Government Drug Enforcement

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

In many Dystopian settings, The Government forces everyone to take psychoactive drugs. Maybe it's to keep them peaceful and non-aggressive so they don't hurt each other (or more cynically, to keep them too mellow and torpid to have the energy and desire to revolt). Maybe it's birth control pills to keep the population in check. Maybe it's outright Mind Control. Maybe it's Super Serum to keep their Supersoldiers, well, super. But those who refuse to take the drugs are put into prison, or worse. Or perhaps it's just strongly encouraged to take the drugs, with only outright troublemakers forced to take the drugs whether they like it or not.

Not to be confused with Everybody Must Get Stoned, which is simply the group version of the Mushroom Samba. Closely related to May Contain Evil, but in this case, it's The Government and not merely a Corporation spreading drugs around.

Examples of Government Drug Enforcement include:


  • Doctor Strangelove—Yes, some nutjobs actually thought fluoridated water was this trope, a communist plot to pollute our precious bodily fluids.
    • Some still do (see Real Life folder).
  • Equilibrium—Prozium injections suppress emotions. The injections are in tiny vials shaped like bullets, and injected with a device that looks like a gun, directly into the neck, just in case we didn't get that it was a form of metaphorical suicide of the self.
  • Panther—The hoary old conspiracy theory that the U.S. government secretly invented crack and encouraged gangsters to sell drugs in the Black ghettoes to keep Blacks down is presented as fact.
  • Serenity -- The Alliance dispersed G-23 Paxilon Hydrochlorate, a drug designed to reduce aggression, into the atmosphere of the planet Miranda. Ninety-nine point nine percent of the population became so docile that they lay down and let themselves starve to death, and one tenth of a percent become the maniacal, cannibalistic Reavers. Oops.
  • Starship Troopers—Future soldiers in an endless Bug War are allowed otherwise-illegal drugs, including time-released cocaine, to keep them awake and alert during prolonged engagements.
  • THX 1138 had the populace kept under control with sedatives, to prevent them from having sex, or otherwise acting in unapproved ways.
  • Children of Men. Numerous advertisements are seen for 'Quietus', which is either available on demand or is actually issued together with each citizen's anti-depressant ration. The instructions assure the would-be user that not only is it quick and painless, but no-one has survived taking it.
  • In Repo! The Genetic Opera the Mega Corp GeneCo (which is the closest thing to a government the setting represents) produces the highly addictive and euphoric painkiller Zydrate, which it uses in all of its surgical operations. Since the vast majority of the population will require at least one organ transplant, a huge majority are addicted to Zydrate, and the fact that most of the rest become addicted to surgery means that Zydrate is in high demand so that surgeries can be engaged in casually. GeneCo's monopoly on Zydrate and synthetic organs is thus vital to its controlling the populace (preventing anyone from questioning their repossession policies), and attempts to illegally acquire Zydrate from corpses are usually met with lethal force. Zydrate addiction recovery programs are also under GeneCo's control. It is also likely that post-surgery addiction to the (expensive) Zydrate is the reason that so many miss their organ payments.
  • In Wild In The Streets, the first teenage president forces all the grown-ups into concentration camps and fed LSD.
  • All of the teenagers in Springwood take hypnocil whether they know it or not in Freddy vs Jason.


