Sherlock Holmes, The Junkie

Jan 22, 2013

Cover of a comic book shows Sherlock Holmes with a pistol skulking through a spooky graveyard
Sherlock Holmes faces enemies -- and the public's increasing disapproval of his cocaine addiction
Credit Scott Monty / Flickr

When the fictional character Sherlock Holmes took up his recreational cocaine habit, the drug was still considered a responsible alternative to alcohol. It was a thinking person’s drug. But the public perception of cocaine changed and in response, Holmes’ creator painted the great detective’s coke addiction in increasingly darker tones.

When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle revived his character from the dead for Collier’s Magazine, he could not ignore Holmes’ former addiction. That troubled past gives Holmes a complexity that inspires readers to this day.

Hear the story of Sherlock Holmes, the junkie.

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