In the original stories, Sherlock Holmes was addicted to cocaine. When the author, Conan Doyle, learned more about the dangers of cocaine, he wrote that Sherlock Holmes had quit cocaine by being gradually weaned off it by Watson.

A Seven-Percent Solution – Sherlock Homes and Cocaine

The notion that Sherlock Holmes could have been a cocaine addict seems absurd. However, even in A Study in Scarlet, the first work featuring Holmes, there were hints that Sherlock Holmes might have been using drugs.

” . . . for days on end he would lie upon the sofa in the sitting-room, hardly uttering a word or moving a muscle from morning to night. On these occasions I have noticed such a dreamy, vacant expression in his eyes, that I might have suspected him of being addicted to the use of some narcotic, had not the temperance and cleanliness of his whole life forbidden such a notion.”

Later it became quite clear that Sherlock Holmes was indeed using drugs. The Sign of Four opens with an alarming scene:

Sherlock Holmes took hi… Continue Reading (2 minute read)

7 thoughts on “In the original stories, Sherlock Holmes was addicted to cocaine. When the author, Conan Doyle, learned more about the dangers of cocaine, he wrote that Sherlock Holmes had quit cocaine by being gradually weaned off it by Watson.”

  1. ryschwith

    Another fun one: Holmes was unaware that the Earth orbits the Sun until Watson mentioned it to him. Doyle very much conceived him as someone who was so wrapped up in detective work that nothing outside of it mattered to him.

  2. wfaulk

    The first apparent mention of his cocaine use was in *The Sign of Four*, which is only the second Holmes story. At its first mention, the very beginning of the novel, Watson was already upset at Holmes’s use:

    > “But consider!” I said, earnestly. “Count the cost! Your brain may, as you say, be roused and excited, but it is a pathological and morbid process, which involves increased tissue-change and may at last leave a permanent weakness. You know, too, what a black reaction comes upon you. Surely the game is hardly worth the candle. Why should you, for a mere passing pleasure, risk the loss of those great powers with which you have been endowed? Remember that I speak not only as one comrade to another, but as a medical man to one for whose constitution he is to some extent answerable.”

    He doesn’t seem exactly unaware of the dangers of cocaine at this point.

  3. GameHunter1095

    It’s crazy to think that back in the day being addicted to cocaine was actually pretty popular but no one talked about it. What’s crazier is they shot it up more than they snorted it. I can’t imagine all the people sharing dull dirty needles and all the desease that was transferred from one person to the next.

  4. Derp_State_Agent

    “Douse your sex in it”

    Thackery > Holmes

  5. GOLEMTRADER

    Ahhh, so that’s why they gave house an opiate addiction.

  6. irving_braxiatel

    The Nicholas Meyers book ‘The Seven Per Cent Solution’ takes the idea of Holmes’s cocaine addiction and runs with it – definitely recommend it, if you’re a fan of the stories.

  7. AnotherJasonOnReddit

    “My dear Watson, do you remember MyCocaine?”

    “Why, yes, Holmes. Didn’t he play you in 1989’s Without A Clue?”

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