  • Battlefield Earth—The evil alien Psychlos are being manipulated by the even more evil Catrists through brain surgery and mind control drugs, to prevent them from allowing advanced technology from falling into the hands of less-advanced species.
  • Brave New World—Soma, a euphoric drug that keeps everyone happy, no matter how awful or boring their life becomes. Plus, everyone must take birth control drugs to ensure that all children are born in government-run in-vitro baby farms. Finally, the lower castes are given alcohol while still in-vitro to make them stupid physically and mentally challenged, so they accept their low-level menial tasks as merely their proper lot in life.
  • The Forever War—Future soldiers in an endless war are allowed otherwise-illegal drugs to keep them awake and alert for long periods of time.
    • A much better example from the same book is when the main character visits his mother early in the war (Roughly 30 years has passed since he left due to relativistic effects.) His brother, who lives on Luna, tells him not to smoke his mother's pot ration, because Earth pot is drugged.
  • House of the Scorpion Clones, in order for the general populace to be able to accept their status as nonhuman, must be given drugs at birth to stunt their intelligence. The protagonist Matt is an exception to the rule.
  • In the Honor Harrington universe, the evil corporation Manpower, Inc. uses a combination of genetic engineering and powerful medication to control a population of "genetic slaves" to do manual labor, serve as Super Soldiers, and act as sex slaves. Also, it's heavily hinted that Haven used drugs in the drinking water and food supply to keep a lid on rebellious proles in their welfare state gone wild. In a slightly more benevolent mode, it's a given that all the militaries which have men and women serving in the same units require them to be on contraceptives while on active duty. This is also apparently the policy regarding prisoners of war, explicitly stated as being the practice on the Havenite prison planet Hell where the food was laced with them.
  • The Giver—Aside from the usual birth control pills, people are given painkillers for every little hurt, to keep them from feeling even that most basic of emotions, pain.
    • It's not just birth control with the painkillers—the mandatory pills also remove "stirrings," or sexual desire. Jonas is put on the pills soon after he has his first Erotic Dream about Fiona, a female friend.
  • In the Green-Sky Trilogy, the Wissenberry is considered sacred and given out freely among the Kindar population to abate any kind of physical or "mind" pain. Teachers even pass them out in school to keep the children calm and compliant. (Snyder was a teacher, and the school system drugging unruly students is Older Than They Think). Raamo's eight-year-old sister is "wasting" to death due to her addiction to the Berries. Widespread addiction in the population is also cited as one of the symptoms of the society itself being ill. To a lesser extent, birth control wafers are passed out among Kindar from the ages of 13-25 so that the youth can obstensibly concentrate on their apprenticeships. Ol-Zhaan, however, are forbidden families of their own.
  • This Perfect Day—Mandatory treatments keep everyone peaceful, helpful, and kind...and suppress the sex drive and other emotions, as well as preventing unapproved pregnancies.
  • The Disciples Of The Black God in The Illuminatus! Trilogy traffic heroin to keep the ghettos from becoming riot hotspots. What motive they, as a black militant, Afro-centric, anti-goverment group, have in this, isn't exactly explained.
    • Also inverted: at one point it's explained that the Illuminati has an experimental program going on to keep main population dull and bored - the manager in charge of the project F.D. Roosevelt! explains how they remain immune because they're allowed access to Weishaupt's wonder herb, namely cannabis.
  • The Awakening Water, in which the water supply is spiked with an unspecified drug to keep people (or at least workers) docile and stupid.
  • "Welcome to the Monkey House" a short story by Kurt Vonnegut had everyone taking something that numbed the groin area and prevented having sex for pleasure in order to keep the population down. The title came from the fact it was invented by a zoo veterinarian who was also a devout Christian upset by the monkeys having sex unabashedly in full view of everyone, so it was first used to cut that nonsense out.
  • In Piers Anthony's Bio of a Space Tyrant: Executive, the eponymous Space Tyrant puts birth control in the drinking water, and demands any country that receives foreign aid do the same. He also allows euthanasia pills to the suicidal.
  • The science fiction story "Toe to Tip, Tip to Toe, Pip-Pop as You Go" by William F Nolan. The government keeps everyone in perpetual drugged states and the "deviants" are straight.
  • Jonathan Lethem's Gun, with Occasional Music, a futuristic Film Noir-style story, tells us about a world where the population takes a variety of state-supplied drugs like Forgetol, Acceptol and Regretol (collectively called "Make") to get them through the day.
    • Originally, there were many different varieties of drugs that produced pleasurable effects; which individuals could blend as they wanted. Their use was optional, not mandatory. After six years in cryogenic sleep, the protagonist wakes up to a world in which the government mandated the use of a single drug, which dulled the mind and disrupted memory.
  • Homeworld by Harry Harrison. The upper-class protagonist is initially surprised at the idea that the proles might be rebellious, as the government lets them have all the drugs and booze they want.
  • Larry Niven's Known Space in the early period, where birth control was mandatory, anti-paranoid drugs were mandatory for those diagnosed with it, and by the time of the 1st Man-Kzin War thinking of a violent act was a psychological disorder (treated by drugs). In later works (Beowulf Schaefer/Louis Wu era), the cops were taking drugs to CAUSE paranoia!
  • The Reveal of The Futurological Congress is that a conspiracy of scientists is pumping colossal amounts of hallucinogens into the atmosphere so that humanity doesn't realize how utterly, utterly awful reality is... Then another Reveal is that even that was a hallucination.
  • In the short story "The Cull" by Robert Reed, humanity has been driven into overcrowded, deteriorating habitats where the population has to be kept artificially happy via implants so they won't notice how bad their conditions are, and the android doctor expels (culls) anyone who is too disruptive. One delinquent teenager prepares for his cull by stealing items he can use to survive outside. Instead once they're outside the android kills the teenager -- it needs the implants inside his head as there's no more being manufactured.
  • In Matched by Ally Condie, every person carries around a case with 3 pills in it. The green pill is like a mild antidepressant, and the red pill wipes your memory of the past two days.
  • In Across the Universe, the leader of the Generation Ship Godspeed has drugs put into the water supply to keep the crew happy and docile.
  • Short story "Who's Gonna Rock Us Home" by Nancy Springer has mandatory drug Cope, which induces memory loss to prevent the mind-numbing drudgery of daily life from depressing people.

