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.