society that's lost the war on drugs, undercover agent Bob Arctor (Reeves) begins to take 'Substance D', the crippling new hallucinogen and loses touch with reality.

NEXT:  10 Most Dangerous Fake Drugs in Movies

20 best movies about drugs

The only way is up.

Movies about drugs feature highs, lows, hallucinations and more. What should be a regular road trip suddenly becomes a pumped up thrill ride. What should be a boring high school is secretly full of the wildest twists and turns. What should be... Well, you see where we're going with this.

Many a movie has been made about the harsh realities of drug taking, but there are also a few light-hearted films, which see the protagonist ride off into the sunset on their joint smoking journey. Drug-fuelled films can be fun or frightening, scary or silly. Either way, add some pills, marijuana or narcotics and you have the recipe for some seriously addictive viewing. Here's 20 of the best drug-related movies to give you a legal high.

20. Blow (2001)

Blow is the dramatic true depiction of American cocaine smuggler George Jung, played by Hollywood A-lister Johnny Depp. Jung's marijuana dealings landed him in prison but soon after his release, he started trafficking cocaine from Colombia into the United States. Depp's Jung is a suave son of a bitch who gets the goods and the girls, but eventually meets his incarcerated fate. Its hard not to like his villain of the piece.

19. Candy (2006)

The late Heath Ledger and fellow Aussie Abbie Cornish star in this intoxicating tale of addiction and love. Split into three acts, the film documents the couples affair, as they experience the ecstasy of drugs and the agony that follows, including a tragic miscarriage. Writer and director Neil Armfield suggests that loving someone under the influence is a concoction for disaster, so if you're a fan of doomed romances give this one a whirl.

18. Pusher (1996)

Drives Nicolas Winding Refn directs this Danish thriller about a desperate drug dealers disastrous attempts to drum up the cash he owes his bosses. Hannibals Mads Mikkelsen plays second fiddle to Kim Bodnia as his sidekick in the drug deal gone wrong. Winding Refn's ruthless style of film-making is a suitable fit with the subject matter, which is engrossing from start to finish.

17. Human Traffic (1999)

Stocked with familiar UK talent, including now soap star and former B-movie maestro Danny Dyer, Human Traffic is a raucous ride on the wild side. Narrated by John Simms, the audience is invited into the small world of five ravers who embark on a pill popping bender in Cardiff for the weekend. This cuss-filled comedy is part of a series of in-your-face films by the likes of Guy Ritchie and Danny Boyle, which have become a genre in their own right.

16. The Panic in Needle Park (1971)

This is the sobering story of a young woman who falls in love with a deadbeat drug dealer, who is living New York's infamous 'Needle Park'. In his second outing, Al Pacino shows early signs of brilliance in a hard-hitting role that would ready him for his iconic part in The Godfather . Director Jerry Schatzberg's documentary style of filming gives audiences a sense of gritty realism which, combined with its stellar performances, make this movie a must-see.

15. Maria Full of Grace (2004)

When a 17-year-old Colombian pregnant girl finds herself penniless, she signs up as a mule to smuggle drugs into the United States. Maria lvarez swallows a large packet of pills in exchange for money knowing that the merchandise could burst inside her at any second. With both her and the baby's lives on the line the stakes are extremely high and the situation is intense. If you can handle the pressure then this nailbiter is the one for you.

14. Enter the Void (2009)

Enter the Void is a voyeuristic spectacle in which an American drug dealer observes a series of events after his death. After being shot by police in Tokyo, Oscar has an out of body experience, hovering on the edge of reality, spinning uncontrollably into several settings; one of which includes a psychedelic vagina. Gaspar Nos visually seductive story is enthralling to watch and just when you think things couldn't get any stranger, they take an even weirder turn.

13. Christiane F. (1981)

This is the unravelling and unnerving true story of a German actress and musician who became hooked on heroin at a very young age. Christiane Vera Felscherinow's traumatic childhood - which consisted of abuse, drug addiction and prostitution - was documented in an autobiographical book and later in a movie starring Natja Brunckhorst. Accompanied by a David Bowie soundtrack, this low budget film leaves no needle unturned with its shocking sights.

12. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

Director Terry Gilliam's psychedelic adaptation of the novel by Hunter S. Thompson is a mind-altering journey, that will leave you feeling bewildered and bemused. Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro jump in a convertible and make their way across the Nevada desert to Las Vegas, picking up a stranger and some very bad habits along the way. Gilliams trademark off the wall weirdness perfectly complements Depp and Del Toros loud and unleashed performances.

11. Easy Rider (1969)

Easy Rider is a road trippin ride that follows Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper as they journey across the States, with some serious cash in their back pocket from a drug smuggle across the Mexican border. The pair are later given a helping hand by Jack Nicholson who joins them on their half-baked bike ride to New Orleans. Hopper, who also directed the picture, decided to include shots of real drugs to give the film a dose of authenticity.

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The Most Devastating Films About Substance Use

These films present substance use disorder (SUD) in stark, painful, but artistic ways that reveal the often devastating effects of drugs.

Whether we like it or not, drugs are a part of everyday life in most of the world. The drug trade can make one rich beyond one’s wildest dreams, but also places the drug users and dealers in great physical jeopardy and can ruin lives. It should be no surprise that there are literally hundreds if not thousands of films dealing with drug and alcohol use. While some films like D azed and Confused , Friday, and most of Seth Rogen’s work glorifies casual drug use, the films in this list all show the darker, deadlier side of drug dealing and drug abuse . Terms like 'addict' and 'addiction' are now considered to be stigmatizing and discriminative (and have been replaced with de-stigmatizing language like 'substance use disorder'); no matter the language, however, these are the most powerful and devastating films about drug use.

11 Last Days Here

Last Days Here is a documentary about the 1970s metal band Pentagram . The documentary focuses on the desperate life of the band’s disturbed singer, Bobby Liebling, who is a crack and heroin user who lives in his parents’ sub-basement and relies on them to get through the day. Heroin releases histamines which causes the skin to itch, and cocaine abuse can cause users to believe they are crawling with bugs that are hiding under the skin. Because of this, the lead singer is constantly scratching himself, digging holes in his skin, in a frantic search for non-existent bugs.

The documentary’s big reveal comes when he rolls his sleeve up, and we see that he has dug a gigantic hole in his arm big enough to fit a fist into. It is utterly disgusting and a total tragedy, stronger than any PSA. Although he is known to some as a rock and roll star , we learn the truth, that he is a sad person who lives with and depends on his parents, and who causes disgusting harm to his body due to his substance use disorder (SUD), which eventually kills his career and is the reason that Pentagram are not a very well known band, despite a great metal sound. A nasty documentary about the tragedy of hard drug abuse.

10 Killing Zoe

Killing Zoe is a drugged-out bank robbery film starring Eric Stoltz (the heroin dealer in Pulp Fiction ) that takes place in France. Stoltz is lured to Paris where he hangs out with his SUD pals as they plan a robbery - but this is like no bank robbery in film history. The lead bank robber, played by Jean-Hughes Anglade, is dying from AIDS and has no intention of actually stealing any money. He just wants to go out with a bang, killing as many people as possible.

In an astounding scene, in the middle of a bloody, deadly bank robbery, Anglade takes a bathroom break, so he can inject himself with heroin. At this point we can figure out that the bank robbery was never meant to succeed. Stoltz finds his loyalty questioned as he must decide what to do when he realizes the robbery is just an excuse for a massacre, and that he has had sexual relations with Zoe (Julie Delpy), a prostitute who works at the bank he is robbing. Written and directed by Roger Avary, who won an Oscar for co-writing Pulp Fiction with Quentin Tarantino.