Live Action TV

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer - The Initiative, an undercover demon hunting operation bent on creating a Biological Mashup of demon/human/cybernetic parts, secretly feeds its very human agents with performance enhancing drugs. Expect usual withdrawal symptoms.
  • Babylon 5—The government and Psi Corps required that any telepath who refused to join the Corps and accept Corps discipline take drugs to suppress their telepathic abilities. Unsurprisingly, this is worse than it sounds. The drugs also make you suicidally depressed, which is what happened to Ivanova's mother.
  • Blakes Seven—The cult on Cygnus Alpha used a fake medicine against a supposed horrific plague (actually a minor environmental poison that cleared itself within days) in place of communion wafers, to keep the cultists in line.
    • In the pilot, the Federation's food and water supplies are laced with "emotional suppressants." The rebel approaching Blake insists he eat or drink nothing for three days to get them out of his system.
  • Sliders—On one of the Planet of Hats alternate worlds they visit, the U.S. government mandates drug use, and the alternate Quinn Mallory is a leader of the anti-drug resistance.
    • The reason for this was Einstein becoming a neurochemist instead of physicist. Don't ask.
    • The people who sold things to make you clean being an underground market was quite hilarious.
      • Speaking of which, the above mentioned counterpart of Quinn's, the one leading the anti-drug resistance? A video shows that he's a hippie. And that his message is to "Get low."
    • All people (in US, at least) have implants in their arms that allow for direct intravenous injections without risk of infection. Using syringes is seen as barbaric. The police make sure everyone stays tranquil and happy. If someone acts out, they shoot them... with a tranquilizer gun.
  • Star Trek—Done several times over the series and movies, both in the Federation and on various Planet of Hats worlds.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation Episode "Symbiosis", where Planet A helps Planet B overcome a plague by selling them medicine...medicine which is also a highly addictive drug. When the plague is long gone, Planet A doesn't tell Planet B, so they will keep buying and using the drug, even though it's bankrupting their society.
    • Also, in the TNG pilot episode, Q mentions that, during the late-21st century wars of WW3 and its aftermath, human supersoldiers were constantly hopped up on narcotics to give them endurance, strength, and artificial courage bordering on insanity.
    • In Deep Space Nine, the Jem'Hadar are kept under control by the Founders with their genetic addiction to Ketracel White, sort of a combination narcotic and nutrient supplement.
    • The movie Star Trek: Insurrection features the alien Son'a, who want to take over a peaceful planet in order to use its naturally-occurring radiation as a mandatory life-extending drug for their own population.
      • Manufacture of ketracel white was also stated to be one of the Son'a's main industries, with the implication, confirmed in an episode of Deep Space Nine, that the Dominion were their main clients.
  • Several episodes of The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits.
  • At any given moment in the Village, the water, the food, and even the air may be spiked to make you more comfortable. Constant drugging is all part of being in The Prisoner.


