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These Unforgettable Pop Culture Drug Freak-Outs Will Totally Kill Your Buzz

Happy 4/20!

As the work day ends, and the day-job employed toker prepares to head home and commence their own 4/20 celebrations, let's just remember: Drugs aren't always fun. Here, the staff of papermag.com pulled together a round-up of some of the best pop culture drug-induced freak outs to remind you that maybe you don't really want that extra hit.

Freaks and Geeks, "Chokin' and Tokin'" (2000)

In episode "Chokin' and Tokin'," Lindsay Weir (Linda Cardellini) suffers that all-too-relatable problem of the occasional smoker: Getting super high and then realizing, oh shit, you've got responsibilities to handle. In her case, that means attempting to babysit an active kid while tamping down some paranoia and pleading, "I'm not cheating! Just give me some space, man."

She ends up anxious about hide and go seek, freaked out by decorative flower paintings, and slowly melting into a couch while debating pseudo-philosophical concepts, eventually becoming convinced that we only exist inside a dog's dream. We can only hope we're eventually snapped out of our philosophical delusions by a sober sitter as well-intentioned as Millie, with the courage to wake the dog. (Kat Ward)


Christiane F. (1982)

This early '80s film (based on a non-fiction book of the same name) follows a young German girl, the titular Christiane F., as she flees her boring German home in search of adventure, discotheques, and David Bowie. She finds all three, and a whole lot more than she bargained for, as she and her friend and boyfriend descend into a horrorshow junkie spiral, prostitution, and eventual recovery (though almost everyone else around her is dead). If nothing else, Christiane F. will make you think twice before accepting that pill in a Berlin nightclub. (KW)


Saved by the Bell, "Jessie's Song" (1990)

Who among us hasn't felt sympathy with perfectionist Jessie Spano (Elizabeth Berkley) and her quickly picked-up and quickly-dropped pill addiction in Saved by the Bell? She gets in too deep with caffeine pills in order to conquer her fear of performing and to prove she can be a part of Zach Morris's girl-group (classic show biz mistake, Jessie). Her final desperate lunge for pills culminates in a bravura dramatic fit, and gifts the world a catchphrase that will be repeated for eternity whenever anyone faces up to their own mundane yet terrifying leaps of faith: "I'm so excited. I'm so excited! I'm so, I'm so scared!" (KW)


Thirteen (2003)

One of the most frightening and compelling movies of the 2000s, Thirteen starts off with a suckerpunch -- quite literally. The movie's main character, Tracey (Evan Rachel Wood) is in full-frame, as Mark Mothersbaugh's menacing guitar roars in the background. Her eyes widen, and mouth drops in in awe as she touches her face and realizes she can't feel a thing.

"Hit me!" she tells us.

Suddenly, from behind the camera, a fist clocks her right across the face.

We then see that Tracey and her partner in crime, Evie (Nikki Reed) are doing whip-its in her tweened-out bedroom, gleefully decking each other's numbed faces until they start to bleed; their joy only increases when they see the blood.

It's way too real, and perfectly captures the movie's overall theme of adolescent self-destruction within the first 2 minutes. It's the after-school special you never wanted to see. (Carey O'Donnell)


Traffic (2000)

Truly one of the greatest movies ever made, Soderbergh's modern classic is a saga of addiction. Like Thirteen, the movie's most terrifying, interwoven plot involves Erika Christensen, as Michael Douglas' drug-addicted teenage daughter.

In one scene, Soderbergh's explores the Less Than Zero world of drug use in the privileged youth contingent.

Christensen and her gaggle of WASPy brats, including Topher Grace, blow line after line of coke, and talk "deeply" about social alienation and the pressures of perfection that their successful parents imprison them with.

Their meandering, yaked-out discussion is one of the most realistic depictions of how stupid people sound on cocaine.

It also ends with a sweaty, hard-to-watch OD that'll give you by proxy heart palpitations.