9 Enter the Void

Enter the Void is an extremely controversial French film from renegade director Gaspar Noe ( Irreversible , I Stand Alone ). Drugs used, shown and discussed in this film include pills, alcohol, LSD, DMT, cocaine, GHB, marijuana, ice, heroin, and more. Featuring bright flashing lights and a hyperkinetic, psychedelic style, the film is nearly seizure-inducing and attempts to be a perfect representation of an acid trip. Besides drugs and murder, the art film is a provocation that deals with a whole host of adult themes like abortion, sexuality, incest, infidelity, conception, car accidents, and stripping. It's not for the faint of heart.

The camerawork is brilliant, and most of the shots are filmed from either high up or right behind the head of protagonist Oscar (Nathaniel Brown), so that he stars in the film, yet we rarely see his face; this is meant to mimic an out-of-body experience. The film takes place in Tokyo, primarily on the street, in sex clubs, and at the apartments of drug dealers. Like most Noe films, there is a nihilistic feel to Enter the Void that is a powerful warning against the dangers of an illegal drug lifestyle, which can lead to devastation, death, and sexual exploitation. Everything about this film is avant-garde and stunningly original, and it is a mesmerizing and hallucinatory masterpiece.

8 The Falcon and The Snowman

The Falcon and The Snowman is the true story of a high-level military contractor with access to national security matters, and his partner with SUD who sells secrets to the Soviet Union. Sean Penn plays Timothy Hutton's sleazy partner, whose heroin use spirals out of control; when Hutton catches Penn snorting it, Penn lies, arguing that he's ‘just using cocaine.' It's pretty bad when your cover-up lie is still an illegal activity.

Things get disastrous for the two when they visit the Russian embassy in Mexico, where Penn tries to make a heroin deal with scary KGB agents who don’t take too well to Penn and his addiction. As is the case of many drug films, users lose control and clear heads, forcing them to make terrible and dangerous decisions. The Falcon and The Snowman is one of Penn’s best performances as a fast-talking criminal with SUD.

Related: These Are Sean Penn's Best Movies, Ranked

Scarface , written by Oliver Stone and directed by Brian De Palma, is the ultimate cocaine movie. It is a remake of the classic 1932 gangster film of the same name, but couldn't be any more different. At first glance the film seems to glorify the cocaine trade, but a closer watch reveals the devastation caused by drug use. Al Pacino plays Tony Montana, a criminal psychopath from Cuba, who works his way up the drug dealing world until he has a massive cocaine empire. Pacino’s epic performance as a small-time criminal who moves to the top of the drug world and gets increasingly hooked on cocaine is simply impossible to ignore. Pacino doesn’t play Tony Montana as much as he transforms himself into the character.

Tony Montana makes the enormous mistake of breaking the one key rule for high level drug dealers, which is ‘don’t get high on your own supply.’ In one infamous scene, he snorts from a mountain of cocaine the size of a watermelon. His massive cocaine use totally alters his judgment and drives him mad with rage and jealousy, killing those closest to him, and making fatal mistakes. Ironically, it's a nearly canonical film for gangsters everywhere, despite depicting the epic downfall and destruction of its antihero . One wonders if director Luca Guadagnino will do the same in his upcoming remake .

6 The Salton Sea

In The Salton Sea , a terrifying portrayal of crystal meth, Val Kilmer plays an undercover agent infiltrating the crystal meth community, trying to solve a personal tragedy. The real stand out in the film, though, is Vincent D’Onofrio, who is absolutely terrifying as he re-enacts the assassination of JFK with pigeons and engages in other bizarre activities after injecting crystal meth. A man who has a fake nose because he destroyed it from snorting too much meth, and looks and sounds terrifying, this is one of the actor’s best roles.

5 Carlito’s Way

In this follow up to Scarface , director Brian De Palma and star Al Pacino again team up for another story dealing with cocaine, Carlito's Way . Unlike in Scarface , Pacino is not the person with a dangerous SUD with cocaine. Instead, it is his lawyer, Sean Penn (again), who has a cocaine habit that degenerates to the point that he becomes a dangerous and unstable individual, committing violent acts and ultimately losing out because of terrible, cocaine-influenced decisions he chooses which make him a liability. Sean Penn’s transformation to a cocaine addict is brilliantly done.

Related: Ridley Scott's Gucci Movie Lines Up A-List Cast with Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino and More

4 A Scanner Darkly

Keanu Reeves stars in A Scanner Darkly , based on the infamous book by Philip K Dick, whose visionary stories were the basis for films like Minority Report , Blade Runner and the series The Man in the High Castle . Reeves plays an undercover cop taking Substance D (D is for Death), a drug that is taking over future America. In addition to having a SUD, he is also unknowingly tracking himself in his own police investigation. Substance D causes a split in the user’s brain so that one man can literally be following himself and his own actions without knowing it. His wild friends (including a brilliantly manic Robert Downey Jr. and a fun Woody Harrelson) are all also deep into using Substance D, with Rory Cochrane seeing bugs everywhere, especially in his own body and hair. It's a brilliant film that uses rotoscoping to solidify its hallucinogenic visuals.

3 Drugstore Cowboy

Matt Dillon leads a small group of drug users who resort to stealing from pharmacies to get powerful painkillers in Gus Van Sant's Drugstore Cowboy . Dillon’s girlfriend (Kelly Lynch) is sexually unsatisfied because his opiate use has killed his libido and made him essentially asexual. Things get worse for the group, and at one point they rent a hotel room in a hotel full of police who were there for a major conference. This terrifies the gang, who escape into a series of adventures and meet a mix of odd characters along the way, the most memorable being a cameo by the famous writer and heroin user William S Burroughs. Things start going south for Matt Dillon and his crew after a drug tragedy strikes, and he tries to get clean. Drugstore Cowboy is a gritty and realistic look at the lives of a group of criminals with SUD in the 1970s.

The fact that Bug is about crystal meth and amphetamine psychosis is heavily down-played and subtle, and is hidden beneath metaphors and imagery. We only really learn that the two characters, played incredibly by Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon, are smoking crystal meth when a mysterious man enters their bizarre hotel room and takes a hit from a meth pipe, explaining to Judd that Shannon is a mental patient. Their mental health condition as a result of their use of speed leads them to sink deeper and deeper into paranoid psychosis, imaginary bugs infecting them and infesting their world as a result. The ending is one of the most disturbing, surprising, devastating, and unforgettable scenes in film history. Bug is a brilliant movie about psychosis and paranoia from a late-career William Friedkin, director of The Exorcist and The French Connection .

1 The French Connection II

The French Connection II is unlike any other drug film because the user gets involuntarily addicted to heroin as revenge. American cop Popeye Doyle (Gene Hackman) travels to France to hunt down a heroin dealer, Fernando Rey, in this gritty film from John Frankenheimer ( The Manchurian Candidate ). He is abducted by a drug gang and imprisoned, and they start injecting him with heroin on a regular basis. At first, he fights it, but as time goes on he develops a SUD, eagerly awaiting his next fix. The transformation is an incredibly powerful indictment of the addictive nature of heroin. When the drug dealers are done with Hackman, they dump him in front of a police station as a message. Now a free man, he has to undergo cold turkey heroin withdrawal. He is so sick that he does everything possible to resist getting clean and going through dope sickness. Once clean, however, Popeye Doyle is on a mission for revenge in this underrated sequel to The French Connection .

good movies about drugs

The Best Drug Movies of All Time

Ranker Film

What are the top movies about drugs? When it comes to making a story "edgy," drugs are the weapon of choice in popular cinema. Be it pot movies, cocaine movies, heroin films or any other type of drug, Hollywood has made a movie about it. This is a list of the best drug movies of all time, including good films about drug dealers, drug traffickers, drug use, and drug abuse. It may not be all the drug films ever made, but these are the greatest. Vote for your favorite drug movie, or use this list to find movies like  Blow .