  • Uprising by Muse
  • Year Zero by Nine Inch Nails includes lyrics about The Government forcing everyone to take drugs to keep the populace quiet and happy.
  • Many political rappers like to repeat the conspiracy theory about CIA and the drug lords (see Real Life section).
  • Dead Kennedy's "Kinky Sex Makes The World Go Round":

Now don't worry about demonstrations-just pump up your drug supply.
So many people have hooked themselves on heroin
and amphetamines since we took over, it's just like Vietnam.
We had everybody so busy with LSD they never got too strong.

  • BL/ind Thought Adjustment Test: "I'm so happy to be alive. Everything is going to be fine. Have I taken my medication today?"

Professional Wrestling

  • Despite the WWE's "Wellness Policy", many people believe that Vince McMahon "encourages" his wrestlers to take steroids (and by "encourage" we mean "threaten with being wished well in their future endeavors"). Not helping: The fact that Vince himself has admitted to taking steroids. ...and the whole Chris Benoit thing guy-who-went-crazy-that was-in-no-way-linked-to-any-drug-abuse thing.


  • "Le Trente-Huit Cunegonde", on The Firesign Theatre's album Waiting for the Electrician or Someone Like Him, describes a hippie-run future where drug use and rebellion are rigorously enforced by the Establishment. It opens with two police officers accosting a girl because she's not wearing a mini-skirt, and when they discover she doesn't have any drugs on her, they send her in for "re-grooving".

Cop #1: Dig, Larry: aspirin.
Cop #2: Do her a favor, phone her in.
Girl: I'm telling ya, I took all the uppers! You wanna hear me rap? "I saw the best minds of my generation..."
Cop #1: Put her in the car.

Tabletop RPG

  • In Paranoia, the Computer laces the food supply with hormone suppressants to keep the citizens from breeding (it prefers to clone them). In the supplement Acute Paranoia, the Computer requires all citizens to take a bewildering variety of drugs on a regular basis, which helps explain how messed up Alpha Complex is.
    • One of the incentives to climb the status and security clearance ladder is that higher clearance levels has far less forced drugs. Just coming out of that Infra-red haze upon gaining Red clearance is a major wakeup. The food's better, too.
      • Curiously, the second edition rulebook (and maybe some others) indicates that Friend Computer often provides more drugs as a bonus to particularly successful Troubleshooters (although in the context of Paranoia, a "successful Troubleshooter" is the one whose Chronic Backstabbing Disorder is most pronounced). Meaning that when the PURGEr comes to assassinate you for PURGE, our heroic Troubleshooter's reaction goes "You're pointing a gun at me. Cool."
        • Paranoia XP explicitly makes drugs a reward. Paranoia XP explicitly makes drugs a punishment. This is why Paranoia is so much fun!
        • It's less forced drugs (and more real food), but you can take more drugs voluntarily.
  • Many, many Cyberpunk Role-playing settings have governments or corporations using this trope to try and keep the little people in line.
  • A fantasy-world version appears in the early Dungeons & Dragons adventure "B4: The Lost City", in which the corrupt priests of Zargon have gotten most of the population of Cynidecia addicted to an unspecified cocktail of drugs. Presumably this makes it easier to control the masses, and/or to convince them to worship a deity as grotesque as Zargon.
  • In Aberrant, all newly erupted novas (people with superpowers) are secretly fed sterility drugs along with the drugs given to help them control their powers in order to prevent the breeding of a superpowered race.
  • Happens from time to time in Warhammer 40K. Combat Stimulants range from being allowed to encouraged to mandated by law, depending on your regiment. It's mentioned that several of the less pleasant planets and more brutal regimes tend to (subtly or otherwise) drug their citizens to prevent drastic self-inflicted population reductions. The Space Marines don't even count, since 2/3 of their drug programs exist simply to make sure that their genetically-modified and cybernetically-enhanced bodies don't just go haywire shut down.
    • Rogue Trader has a variant Life Sustainer that drugs up the ship's atmosphere - in this mode Morale goes up, crew skill goes down, and boarders suffer penalties. Morale drops for a while when happy gas is turned off, however.

