Five Fictional Characters With Drug Addictions

Fictional Characters with Drug Addictions

There are many novels that feature drug use. Because of the exciting, illicit, illegal nature of drug use it is a subject that’s rife for fictional exploitation. But who are the fictional drug addicts that stay with you long after you’ve finished reading about them? Who are the fictional drug addicts you’ll never forget? Here are five of the best:  

Sherlock HolmesSherlock Holmes: Fictional Characters With Drug Addictions

Sherlock Holmes is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous creation. He is a detective who always knows the answer, famed for his astute analytical skills and his use of forensic science to ensure that every case is solved in the end. Holmes made his publication debut in 1887, when the first Sherlock Holmes novel,  A Study in Scarlet, appeared in Mrs Beeton’s Christmas Annual. And yet despite his appearance in such a wholesome, family friendly publication, Sherlock Holmes was also a drug addict.  Holmes is a cocaine addict who believes that the use of cocaine keeps his mind sharp and stimulated when he isn’t using it on a case. He is very specific about his drug use, sharing that he injects a seven-per-cent solution of cocaine into his arm using a personal syringe. Holmes also smokes cigarettes, cigars and pipes, and occasionally uses morphine too: He’s a fictional detective with a serious fictional drug problem!



Raoul DukeRaoul Duke: Fictional Characters With Drug Addictions

The name Raoul Duke might not be familiar to you, but the novel he is the main protagonist of certainly will be: Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Raoul and his attorney Dr Gonzo head to Las Vegas where, in a drug-addled haze, they chase the American dream. The novel is famous for its lurid descriptions of illegal drug use and is loosely based on fact: the novel was written after two trips to Las Vegas that Thompson took to Las Vegas with his own attorney.



Mark RentonMark Renton: Fictional Characters With Drug Addictions

Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting is a novel that focuses almost entirely on drug use in Leigh (a borough of Edinburgh in Scotland) and the main protagonist, Renton, who is a heroin addict. ‘Trainspotting’ is a slang term for injecting heroin with the train ‘tracks’ being the veins which the heroin is injected into. Renton is something of an ‘anti-hero’ and although good looking and intelligent he is also a depressive who uses heroin to withdraw from mainstream society and to give meaning to his life. Renton and other characters within the novel attempt their own recovery programs, but by the end of the novel they are all still addicts. The list of drugs taken in this novel is fairly shocking. Heroin, speed, cocaine, amphetamine and alcohol are sprinkled liberally throughout. The novel has taken on cult status since its release, and the subsequent film based upon it. This is by far the most drug-addled novel on the list!



Salvatore ParadiseSalvatore Paradise: Fictional Characters With Drug Addictions

Salvatore ‘Sal’ Paradise is the narrator and main character in Jack Kerouac’s seminal novel On the Road. The novel is considered to be one of the best ‘beat generation’ novels ever written. The recreational drugs used within the novel include cannabis, Benzedrine, and morphine: all popular drugs at the time.  The influences of On the Road spread so much wider than any other novel on this list. Musicians such as Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones cited it as an inspiration (Both wanting to emulate ‘Sal’). It’s hard to imagine a book like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas being written if this wasn’t written first. In his book Light My Fire: My Life with The Doors, Ray Manzarek (keyboard player of The Doors) wrote “I suppose if Jack Kerouac had never written On the Road, The Doors would never have existed.”



Thomas de QuinceyThomas de Quincey: Fictional Characters With Drug Addictions

Thomas de Quincey is both the author and subject of the semi-autobiographical novel, Confessions of an English Opium Eater. The novel was written in 1821 and is about an opium and alcohol addiction, and the affect it had on the protagonists life. De Quincey focuses on both the pleasures and the pains of opium addiction, but it’s clear from his writing that he has been truly seduced by the pleasures of his addiction and despite the insomnia and nightmares he is longing to return to Opium once more: a truly compelling novel for its generation.


Article written by Lisa Taylor, a freelance writer who covers topics as diverse as the latest exhibitions, reviews of art, books and music, self-help articles.