Television and cinema boast some of the most shocking and realistic portrayals of drug addicts, and the stories for many of these addicts don’t end well or showcase a lifetime of drug abuse and mental trauma. Often, these characters are a beloved part of a television show that viewers hope will one day kick the habit, but something always seems to get in the way of a clean break from addiction.
Here are three of the most memorable television drug addicts and why they’re hopelessly addicted for life.
Dr. Gregory House of “House”
This series did have elements of comedic relief and occasionally poked fun at established medicine, and the impactful drama featured a drug addict named Dr. Gregory House. Played by actor Hugh Laurie, the character initially took a legal prescription for post-surgical leg pain and eventually became addicted and unable to function without the drug.
In the early episodes of the series, Dr. House argues that the Vicodin he takes eliminates his pain so he can perform his job. Dr. House must also deal with the emotional trauma of his wife having made the decision for him to get the surgery that would cripple him and introduce him to Vicodin addiction.
Like any real life drug addict, Dr. House relapses and starts taking Vicodin again after a traumatic event in his life. In one episode, his coworker and boss, Dr. Cuddy, reveals that she has kidney cancer. The only way that Dr. House can cope with the stress of the diagnosis is to go back to taking Vicodin to dull his pain. Although he sometimes has his addiction under control, it always seems to return when bad events impact his life.
Nurse Jackie of “Nurse Jackie”
A dark yet comedic series, “Nurse Jackie” features a title character who is a severe drug addict, and the series was well-received by critics who appreciated the stark portrayal of drug addiction. Played by actress Edie Falco, Jackie Peyton is an emergency nurse at a hospital in New York City, and much of the series deals with her constant addiction to pills.
Not only does Jackie steal from work to get her drugs, but she even trades sex for drugs all the while showing devotion to her children and patients. The different drugs she takes run the gamut and include Vicodin, Xanax, and Adderall. She also takes Percocet and Oxycontin, so her addiction is severe.
Her friends are successful in weaning her off drugs for a short time, but her addiction is something that keeps recurring throughout the series. The challenges of her personal life and the stress of her job make it unlikely she’ll ever permanently enter a state of recovery.
Christopher Moltisanti of “The Sopranos”
As one of the most respected television series ever aired, “The Sopranos” featured just about every human vice imaginable from murder to drug abuse to adultery. One of the unrelentingly addicted characters in the film is Christopher Moltisanti, played by Michael Imperioli. Living in the shadow of his larger-than-life cousin Tony Soprano, Christopher is always at the wrong end of the stick.
The general insanity of his family and the gangster lifestyle in which he’s grown up conspire to drive him to become a serious alcohol and drug addict. He attempts drug rehabilitation and even attends AA meetings, but he’s never clean for long. Christopher’s worst problem is a heroin addiction, and he relapses multiple times throughout the series.
Unfortunately, it’s drugs that lead to Christopher’s murder when he crashes his SUV while high with Tony in the passenger’s seat, and Tony decides to kill Christopher because of his irresponsibility and insubordination.
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