Video Games


  • In the "Paradise" storyline of Sluggy Freelance, Riff is sent to 4U City in an Alternate Universe, where everyone is constantly drugged to keep them happy and docile, and hovering robots follow people around and inject them with syringes if they show any signs of unhappiness.
    • This of course turns out to be a last resort method originally employed by that universe' Riff, to keep the city blissfully unaware that they are the only remaining humans on earth, and the entire universe is falling apart due to the damage a recent war has done to the fabric of reality. Crapsack World indeed.

Western Animation

  • On The Venture Bros the compound Dr. Venture Senior built was intended to have some calming drugs filtered into the air, so people didn't freak out about the thermonuclear war going on outside. However, the Master Computer disagreed with this plan and decided on the "giving them too much of a good thing" method of punishment, and flooded the compound with a massive quantity of drugs that caused terrifying hallucinations.
  • In one Futurama episode featuring Blurnsball (a HIGHLY modified game of baseball), Prof. Farnsworth revealed that for the past few centuries professional athletes have been required to take steroids.
  • The "Genetic Enabling Factor" given to the Supertroopers in Galaxy Rangers. The youngest of the 'Troopers (who becomes the show's Lancer) refuses to take his dose. Walsh is about to order Shane to take the stuff, but Nagata proposes using him as a control instead. Shane's refusal to take the drugs may have helped him remain sane when Senator Wheiner doesed the 'troopers with Psycho Serum.

Real Life

  • If vitamins and vaccines could be considered drugs, then most developed nations in the modern world had at least made some effort to subsidize, if not quite force at gunpoint, their citizens to take anything from Vitamin Enriched food (Vitamin B fortified bread for example) to counter some nutritional deficit or have some government program to ensure their citizens, children in particular, are vaccinated against polio, chicken pox, etc.
  • The dangerously, clinically, non-functionally insane (true or not), where government run mental health care is available, tend to be given drug regimes in the hopes of managing their illness. Since they ARE Insane, their consent (or awareness) about this is moot.
    • Which is why giving consent is usually handled by a family member or next of kin. This is also true of people who have been incapacitated by injury or disease and are unable to communicate.
  • The military examples above are Truth in Television up to a point; aircrew are permitted to take dextroamphetamine in order to maintain their alertness if it's necessary to exceed peacetime limitations on how long they can remain at the controls without rest, as well as tranquillisers to help them come down from the high once their mission is complete. This is strictly voluntary except in the very gravest emergency scenarios, however, and many pilots choose to take their chances with the dangers of fatigue.
  • Fluoridation of public water sources, intended to prevent dental cavities in the population. Some people get really twitchy about this one—in particular, the John Birch Society was famously upset by it.
  • Old laws actually make illegal for a person to NOT take drugs if suffering from things like TB or syphilis (and in modern age, AIDS). Threat of high death toll from epidemics usually trumped other concerns.
  • Despite the ban on steroids and other performance enhancing drugs during the Olympics and such, there are occasional (true or false) accusations of drug use. That top level athletes under government sponsorship (and scrutiny) can get drugs lead some to suspect it was the government themselves (or a suitably plausible deniable agent) who give the athletes drugs.