7 Famous Drug-Addicted Authors

As my blog posts about famous authors have proven to be popular with my followers and fellow authors I have decided to write a further instalment. Some of you may remember my series of posts about alcoholic authors. This week I turn my attentions to drug addicted authors.

Here are 7 famous drug addicted authors:


Stephen King 

Stephen King

(Born: September 21st 1947) 

Stephen King is a prolific, bestselling author, who has sold in excess of 350 million books over the course of his long and illustrious career. In the mid 1980s, King, who was already a heavy drinker, became a cocaine addict. That was until his wife Tabitha organised an intervention that began with her emptying a bin bag full of stuff she had collected from his office in front of him. The stuff included coke spoons, baggies, Xanax and Valium.


Samuel Taylor Coleridge


(21st October 1772 – 25th July 1834)

Samuel Taylor Coleridge was an English poet, whose most famous poems; The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla Khan, are still widely read to this day. Coleridge, an avid opium smoker from a young age, wrote Kubla Khan whilst under the influence. He was initially successful in keeping his addiction a secret, but when it became public knowledge his reputation was damaged. In later years the poet suffered respiratory and heart problems that contributed to his demise at the age of sixty-one.


Elizabeth Barrett Browning


(6th March 1806 – 29th June 1861)

Elizabeth Barrett Browning was one of England’s most famous poets during the Victorian era. In addition to producing poetry at a prolific rate, she campaigned for the abolition of slavery and influenced reform in child labour legislation. Browning was fourteen when she was prescribed laudanum (tincture of opium) for various illnesses. In adulthood the poet was adamant that her heavy opium use was helpful in sustaining her prolific writing output.


Aleister Crowley


(12th October 1875 – 1st December 1947)

Aleister Crowley was a controversial English novelist, poet and occultist, who maintained a prodigious writing output for much of his life. In 2002 a BBC poll placed Crowley seventy-third in a list of 100 Greatest Britons. After being prescribed a medicine containing heroin for his asthma, Crowley became addicted to the drug. Though his addiction was short-lived, he continued to experiment with a variety of substances, including marijuana, cocaine and peyote.


William S. Burroughs 


(5th February 1914 – 2nd August 1997)

William S. Burroughs was at the forefront of the Beat generation, influencing the likes of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg.  His works include eighteen novels, in addition to a number of novellas and short stories. One of his most famous books, Junkie, is a semi-autobiographical account of Burroughs’s heroin and opioid addiction, an addiction that lasted for nearly fifteen years. The iconic author lived to the relatively old age of eighty-three.

Philip K. Dick


(16th December 1928 – 2nd March 1982)

Philip K. Dick was a science fiction novelist, short story writer and essayist, who published 44 novels and 121 short stories. In 2007 Dick became the first science fiction writer to be included in The Library of America series. Although the author experimented with a variety of substances, his drug of choice was amphetamine, as he felt that it enhanced his writing productivity. Dick died aged 53 after a series of strokes.


Thomas De Quincey

de Quincey

(15th August 1785 – 8th December 1859)

Thomas Penson De Quincey was an English essayist and journalist, whose seminal work, Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, was the first book written about addiction in the Western world. Though De Quincey first used opium in 1804 to relieve his neuralgia, he initially used the drug no more than weekly, but in 1813 his use spiralled out of control and he became an addict. De Quincey continued to use opium for the rest of his life although he had periods of abstinence.


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