In novels and songs, in movies and plays and TV shows, addiction to drugs and alcohol is a frequent theme. Steve Earle's new novel "I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) is the latest, but here are some previous standouts in the fictional depiction of addiction in a variety of genres:
"Days of Wine and Roses" (1962): Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick play a nice married couple whose descent into alcoholism is chronicled with gritty precision.
"Sid & Nancy" (1986): Undone by drugs, punk rocker Sid Vicious and hanger-on Nancy Spungen (Gary Oldman and Chloe Webb, above) embrace their sordid fates: He ODs before he can stand trial for her murder.
"Valley of the Dolls" (1966): Jacqueline Susann's lurid potboiler about pill-popping actors, made into a 1967 film starring Patty Duke and Sharon Tate, seemed wildly daring when first published, but is tame and tepid by current standards.
"Requiem for a Dream" (1978): Hubert Selby Jr.'s odd mishmash of a novel about the family dynamics of drug addiction was made into a 2000 film starring Ellen Burstyn.
"The Long Voyage Home" (1917): In the classic one-act play by Eugene O'Neill, an alcoholic sailor named Oleson misses his final chance to see his long-lost family when he is bedeviled once more by the bottle.
"House" (2004-present): Gregory House (Hugh Laurie) is a whiz of a physician but a mess of a human being until he licks his addiction to prescription to painkillers in the Fox series.
"Sam Stone" (1971): John Prine, the pride of Maywood, paints a tragic portrait of a Vietnam veteran who returns home "with a Purple Heart and a monkey on his back." The chorus includes the unforgettable line, "There's a hole in daddy's arm where all the money goes…"Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun