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Cartoons on Drugs and What It Says About Addiction


Cartoons are a beloved pastime all around the world. For many kids, it feels like these characters played a part in raising them into the people they eventually become. Still, these characters are the product of writers, directors, and producers, and as such, could be morphed or insinuated to do whatever these creatives wished. Although it is typically implied as opposed to blatantly portrayed, characters in cartoons on drugs are a well-known occurrence, even when the references fly over the heads of young viewers. Our Banyan Treatment Center locations are looking at famous examples of these characters and what this says about addiction. 

Examples of Cartoon Characters on Drugs and Alcohol 

These characters come from a wide range of media, including tv, movies, and even advertisements. What they all have in common is an affinity for metaphorical or literal vices that may serve as a theme for episodes, humor, and an appeal to parents and older viewers.


When foiled in his attempts to save his beloved Olive Oil, this one-eyed sailor pops open a can of spinach to give him the boost he needs. This has frequently been alluded to as a reference for steroids, especially considering the aggressive nature Popeye exhibits upon eating it. His muscles grow, steam escapes his ear, and he saves the day. But at what cost? 

Sonny the Cuckoo Bird 

This Cocoa Puffs cereal mascot affliction for the product in question seems to border on addiction. He cannot go without it and loses his mind until he gets his fix. Even at times when he attempts to break away from his addiction, other commercial characters entice his cravings until he relapses and relents. 

The Caterpillar 

This Alice in Wonderland character uses one of the most blatant examples of animated drugs on this list. Smoking from an obvious hookah, he speaks in metaphors and does not make much sense, which is the theme of this mystical viewing experience. It is no surprise that this character serves as an artistic symbol for stoner and drug-related artwork all over the internet. 


The most easily recognizable name and face of Snow White’s seven beloved sidekicks, the character’s name itself alludes to the name used to describe illicit drugs. Dopey does not speak, is easily distracted, and in a way, lives in his own world. Although he does not use a particular substance on screen, his mannerism and characteristics can be attributed to those of a pot smoker. 

Shaggy Rogers 

Speaking of smokers, one of the most well-known tv characters with addiction would have to be Scooby Doo’s beloved partner, Shaggy. He is constantly hungry and frequently concocts outrageous snacks and meals, which he only shares with his dog. He even has an affliction for dog treats himself. The 2002 feature film even poked fun at the stereotype when it framed a shot of smoke escaping from a van with Shaggy spouting the phrase, “talk about toasted.” It then pans in to show him grilling burgers.  

Brian Griffin 

Another example of an addicted cartoon character is this wise-cracking writer, who just happens to be a dog. The jokes about Brian’s alcoholism have grown more prevalent as the show has developed, with one episode having the character being ordered to attend AA along with his owner, Peter. This was not a successful endeavor, and the dog continues to drink in the background of several scenes. 

Normalization Does Not Make It Okay 

No matter how the symbol is packaged, cartoons on drugs, metaphorical or literal, do not send a positive message to their young viewers. Jokes and innuendos may seem innocent, but their prevalence is anything but. These are people at an age where they will do anything to fit in, and when they go home to see a character acting like they are under the influence, it makes it more likely that the viewer will want to try it themselves. 

If you find that a loved one exhibits addictive tendencies, our Banyan rehab center offers excellent options for programming to help them get their life back on track. Individuals 18 or older can access our varying levels of care, from partial hospitalization to outpatient and even full-time residential care. 

To learn more about our options for Banyan addiction treatment, call our intake specialists today at 888-280-4763 and get your recovery journey started. 


Related Reading 

Instagram Cracks Down on Social Media Drugs & Content 

Movies About Addiction 

Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.
Cartoons on Drugs and What It Says About Addiction
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