The best line "He can't die here on the fucking floor! His parents are in Barbados."

Lol. (CO)


Mr. Show, "The Altered State of Drugachusettes" (1995)

This searingly real Mr. Show sketch shows the fresh hell that is being way, way too high and having to execute a simple task. Set in a candy-colored H.R. Pufnstuf lysergic Hades called "Drugachusettes" (fast forward to the 1:25 mark), Billy must help his friends Jonesy, Pot Brownies and Halluci-jenny use the phone to order a pizza, because everyone hates them. This will speak to the soul of anyone who has an adversarial relationship with weed. Anyone who's ever sat quietly, stoned out of their mind, retreating further and further into themselves as they reflect on their parents' divorce while their friends watch that Fergie Today show clip, laughing until they cry, blissfully unaware of the fact that they just aren't safe in the world and should always be listening to every anxious thought and doubt that crosses their mind because that's reality. Fuck those people. (Elizabeth Thompson)


Requiem For A Dream (2000)

Of the several depressing stories that make up the plot of Darren Aronofsky's Requiem For A Dream, one of the saddest is the trip of Harry Goldfarb's mom, Sara, who gets hooked on diet pills and subsequently suffers amphetamine psychosis. Or, the condition that led her to believe at one point that her fridge was attacking her.


Unfortunately, the monster appliances were just the beginning, as by the end of the film we see her completely breakdown. A move that results in her being involuntarily committed and subject to electroshock therapy...and subsequently losing her sanity.


Like, if the above compendium of her plotline doesn't chill you to the bone (Tori Amos soundtrack and all), I'm honestly not sure what will. (Sandra Song)


Trainspotting (1996)

As a whole, Danny Boyle's Trainspotting is a pretty good depiction of the worst drug freakouts -- what with that infamous toilet dive scene and all. However, the most terrifying part of the movie isn't an actual bender, but rather Renton's "Junkie Limbo" detox scene.



Filled with imagined bedfellows, babies crawling on the ceiling and Underworld's techno trance hit "Dark Train" on loop, this hallucinatory helltrip is so intense that it makes us sweat -- all while giving new meaning to the idea of what should be categorized as a true "drug-induced freakout." After all, we all know the comedown is always the scariest part. (SS)


The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)


"I had skipped the tingle phase and went straight to the drool phase," is how Leonardo DiCaprio-as-Jordan Belfort describes his epic incapacitation at the hands of some old Quaaludes (or "Lemmons" as he refers to them). It's hard to feel sympathy for a rich bro who drives a white sports car with suicide doors but watching Leo-as-Jordan struggle to crawl his way out of the WASPy country club, babbling incoherently almost makes you try. Almost. (Abby Schreiber)


Desperate Lives (1982)

The omega of anti-drug after-school specials, Desperate Lives follows teen brother and sister Scott and Sandy (played by future Oscar-winner Helen Hunt), two seemingly perfectly stable youths who get sucked into their suburban high school's underbelly of pills, weed, coke, smoke -- you name it, missy! The movie's climax features Sandy jumping through a closed second-story window high on a single bump of angel dust that her hot boyfriend made in chemistry class. She's so pumped full of adrenaline that she springs up from the fall, raving wildly at her slack-jawed peers as she cuts her arms with glass shards and dashes off before she's tackled. This scene is iconic and is what I picture every time I hear someone refer to underwear as 'panties' or look at Ted Cruz. I watch it at least monthly and urge everyone to do the same. (ET)


Reefer Madness (1936)

"Debauchery, violence, murder, suicide and the ultimate end of the marijuana addict: hopeless insanity" warns the unseen narrator in the original trailer for Reefer Madness about the dangers of toking up. If that tagline, coupled with eye roll-inducing images of a young woman going from canoodling her boyfriend to jumping out a window, don't already seem quaint in this era of increasing weed legalization, the narrator's caution about joints passed off as "harmless cigarettes" truly show what a different time we live in. Viva la revolución. (AS)

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