Some of the stars of the drug movies below even have their own celebrity cannabis brands , like Seth Rogen of Pineapple Express .  For other interesting movie lists check out the cult movies , psychological thriller movies , college movies , and epic movie list.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

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Requiem for a Dream

Requiem for a Dream

Pulp Fiction

Pulp Fiction

Dazed and Confused

Dazed and Confused

The Wolf of Wall Street

The Wolf of Wall Street

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The Top 15 Drug Movies Of All Time (2021 Update)

Adam Parsons

There is something riveting about watching drug-related movies, whether it's a tale of corrupt cops looking to benefit, or an emotional and visually stunning story about addiction. They can be light-hearted, or deadly serious, but drugs are a central theme in modern cinema either way. With that being said, we think these are the best in the genre.

Are you looking for an entertaining and intriguing tale for a drug-themed movie night? Whether you're just looking for one, or enough to fill up your next two weeks, we've got you covered! Some offer laughs, others will bring you to tears, and many will have you on the edge of your seat. Either way, we think they're classics, and we're honored to introduce you to them.

From underground cult classics to the Hollywood blockbuster, drugs have long been a recurring theme in movies. They, more or less, are part of their own unique genre. Some glamourise the effects of drugs and the lifestyle of addicts, while others don't hold back on portraying the unflattering reality. However the film is made, or whichever approach they've taken, they can be entertaining and thought-provoking. With that in mind, in no particular order, we've put together our top 15 picks of drug movies we think you should check out.

1. Waking Life

If you're looking for a trippy tale, look no further than Waking Life. This highly stylised movie centres around an unnamed protagonist who we find dealing with an existential crisis. While this sounds fairly plain at first, the story offers interesting perspectives and different philosophies on life throughout, making for a perfect substitute for those late-night high conversations.

It also boasts an engaging art style, utilizing rotoscoping to make the live-action-character appear hand-drawn. There's certainly plenty to experience visually, as well as inwardly, with Waking Life.

2. Easy Rider

Seen as one of the quintessential American movies, Easy Rider stars Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper as Wyatt and Billy, respectively. The film tells the story of their road trip from Los Angeles to New Orleans after smuggling drugs from Mexico. The ensuing tale shows all their lows and highs (and believe us, there are plenty of highs).

From the depictions of marijuana and LSD use, to the core of the plot, drugs are the foundation of Wyatt and Billy's story. They find themselves in some tricky situations as a result, and they ensure it’s gripping from start to finish. With all that, plus a 60s soundtrack that holds up to this day, we recommend you don't miss out on Easy Rider.

3. A Scanner Darkly

From the mind of prolific science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, A Scanner Darkly tells a story of America in the near future. Having lost the “war on drugs,” the movie shows both sides of drug use, as well as those that attempt to curb it.

Bob Arctor (played by Keanu Reeves) finds himself in the middle. As an undercover agent tasked with finding the supplier of a mysterious drug called “Substance D”, Arctor treads the line between his mission and dealing with being an addict himself. It’s visually impressive, too, using a similar rotoscoping technique as Waking Life. So, while we could describe it all day, A Scanner Darkly is a movie that has to be seen to be believed.

Spun is a dark comedy that focuses on a group involved in a methamphetamine drug ring. The ensuing story is a strange experience, showing the dangers of all involved, from the people responsible for making the drugs, the dealers, and those that use them.

While hard-hitting and visceral in places, there is also some quality dark humour to be found here. With a soundtrack of some of the best metal bands (there's even a cameo from Judas Priest's frontman Rob Halford), Spun offers a thrilling, non-stop cautionary tale.

5. The Wolf of Wall Street

Based on the memoir by Jordan Belfort, The Wolf of Wall Street is the shocking semi-true story of excess, drugs and stockbroking in the late 1980s. With a fantastic cast (Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, and Margot Robbie) led by legendary director Martin Scorsese, you know you're in for a great movie before it's even started.

Sit back for the 179-minute runtime and watch Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) as he rises from being a no-name junior stockbroker to the head of the shady Stratton Oakmont brokerage. The Wolf of Wall Street is a rise and fall story like no other; It's hilarious from start to finish, and, if you ask us, completely unforgettable.

6. Limitless

In Limitless, Bradley Cooper plays Eddie Morra, a struggling writer who is frustrated by his life. That is, of course, until he is introduced to the new drug “NZT-48," a pill that can unlock all of the hidden potential in his brain. This allows him to become “limitless” in his intelligence and ambitions. While everything seems much better for Eddie on the surface, the reality is not what it seems, and his struggles escalate beyond belief. A fascinating science fiction thriller, Limitless subverts expectations to offer a gripping and memorable experience.

7. Trainspotting

If there was ever an advert to show the effects and the unglamorous lifestyle of heroin addiction, Trainspotting would be it. Based on the book of the same name by Irvine Welsh, this is a visceral movie that tells the story of addict Mark Renton (played by Ewan McGregor). It’s set in 1990s Edinburgh, Scotland, and follows Mark's numerous attempts to become clean.

Things are not that easy though. With some truly striking moments, Trainspotting has become one of the most popular drug movies in history.

8. Training Day

A multi-award-winning movie, Training Day follows the story of narcotics detective Alonzo Harris (played by Denzel Washington) and his task of evaluating officer Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke).

The result blurs the lines between law and crime, as it becomes clear Alonzo is a reckless and corrupt cop who’s heavily involved with the Russian Mafia and local street gangs. He manipulates and blackmails Jake throughout, driving him further to the edge with every moment. If you love action-packed crime stories, this is nothing short of a must-watch.

Depicting the “war” aspect of the war on drugs , Sicario is an action-packed movie that focuses on a government task force's efforts to fight Mexican drug cartels. They enlist FBI agent Kate Macer (played by Emily Blunt), who learns that the government's methods are not exactly legal.

This is confirmed when they bring in the mysterious and foreboding Alejandro Gillick (Benicio del Toro). See, Alejandro has a history with the cartel and may have some ulterior motives for his involvement. As it all comes together, it offers some amazing bits of action coupled with some claustrophobic and often brutal scenes.

10. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Seen by many as the ultimate drug movie, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is based on the semi-autobiographical book of the same name by acclaimed author, Hunter S. Thompson, and directed by Terry Gilliam. The iconic story follows a road trip taken by journalist Raoul Duke and his lawyer Dr. Gonzo. Aided by some intense psychedelic drugs, there are some truly trippy scenes and hilarious moments to be found throughout. Thought-provoking at times, but always bizarre, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a film that demands your attention.

11. City of God

City of God is a no-holds-barred, and often brutal, story set in Rio de Janeiro. Spanning several decades, the movie shows a group of friends rising to power from their beginnings as petty street criminals. While some movies look to glamourise the use of drugs and the crime syndicates behind them, City of God shows an unflinching illustration of life in the favelas during these times. Gang warfare, police corruption and drug cartels are a consistent presence, making for a captivating viewing that will stay with you long after the credits roll.

12. Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

Guy Ritchie's major directorial debut, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels is the quintessential British crime movie. After losing a rigged card game, Eddie must come up with £500,000 to cover his losses. He and his friends hatch a plan to try and rob their criminal neighbours after overhearing they have acquired a large quantity of cannabis.

Related article Top 15 Stoner Movies Of All Times

Of course, as you could suspect, not everything goes to plan, and there are hilarious scenes that ensue. These are also offset with some nail-biting tense moments—all making for a movie that is considered to be a true classic.

13. Pulp Fiction

After the release of Quentin Tarantino's debut, Reservoir Dogs, the world was wondering what this critically acclaimed director would do next. Just a few years later, Pulp Fiction arrived.

