“Addiction” is a scary word – people say it, and your mind immediately goes to lost jobs, broken families, bankruptcy and maybe even death. The nature of addiction is destructive, but Hollywood seems to not only romanticize it, but skew its very definition to serve certain purposes. 

While some drugs are more addictive with a possibility of a deadly overdose – medically speaking – others have been villainized by the movie industry for decades, only to serve political and capitalistic agendas. In this article, we tackle some of the various ways Hollywood got addictions all wrong. 

Hollywood tends to generalize the terms “drugs” and “drug dealer” to include anything from pure cannabis, to natural mushrooms, all the way to heroin – a major fault. While psychedelic mushrooms and marijuana naturally occur in nature, and with the wave of legalization of the latter sweeping the world, labelling them as ‘drugs’ remains a gray area. As Hollywood starts to catch up and adjust the representation of marijuana use – for both medical and recreational purposes – it still somehow fails to erase the stigma it was guilty of creating over the past decades. 

On the other hand, while all movies showcase the dangers of drugs like heroin and meth, they somehow manage to simultaneously romanticize their users and glorify their dealers in a clear portrayal of duality. The damaging effects of these drugs are not something to be taken lightly, for as explained in this blog, they most certainly have the worst effects on users’ health and wellbeing, and even their chances of survival if left untreated. 

Fact Checks for Effects 
While almost all Hollywood productions claim to use the expertise of medical professionals in the making, they still somehow miss the mark – a lot. If you were lucky enough to watch Requiem for a Dream, you would notice how dilated pupils were a thing. Let me tell you, the bloodshot eyes of someone who recently used heroin will actually have very small pupils. In another inaccurate portrayal, crack is seen used in The Wolf of Wall Street as a fast acting, miraculous party drug, where the user immediately experiences and exhibits an instant shift in mood and actions. In reality, cocaine takes 5 to 10 minutes to kick in

Racial and Socioeconomic Classifications 
Hollywood is somewhat obsessed with drug cartels that are almost always of Latin or African descent, armed with countless weapons and mangled accents in a desperate attempt at making it a fact: drug dealers aren’t white. The addicts, however, are usually harmless white folk with bright futures shattered, and innocent families destroyed by the Bad Brown Man. While there may be some exceptions – thank the universe for Breaking Bad – they do not even remotely reflect reality. Dare I say it’s a bit racist? 

Life Isn’t Like the Movies 
Addiction is a serious matter, and should be treated as such. But before that, taking a step back to actually identify addiction, its type, and the proper methods of treatment is key. And while Hollywood movies can be wildly entertaining and may seem lifelike, they can be very deceiving and incredibly inaccurate. No one should ever use movies as a guide to determine what drugs are dangerous, which people avoid, or what addicts look or act like. If you know someone who may be struggling with addiction, seek medical advice immediately.