Depending on who you ask, drugs are bad, dangerous, and destructive, illicit substances that make those who partake in them stupid or lazy, or they are just the tool people need to help free their minds from the shackles of society.
Which camp is correct? There’s only one way to find out: you’ve got to hit the ‘flix. Netflix has a wide selection of drug documentaries, but like drugs themselves, some are more powerful or more fun than others. But don’t worry: Inverse is your plug when it comes to documentary lists. So clear out your queue and load up on the best mind-altering substance of all. Knowledge.
1. DMT: The Spirit Molecule
DMT: The Spirit Molecule has everything: interviews with spiritual leaders, scientific explanations, user testimonials, and even trippy visuals. Spotlighting the research of Dr. Rick Strassman, this documentary does a great job of connecting how the hallucinogen ayahuasca works with the chemical that our bodies naturally produce. If you liked legendary drug flick Enter the Void, then you won’t want to miss this movie.
2. Super High Me
Comedian Doug Benson really likes smoking weed, and his affinity for marijuana has been the subject of much of his comedy. So it’s only natural that if anyone were to attempt a Super Size Me-style challenge involving the constant consumption of marijuana, Benson would be the perfect test subject. This movie follows Benson through the sometimes hilarious, sometimes harrowing undertaking of being high all of the time for 30 straight days. It might not make a serious stoner reconsider their habits, but if you’re a more casual user — or even someone who has never gotten high — this film could be illuminating.
3. Glory Daze: The Life and Times of Michael Alig
Although this documentary about 1990s club promoter and murderer Michael Alig doesn’t deal with how drugs work on a scientific level, drug use and abuse are intimately interwoven throughout Alig’s narrative. And in the end, Glory Daze: The Life and Times of Michael Alig serves as a cautionary tale for anyone who’s a little too keen on ketamine. Alig has served as the subject for several fictional tales, including the Macaulay Culkin-starring masterpiece Party Monster. This documentary takes an unflinching look at his rise and downfall, using interviews with fellow scene members and culminating in his release from prison. It’s a chilling but worthwhile watch.
4. Sour Grapes
This film blends intrigue and trickery, with notes of humor made all the more prominent by the fact that it’s a true story. Sour Grapes follows Rudy Kurniawan, a so-called “wine connoisseur” who made millions of dollars by re-labeling generic wine bottles and selling them to the wine-loving elite prior to his arrest in 2012. The reveal of Kurniawan’s deception is a brilliant emperor-has-no-clothes plot twist, and one of his “victims” was a Koch brother. What’s not to like?
Icarus is a fascinating example of what can happen when a filmmaker is in the right place at the right time. Though the documentarian’s original intention was to explore the practice of doping on a conceptual level, what unfolds instead is the revelation of a nationwide doping scandal in Russian sports. Though this drug usage is more professional than recreational, it will nevertheless shock you, leaving you feeling the sort of high that accompanies a good piece of non-fiction.