This is a non-linear movie that plays with your expectations of what a crime movie should be. Sharp humor is offered in spades, but there are also many unforgettably intense scenes, including an overdose depiction that perfectly captures the panic and regret of the moment. No matter what it’s discussing, the film pulls absolutely no punches.

Considering all this, it’s no wonder that university dorm rooms across the world have Pulp Fiction posters hung up on the walls.

14. Scarface

As screenwriter Oliver Stone's “farewell love letter” to his cocaine addiction, Scarface is a remake of the 1932 movie of the same name. In case you’ve somehow missed out, the movie follows Cuban refugee Tony Montana's rise to the top.

As the film progresses, you can see his use of cocaine ultimately undermines his hunger for power and success. With plenty of on-screen violence and drug use (apparently powdered milk was used as a substitute), it all culminates in one of the wildest showdown scenes ever filmed. Scarface, as a result of the gripping subject matter and near-perfect execution, has retained its cult classic status and prestige for decades.

15. Requiem for a Dream

Requiem for a Dream is an unwavering look at addiction and the circumstances that surround it. Each character has unique personalities, aspirations, and dreams, making their harrowing story of heroin dependency and downward spiraling far more potent.

Depicting incarceration, prostitution, and everything in between, it’s clear the director and writers refused to hold back in presenting the subject matter. With an impressive cast (including Jared Leto), Requiem for a Dream is seen as one of the most depressing yet thought-provoking movies ever made.

So now you know what to watch, but now you’re probably wondering what to smoke during the movie. Keeping that in mind, we've put together a short guide that will show you which one to pick for each genre . It’s all subjective, of course, but we think these specific pairings are worth your consideration.

Girl Scout Cookies

Girl Scout Cookies (Zamnesia Seeds)

If you're looking for a full-body, cerebral high that will complement any movie night, look no further than Girl Scout Cookies . There's no need to stock up on sweet treats and popcorn, as this strain features earthy sweet flavors and aromas that’ll offer pure bliss.

Coupled with an average of 23% THC, this indica-dominant strain will offer a relaxing high that won't put you to sleep. So you can sit back, sink into your chair and enjoy the movie. Sounds like a perfect combination to us.

White Widow

White Widow (Zamnesia Seeds)

Seen as one of the most famous strains around, we couldn't make this list without White Widow . This sativa/indica hybrid strain comes highly recommended from us, along with all those that try her. With a refreshing pine and citrus flavour and aroma, along with an average THC content of 18%, White Widow offers a delicious and soothing experience.

But take it easy with her! Despite the sub-20% THC content, she can pack a punch that can knock you out if you aren’t careful. Just take a few hits and make sure you’re awake for the end of the movie!

Purple Kush

Purple Kush (Kannabia)

Not just beautiful to look at, Purple Kush is an indica-dominant strain with effects that’re just as striking as her looks.

Starting with her subtle, sweet and herbal aroma and flavours, she is sure to put a smile on your face. That smile will only grow wider as you feel the full soothing sensation of her 22% THC nugs. All that goodness is wrapped together in each powerful hit, perfect for indulging while you put your favourite movie on.

Dim the lights, light up your favourite flower, and enjoy your movie night!

Adam Parsons


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Table of contents

Address Just Amazing BV

Best Drug Movies You Can't Miss

22 Best Drug Movies You Can’t Miss

Asides learning, most people derive a lot of excitement from seeing drug movies. Whichever category you fall into, here are some of the best drug movies you should see.

1. The French Connection (1971)

The French Connection(1971)

Director : William Friedkin

Based on the book The French Connection by Robin  Moore in 1969, the movie is considered one of the best movies to have won over five awards in the 44th Academy Award. It has repeatedly appeared on the list of the best movies in America.

The storyline bothers on the life of a narcotics drug lord, Charnier. He deals with heroin smuggling while on the trail of two police officers, detective Jimmy ‘popeye’ and detective buddy ‘cloudy.’ He smuggles heroin into the country through his ignorant friend’s car, Henri Devereaux.

The police, however, discover this secret and trail the car after Nicoli(chenier’s hitman) fails in his attempt to kill popeye. The car is trailed to Chanier’s old factory, where the police almost catch up with him. Check the official trailer to glimpse exciting moments in the movie.

2. Blow (2001)


Director : Ted Demme

Stars : Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz, Franka Potente

The movie recounts the life of a young boy, George (Jesse James), whose father lost his job leading to his(George) desperate search for money. He gets involved in drug dealing and cocaine importation. They form a group of friends, Barbara, a flight attendant, Tuna, and George(now Johnny Deep).

After a few years of drug dealing, George is arrested by police and sentenced to two years in prison. The death of Barbara, however, breaks the friendship link. He meets another drug dealer in prison who introduces him to Diego, a drug lord. Upon connecting Diego and Derek( a former associate), they cut ties with him.

After the birth of his daughter, he becomes a good man but is turned in by his wife after a fight. The FBI later catches him after a planned drug deal by Derek and Diego. The official trailer contains events that will keep your mouth wide open with amazement.

3. The Basketball Diaries (1995)

The Basketball Diaries(1995)

Director : Scott Kalvert

Stars : Leonardo DiCaprio, Lorraine Bracco, Marilyn Sokol

He and his cohorts are suspended from school and the basketball team after being caught dealing with drugs. Jim, Mickey, and Pedro drop out of school while Neutron stays to become a better person. Jim is sent away from his mom’s house. He, therefore, turns to the streets and steals to fund his increasing drug habit.

Pedro is caught on one of their missions, after which Neutron is also arrested for killing a drug dealer. The police later arrest Jim after his mum reports him. He stays in rehab and becomes clean. See the official trailer to see Leonardo Dicaprio’s exciting action in this blockbuster.

4. The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996)

The People vs. Larry Flynt(1996)

Director : Milos Forman

Stars : Woody Harrelson, Courtney Love, Edward Norton

The official trailer alone is enough to keep you hooked to the movie. Though the movie did not generate much revenue, many believe it to be one of Woody Harrelson’s best movies.  Dealing with pornographic and nude posts on magazines, Flynt is charged to court and faced with the hatred of anti-pornographic advocates.

He later gets influenced into giving his life to Christ, after which he gets shot and paralyzed from his waist downwards. He denounces God and turns to painkillers and drugs. Flynt is later sued in court for libel and emotional stress and convicted for emotional distress.

5. Beautiful Boy 1 (2018)

Beautiful Boy 1(2018)

Director : Felix van Groeningen

Stars : Steve Carell, Maura Tierney, Jack Dylan Grazer

Nic is a drug addict who has failed multiple times to be clean. He was first discovered by his father when he ran off from home for a few days. He was sent to rehab, where he stopped drug abuse for a while. However, he meets with other drug addicts when he goes to college, and they purchase heroin together.

His father reads through his diary and discovers his addiction history. After this encounter, his father sends him to his ex-wife and Nic’s mother, where he goes to classes and later helps other addicts.

He faces his addictive lifestyle when he returns to his father and fights back not to return to his former lifestyle. See the official trailer to enjoy the thrill of how this young man fights against his addiction.

6. City of God (2002)

City of God(2002)

Director : Fernando Meirelles, Kátia Lund

Stars : Alexandre Rodrigues, Leandro Firmino, Matheus Nachtergaele

The city of God is a black movie about two boys. Seeing the official trailer will make you understand why this movie has been nominated for about four Academy Awards. After a failed robbery attempt, Li’l Dice becomes a drug dealer, while Rocket becomes a photographer.

He is later arrested by the police but is released after bribing them. Unknown to them, the rocket takes pictures and reasons on whether to release it to the press or not. He, however, decides to publish the photo of Lil ze dead body instead.

7. Pain and Glory (2019)

Pain and Glory(2019)

Director : Pedro Almodóvar

Stars : Antonio Banderas, Asier Etxeandia, Leonardo Sbaraglia

Suffering from dysphagia, Salvador resolves to pop pills to ease his pain. After meeting his old lover, he sets aside the use of heroin and sees the doctor manage his pain.

8. Pineapple Express (2008)

Pineapple Express(2008)

Director : David Gordon Green

Stars : Seth Rogen, James Franco, Gary Cole

The official trailer will show you the difference between this movie and the others. It is a comical movie with a serious plot. It features Dale Dalton, who witnesses a murder by a policeman, Brazier, and is now being trailed by Ted Jones through his drug, pineapple express.

The drug can be purchased from only two drug dealers, one of which is Dale’s friend. In their process of selling pineapple express for money, they are arrested by Bobbie. The killers later catch up with Dale and his friend, Saul. A shootout by a Korean gangster saves their lives but kills a few of their loved ones.

9. Requiem for a Dream (2000)

Requiem for a Dream(2000)

Director : Darren Aronofsky

Stars : Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly

A single mother, Sara, nursing a heroin addict son, and two of his friends jump on the train of drug abuse as well. She sees her doctor prescribe a weight loss drug for her to fit into a dress for a television show. As the time nears, she begins to overdose on amphetamines, which makes her develop stimulant psychosis.

On the other hand, her son develops gangrene on his hands and is arrested after visiting a doctor. See the official trailer to experience the pitiful life of both mother and son.

10. Carlito’sWay (1993)


Director : Brian De Palma

Stars : Al Pacino, Sean Penn, Penelope Ann Miller

Carlito, an ex-convict, pledges to stay away from drug use and violence after being released from prison before completing his sentence. He is involved in a drug shootout deal not long after, where he gets away with his dead cousin’s $30,000.

After opening a nightclub, his determination to escape crime is altered, and he gets involved in unintentional murder cases. The official trailer will give you some insight into this action movie.

11. American Gangster (2007)

American Gangster(2007)

Director : Ridley Scott

Stars : Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Chiwetel Ejiofor

The official trailer of American Gangster depicts the action of drug lords just like every other movie. The right-Hand man Frank begins a drug Lord himself after the death of his boss in 1968. He directly ships in the heroin, which he calls Blue Magic.

People start to purchase a lot from him due to his lower price, which enables him to become one of the greatest drug lords in the US. He ships drugs from Thailand through dead servicemen and bribes about ⅓ of police officials.

Robert later investigates him after Roberts’s partner dies from an overdose. Even though he lived low profile, Roberts catches up with him after using many tactics.

12. Ferry (2021)


Director : Cecilia Verheyden

Stars : Frank Lammers, Elise Schaap, Huub Stapel

Many reviews show that although this movie is not a number like its continued series undercover, a peek at the official trailer indicates otherwise. It is a prequel to the Netflix series Undercover.’ It explains how the protagonist, Ferry, came to be and his love life.

The movie does not only contain action but love and the excessive use of drugs. Though not a thriller, the twists and suspense will keep you going.

13. El Camino (2019)

El Camino(2019)

Director : Vince Gilligan

Stars : Aaron Paul, Jonathan Banks, Matt Jones

Having received many positive reviews on its official trailer, El Camino has been nominated for many awards, including critics’ choice television awards. The movie is the aftermath story of Jesse Pinkman.

After the movie’s release, it had a total of 6.5 million views, making it part of the year’s most successful movie. The plot comes in line with meth-selling Jesse Pinkman and his rough life to becoming wealthy from drug sales.

14. Menace 11 society (1993)

Menace 11 society(1993)

Director : Albert Hughes, Allen Hughes

Stars : Tyrin Turner, Larenz Tate, June Kyoto Lu

The official trailer will leave you amazed at the life of gangster black teenagers. Caine and O-Dog buy liquor at a Korean shop. O-Dog kills the owner and steals the money after being insulted by the cashier. Caine talks about his drug dealer dad and his dead mother, who died from a heroin overdose.

The police begin to track the killers’ case and fail to connect Caine to the murder. His grandparents warn him about his gangster lifestyle and whether he cares about his life or not. But will it be too late for him to listen to them?

15. Synchronic (2019)

Synchronic (2019)

Director : Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead

Stars : Anthony Mackie, Jamie Dornan, Katie Aselton

A new hard substance, Synchronic, is created, leaving the town in a big dilemma. Many unresolved mystery deaths are found with no explanation. An investigation shows that these deaths are related to Synchronic, a drug that allows you to travel back in time. Brianna, Dennis’s daughter, is also stuck back in time after using the pill.

She is saved by Steve, her father’s colleague, after many attempts to travel back in time. The official trailer will leave you glued to the many exciting scenes of science fiction.

16. Shiny Flakes (2021)

Shiny Flakes(2021)

Director : Eva Müller, Michael Schmitt

This 97-minute movie is about a teenager of 19 years old who sells drugs online through his personally built website. The official trailer on Youtube is a documentary clip from Netflix and hints at the true story of one of the greatest drug crimes in Germany.

Maximilian launders over 4.1 million euros in the comfort of his bedroom. He orders drugs through the Darknet and packages them in his room while sending them to his anonymous buyers. He is later caught at age 20 after a detective traced 600 kilograms worth of imported cocaine to him.

17. Boogie Nights (1997)

Boogie Nights(1997)

Stars : Mark Wahlberg, Julianne Moore, Burt Reynolds

The official trailer portrays a movie centered on the joy, pain, struggles, action,  rise, and fall of Eddie Adams. He stars as a pornographic actor who makes a lot of money but is met with a bad fate after his involvement with cocaine. This ends his career abruptly, and he spends his life savings on cocaine.

Trying to amass wealth for a studio, he ends up in a gunfight after his failed attempt to sell baking soda to a drug lord, Jackson. In the gunfight, Todd, Eddie’s friend, loses his life, and they are all faced with the results of the life decision they make.

18. 21 Grams (2003)

21 Grams (2003)

Director : Alejandro G. Iñárritu

Stars : Sean Penn, Benicio Del Toro, Naomi Watts

Two drug addicts, Cristiana and Jack, strive to avoid their drug addiction. While Jack controls himself through his new religious belief, Cristiana finds peace and love in her family. They both live two different lives. Then, there’s Paul, who needs a new heart to continue living.

Jack kills Cristiana’s family in a hit-and-run incident. Driven by guilt, he returns to drugs. On the other hand, Cristiana has lost her hold and is left with drugs for consolation.

Her husband’s heart is donated to Paul. Their lives become intertwined. Will they overcome the drug addiction? See the official trailer to get some insights about the movie.

19. American Made (2017)

American Made(2017)

Director : Doug Liman

Stars : Tom Cruise, Domhnall Gleeson, Sarah Wright

Tom Cruise has always been known for his exceptional performance in movies. This movie does not prove his action, as he received more positive reviews. The story is set in the 1970s, telling the story of a pilot who gets involved in transporting cocaine for the Medellin Cartel.

He makes a lot of money and starts to keep money in his backyard. He is, however, not suspected by the FBI until his wife’s brother steals from him and starts to spend exuberantly. The official trailer shows a glimpse of Tom Cruise’s action and unparalleled performance.

20. The Wolf of the Wall Street (2013)

The Wolf of the Wall Street(2013)

Director : Martin Scorsese

Stars : Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie

With over twenty-eight million views on the official trailer only, the Wolf of the Wall Street is one of the most popular movies in the world. Hitting the Guinness book of record for the most profane words used in a movie, it also has high drug use.

The movie, set in the 80s, is based on the life of a wall street stockbroker who also uses hard drugs. Following a collapse in office, he seeks to build a new company of his own. He starts by manipulating people into buying stocks while he inflated the price for a temporary period.

After a while, the price drops, and the investors are left with nothing. He builds a company with his neighbor and old friends named Stratton Oakmont. After a public appearance of his company, many people flock to buy stocks from him.

He invests his life in stocks, prostitution, and hard drugs. After being investigated by the FBI, he is finally caught when he and his associate use hard drugs in excess and spills their secrets through their taped landline.

21. TrainSpotting (1996)

TrainSpotting (1996)

Director : Danny Boyle

Stars : Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller

Based on the book Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh, critics consider this movie to be one of the best of the 1990s. Winning the best Scottish movie of all time in 2004, it is undoubtedly a success and blockbuster. The official trailer shows it’s one of the funniest movies you’ll enjoy.

Trainspotting features the struggle of heroin addict Renton, who desperately tries to become clean amongst his friends. He relapses every time he is bored, but he is faced with a new choice in life not too long.

22. Thirteen (2003)

Thirteen (2003)

Director : Catherine Hardwicke

Stars : Evan Rachel Wood, Holly Hunter, Nikki Reed

Don’t be deceived by the quality of the official trailer; this movie has won many prizes, including a Nobel prize. Because of the controversy of youth drug abuse, the movie received a few criticisms, making Nikki Reed drop out of school. The movie, however depicts the life of troubled teenagers who are striving to fit into society.

After 13-year-old Tracy, a girl troubled at home because of her negligent drug addict mom, gets entangled with Evie, her life turns upside down. She starts to do drugs, has sex, and drinks alcohol. Will she get another chance to get her life right? See the movie to enjoy the top-notch performances of these young girls.

Categorized as the best of all time, the drug movies above not only focus on drugs but have interesting storylines that will keep you glued to the screen and probably teach you some of the biggest lessons you will ever learn.

The plot twists and funny episodes are exceptional. You’ll enjoy these movies even if you’re not a fan of drug battles.

Drug Movies You Can't Miss

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The Cinemaholic

11 Best Drug Addiction Movies of All Time

Ashes Roy

First things first. Through this article we do not intend to glorify substance abuse. It has one of the most horrific outcomes and thus, we condemn its use. Having said that, substance abuse has been the topic of many movies. Some glorify them, some disapprove them. Some even elucidate a flourishing economy out of the drug trade! Some of the most renowned personalities in human history such as Sigmund Freud, Thomas Alva Edison, and Richard Feynman have been known to consume drugs as it helped them to think better. From giving thrills of a lifetime to ruining lives, the power of narcotics knows no border.

So we, at the Cinemaholic, have come up with a list of movies about drug addiction. Some of these are drug dealer movies; some are about drug smuggling and trafficking; some about drug cartels; and some about heroin addicts. You can stream some of these best drug movies on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.

11. Blow (2001)

good movies about drugs

Two things stay with you when you watch ‘Blow’. George Jung’s constant reminiscence of his father and his mother’s disapproval of his profession. The second one becomes evident when his mother calls upon the police and rats him out from his hiding place and later refuses to let him visit his dying father. Fred Jung, George’s father, is an honest man who never made it to the top despite his hard work, thus earning regular reprimands from his wife. While this becomes the foundation of George’s entry into the world of crime, it’s also an allegory of the drug ravaged America of the seventies. Released to lukewarm response, ‘Blow’ is an ultimate tragic tale of a father and a son. Starring Johnny Depp , Ray Liotta, Franka Potente and Penelope Cruz , it is one of the most underrated movies about drug addiction.

Read More: Best Christian Movies of All Time

10. Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas (1998)

good movies about drugs

Consider this. You are traveling to Las Vegas with a buddy to cover an assignment as a correspondent. You’ve got camera, writing material and a boot full of cocaine, acid and other drugs. How trippy you think you can get? Very trippy? Absolutely trippy? Well, to put it in Raoul Duke’s own words: “It makes you behave like the village drunkard in some early Irish novel. Total loss of all basic motor function. Blurred vision, no balance, numb tongue. The mind recoils in horror, unable to communicate with the spinal column. Which is interesting because you can actually watch yourself behaving in this terrible way, but you can’t control it.” Starring Johhny Depp and Benicio Del Toro , ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ is one hell of a ride under drug.

Read More: Best Investigative Journalism Movies of All Time

9. The Panic In Needle Park (1971)

good movies about drugs

‘The Panic in Needle Park’ is about a couple who come together by chance and stay in for the common love of heroin. While the addiction takes charge in their individual lives leading one to prison and the other to prostitution, they drift apart eventually, only to come back stronger. ‘The Panic In Needle Park’ is essentially a love story in the backdrop of a nation going into a slowly induced drug haze. Al Pacino in his major starring role impresses with his acting chops. There is a scene where the couple are indulged in drug abuse and their pet puppy falls into the water. Many years later, Lars Von Trier directed ‘Antichrist’ had a sequence where the crawling baby falls off the ledge while the parents are making love. It’s a poignant scene evoking similar sentiments.

Read More: Best Terrorism Movies of All Time

8. Maria Full Of Grace (2004)

good movies about drugs

In the big bad world of drug trafficking, the players are aplenty and drugs change many hands before they end up with the users. While the drug mobilizes from places like Mexico and Columbia, it comes down to the mules who carry it. ‘Maria Full Of Grace’ is the story of those people who decide to be drug mules to fulfill their needs, without considering the dangers the trade brings in. The protagonist Maria, in order to ‘transport’ the heroin, swallows the drug pellets and uses her pregnancy as a ruse to avoid being x-ray scanned. When a fellow mule dies of the pellet rupturing inside her stomach, Maria steps up the game to save herself. It’s a drug trafficking story told from the point of view of the mule and not the trafficker himself.

Read More: Best Communication Movies of All Time

7. Scarface (1983)

good movies about drugs

‘Scarface’ is considered to be one of Al Pacino ’s greatest performances, and I doubt if anyone can question that. But why are we including ’Scarface’ as one of the greatest drug movies? That’s the question that remains to be answered. The rise and fall of the Cuban refugee Tony Montana is intertwined between the drug dealing and later his own descent into substance abuse. While ‘Scarface’ is famous for its shooting sequences and extremely graphic depiction of violence, it also details the life of a drug trafficker coming to full circle.

Related: Best Al Pacino Movies

6. Climax (2018)

good movies about drugs

I went in with high expectations for Gaspar Noe ‘s highly intriguing psychedelic thriller, ‘Climax’ . While I wasn’t disappointed, I must say that it didn’t really hit me as Noe’s other films. And to me, ‘Irreversible’  still remains his best work to date. ‘Climax’ revolves around the members of a dance troupe who party hard in a secluded building. However, things take a turn when they find out that the sangria is laced with LSD. What follows is a shocking depiction of the inner animalistic side of human beings that drugs bring out. The film is noted for its unique visual aesthetics and narrative structure. It doesn’t really have a story and most of the scenes and dialogues are improvised by the actors themselves, which make for a unique cinematic experience.

‘Climax’ is quintessential Gaspar Noe. It’s violent, experimental, emotionally powerful and brutally honest. One could argue that the violence in the film, at certain places, is unnecessary. But I have always found Noe’s exploration of violence to be deeply philosophical and so full of meaning. There is no message that Noe conveys with the film regarding drug addiction. That’s not him. What he does here is portray a certain side of human beings that we never want to see. It’s him being at his most provocative. And like all of his films, he gets the best out of his actors. The performances are shockingly realistic and it is hard to believe that we are even watching a film.

‘Climax’, as I said before, is still not Noe’s best film, but it’s a wildly provocative, shocking depiction of the darkest sides of human beings. It’s one of those films that deserves to be seen and talked about, for it raises several questions regarding the influence of drugs in our social lives and our inability to resist the temptation. A must watch for staunch lovers of provocative cinema.

5. Traffic (2000)

good movies about drugs

Steven Soderbergh ’s ‘Traffic’ is essentially a maze, where multiple characters through different storylines tell the same story. It’s an amalgamation of three stories, where drug deals, its trafficking and its abuse impacts many lives including the ones fighting against and for it. Somewhere it’s a story of an upright cop fighting for his society’s poor children; somewhere it’s a judge pressing strongly for a hardened drug law, only to lose his purpose upon knowing his daughter’s addiction. The film received four academy awards which included best director and best supporting actor.

Related: Best Benicio Del Toro Movies

4. Easy Rider (1969)

good movies about drugs

‘Easy Rider’ tells many stories under a single story. At a minimalist’s view point, it’s a road movie where two buddies ride along the roads of countryside, while being under the influence of drugs. You dig a little deeper and it comes out with a tale of societal tensions across different communities and people’s perception about strangers. It becomes pretty evident from the scene at the diner, when the protagonists face humiliations from the town people for their appearances. While the drug abuse serves as the backdrop, it’s more of a soul-searching movie in the times of hate and paranoia.

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3. Trainspotting (1996)

good movies about drugs

Danny Boyle ’s ‘Trainspotting’ is a cult movie which tells a story of four friends and their tryst with addiction. Outrageous and bizarre are the only two words to describe it. It is about a drug addict who wants to go clean, but he falters at each step due to his urge of getting high. Generously overdosed with humor, it tries to underline a fact with utter seriousness. And that is, despite the luxuries that life offers, the youth denies it with much aplomb. “ And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got heroin?”

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2. Requiem For A Dream (2000)

good movies about drugs

Addiction is weird. For some, it’s a tryst with fame. For some, it’s an ultimate high through drugs. One can be addicted with anything, that is desired excessively by that entity. Visually enriching and equally disturbing, ‘Requiem For A Dream’ is one such audacious movie. Darren Aronofsky ’s masterpiece tells the story of four people and their addictions which ultimately turn their lives upside down. Aronofsky uses rapid cut shots to showcase the edginess of the characters, to their path to getting high, which was groundbreaking.

I haven’t been the biggest Aronofsky fan, to be honest. Some of his films are annoyingly self-indulgent, which is a shame considering most of them are extremely ambitious. But in ‘Requiem for a Dream’ everything comes together, and we get to see the director fully realize his vision. It’s a truly devastating film that explores the brutal realities of drug addiction . There are several moments in the film that haunt you for a long, long time. Aronofsky also flaunts his technical prowess as a filmmaker and gives the film a very distinctive tone.

Ellen Burstyn is brilliant as Sara Goldfarb, and delivers a performance for the ages. The other cast members are exceptional too, as they all slip into Aronofsky’s devastating world with astonishing ease. ‘Requiem For a Dream’  is not just a film; it’s an experience that deserves to be seen, felt and reflected upon. While it may turn out to be a deeply disturbing experience for you as a viewer, one must confront and try to answer the numerous questions that the film raises. I can guarantee that you’ll come out a different person after watching the film.

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1. City Of God (2002)

good movies about drugs

‘City Of God’ is the story of drug trafficking and gang wars in the slums of Rio De Janeiro, explained in a vividly graphic way. In a way, it’s a movie about the mobsters or the drug mafia that rule several poverty-stricken Third World countries. Look closely, and you can draw parallels from a drug ravaged Nigeria or a civil war-torn Syria. Told from the perspective of a spectator, it is about one man’s rise and fall among the drug traffickers through two decades of crime.

‘City of God’ is one of the most unforgettable cinematic experiences I’ve ever had. Right from that gripping opening scene to the devastating ending, I was in awe of the film’s raw energy. It is uncompromisingly forthright in its depiction of poverty, drug addiction and violence. There are several shocking moments in the film that stay with you for a long time, such as the foot shooting scene. The performances are brilliant, and the fact that the cast members were mostly residents of the favelas themselves added to the realism. Also, one can clearly see the influence this film has had on Anurag Kashyap ‘s cult classic , ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ .

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The Cinemaholic Sidebar


15 Best Movies about Drugs

Updated: Apr 18, 2021

good movies about drugs

For many of us, the past year has been a series of months stuck inside, binging television and film marathons until we pass out from overeating. Half of the night before that is spent trying to decide what to watch until we finally settle on that one Seth Rogen movie you’ve seen, God knows how many times.

But there’s a reason why Seth Rogen films are so comforting. He’s average-looking, relatable, and always finds a way to sneak in some sort of drug paraphernalia in every movie he stars in. And this sparked an idea for us at AFTR PRTY : how many other movies are out there which can reassure us of our own drug habits?

Whether it’s a kid-next-door kind of film where a group of teens discover the magic of shrooms for the first time, or a Brian de Palma directorial with enough cocaine to put you away for three life sentences.

Simply put: we enjoy movies that make us feel better about our own situations and make us say, “at least I’m not that bad...” And watching movies about drugs is the best way to do that. They’re also some of the best cinematic creations ever to exist (obviously referring to #5 on this list).

So we’ve collated 15 of the most entertaining, shocking, and critically acclaimed movies about drugs.


Nothing short of a masterpiece, Requiem For A Dream follows four protagonists as they struggle with drug addiction, some without even knowing it. Whilst her only son gets a taste for heroin, widow Sara Goldfarb is granted an opportunity to star on her favorite TV show. In a desperate venture to lose weight before her big break, she visits a dodgy doctor who prescribes her amphetamines , which she unknowingly takes four times a day.

The film explores the detriment of drug-induced psychosis and showcases the life-ruining effects of taking heroin. Although hard-hitting, the actors’ performances will have you captivated from the start and leave you feeling all the emotions. It’s almost criminal that it won no awards when it was first released.

Director: Darren Aronofsky Starring: Ellen Burstyn , Jared Leto , Jennifer Connelly


There is no chance we could make a list like this without featuring Pineapple Express . The movie feels like a warm hug for any stoner and provides the perfect background noise for a bong hit after a long day.

Dale Denton is a bailiff who finds himself, along with his weed dealer, in trouble with the local mob after he witnesses a murder and drops a roach at the scene. The pair endure gunshots, betrayal, and even a breakup on their adventure without a single Nug dropped. We recommend this movie to anyone and everyone. 11/10.

Director: David Gordon Green Starring: Seth Rogen , James Franco , Gary Cole

3. FILTH (2013)

Filth sees James McAvoy in all of his Scottish glory as he plays DS Bruce Robertson: a manipulative, misanthropic, nasty piece of work who uses drugs, alcohol, sex, and even cross-dressing to deal with his issues. A sufferer of Bipolar Disorder , Robertson has lost his wife and his daughter, and his only enjoyment comes in the form of playing “games” with the people around him.

The film is magnificently disgusting, shining a comedic spotlight on the truths of 1980s Scotland whilst also delving into the reality of self-medication.

Director: Jon S. Baird Starring: James McAvoy , Jamie Bell , Eddie Marsan


For those fighting off a whitey, or just fancying something a little more mellow and light-hearted, Alice in Wonderland is the perfect way to spend 75 minutes. Based on Lewis Carroll's book, which is undoubtedly influenced by his own experiences with p sychedelics , Disney created their color-animated version in 1951. The story follows a young girl called Alice, who finds herself in a dream world chasing after a white rabbit and consuming precarious potions and edibles that distort her reality.

Make sure you watch the cartoon and not the live-action version from 2010; it doesn’t quite have the same effect, and it’s a little too ‘Disney’ – if you know what I mean.

Director: Clyde Geronimi , Wilfred Jackson Starring: Kathryn Beaumont , Ed Wynn , Richard Haydn

5. SCARFACE (1983)

‘Say hello to my little friend’... Scarface . In this absolute classic, Al Pacino plays the role of Tony Montana, an ambitious Cuban immigrant who takes the 1980s Miami drug scene by storm, a character that is loosely based on Al Capone . Pacino delivers an iconic performance, and the film boasts some of the best one-liners in cinematic history .

The story follows Montana’s rapid, cocaine-fuelled, and particularly violent journey from Cuban immigrant to the most powerful cocaine drug lord in Miami. However, Montana never appears satisfied with what he has, and his impatience and willingness to do whatever it takes gains him plenty of enemies along the way.

Director: Brian De Palma Starring: Al Pacino , Michelle Pfeiffer , Steven Bauer


A true icon in its own right, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is ridiculously funny, and Johnny Depp ’s portrayal of a balding, paranoid journalist on a bizarre concoction of different drugs isn’t even the best bit. Based on the book by Hunter S. Thompson , the movie follows journalist Raoul Duke and his attorney Dr. Gonzo as they road trip along Western USA with a trunk full of drugs.

The film grows increasingly hilarious as the two characters experience every type of hallucination under the sun, from growing a crocodile tail to finding a gun in the toilet. Watch stoned or sober – both equally fun experiences.

Director: Terry Gilliam Starring: Johnny Depp , Benicio Del Toro , Tobey Maguire

“I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked out for me.” - Hunter S. Thompson.

7. LIMITLESS (2011)

Something a little different from the rest, Limitless tells the story of a writer named Eddie Morra, whose whole perception of life is changed when he tries a brand new pill, street name: Limitless.

Decorated with a star-studded cast, it’s easy to forget that this movie is about drug addiction, as the effects of the drugs in question are so positive. This is very cleverly demonstrated through colored lighting to differentiate between when Eddie is high and when he is not. However, the subtle reminders are there, speaking of the risks of getting involved with drug dealers. Come for Bradley Cooper , stay for Robert De Niro .

Director: Neil Burger Starring: Bradley Cooper , Anna Friel , Abbie Cornish , Robert De Niro


Ranked by Time Out as the tenth best British film of all time, Trainspotting takes its inspiration from a book by the same name, written by Irvine Welsh . Mark Renton, the main protagonist, and his four friends are unemployed and addicted to heroin, finding themselves knee-deep in problems. Two deaths, a rehab stay, and a prison sentence later, Renton and his friends join forces once again to shift two kilos of heroin for a profit in hopes it will set them up for a better life.

Trainspotting highlights the terrifying impacts of heroin, including the risk of an HIV diagnosis, alongside the poverty in Scotland that led so many down the wrong path. A sad yet thrilling film, which will lead you to ‘Choose Life’ too (and not heroin).

Director: Danny Boyle Starring: Ewan McGregor , Ewen Bremner , Jonny Lee Miller

9. BLOW (2001)

Another Johnny Depp classic, but completely different from the aforementioned. Blow follows the real-life story of George Jung and how he built his connections within the cocaine empire in the 70s and became one of Pablo Escobar ’s right-hand men.

The film begins with a young George whose flighty mother has abandoned him and whose father has just lost his job, leaving the family bankrupt. George vows that he will never be broke and turns to dealing drugs as an adult to help him on his way. After being busted by the police for possession of 660lbs of marijuana, George ends up in jail, where he soon discovers that cocaine is what brings in the big bucks.

A little slow to start, Blow initially feels like every other heist movie. However, the relationships Jung build throughout the two-hour-long film make every minute worth it: a passionate romance with the stunning Penélope Cruz , a long-term friendship with his paranoid drug-smuggling partner, and a paternal responsibility for his young little girl, played by a baby Emma Roberts .

Director: Ted Demme Starring: Johnny Depp , Penélope Cruz , Franka Potente


An obvious choice, as it’s easy to lose count of how many types of drugs Jordan Belfort is actually on. Although the film follows a sexist, borderline racist stockbroker and provides one of Jonah Hill ’s most unlikeable characters ever , the film undoubtedly deserves a place on this list for an outrageously impressive performance from Leonardo DiCaprio and for *that* car scene alone.

Director: Martin Scorsese Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio , Jonah Hill , Margot Robbie


The Gentlemen is the newest entry on the list, but after watching it, you’ll wonder why it hasn’t entered your life before. This film tells the story of Mickey Pearson, an American living in Britain who owns the biggest marijuana empire in the country. After word gets out that he wants to sell, his enemies and competition hatch a plan to rip him off. Hugh Grant delivers one of his best (and unexpected) performances of the decade as slippery scoop reporter Fletcher, who bizarrely narrates the events that unfold.

The film is jam-packed with an amazing cast and outstanding performances from everyone involved, including young UK rapper Bugsy Malone . Everything about this movie is fantastic.

Director: Guy Ritchie Starring: Matthew McConaughey , Charlie Hunnam , Michelle Dockery , Hugh Grant , Colin Farrell

12.ENTER THE VOID (2009)

One of the trippiest movies you will ever see, Enter the Void is a cinematic masterpiece. Set against Tokyo's neon lights, Japan, the film’s protagonist is a young American drug dealer named Oscar. After getting shot by the police, Oscar watches events unfold from a different perspective, as he experiences an out-of-body-experience.

Brilliantly filmed from a first-person POV , the movie completely encapsulates the effects of Psychedelics and tricks your mind into thinking it’s a firsthand experience . Enter the Void is guaranteed to be unlike anything else you’ve seen before.

Director: Gaspar Noé Starring: Nathaniel Brown , Paz de la Huerta , Cyril Roy

13. MISTER NICE (2010)

Mr. Nice is a true story based on the life of British drug smuggler Howard Marks , a man notorious for having 43 different aliases. Once a nuclear physics and philosophy student at Oxford University , Marks is seduced by a rebellious foreign exchange student (whom he later marries), who introduces him to the wonders of marijuana. He soon after befriends resident oxford drug dealer Graham Pilston, played by Jack Huston .

In the following years, Marks loses a close friend to an overdose and his wife to an affair. With nothing left to lose, Marks seizes an opportunity following Pilston’s arrest to create his marijuana smuggling empire, which historically supplied the majority of marijuana smoked in the western world for the following two decades.

Director: Bernard Rose

Starring: Rhys Ifans , Chloë Sevigny , David Thewlis


Of course, there couldn’t be only one Seth Rogen feature on this list, but this suggestion may come as a surprise. The Night Before , released in 2015, received pretty average reviews. However, it remains a Christmas tradition in our household.

Three friends vow to spend every Christmas together after one becomes an orphan just before the holidays. Years pass and the group – bar Joseph Gordon Levitt – tires of the tradition, and agree to end it after one last blowout. About to have a baby, Isaac – played by Rogen – is gifted a box of random drugs from his wife, which sets off the night to an excellent start.

But it’s not the drugs that make this story interesting, but rather the drug dealer. Making reference to A Christmas Carol , the boys’ drug dealer delivers them past, present, and future experiences, not with ghosts but with different strains of weed. Seth Rogen encapsulates a whitey perfectly (when drugs make you puke), while the drug dealer becomes the star of the movie. Easy watching and super hilarious – perfect to watch with friends.

Director: Jonathan Levine Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt , Seth Rogen , Anthony Mackie

15. BOOKSMART (2019)

Although less of a film about drugs and more of a movie containing drug use, Booksmart deserves a place on this list for one very simple reason: it has one of the best trip scenes in modern cinema.

Booksmart is about two girls who have wasted the past four years of their life on rigorous schoolwork and studying, only to find out it hasn’t benefitted them at all. So they decide on the last day of the semester to f*** s*** up. A simple premise, but laugh-out-loud funny. Watch with a joint – you won’t regret it.

Director: Olivia Wilde Starring: Kaitlyn Dever , Beanie Feldstein , Jessica Williams


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