5 Major Historical Figures Who Were Drunk or High
If Hitler’s ill-advised plan to invade Russia during WWII seemed like the schemings of a coked-up misanthrope, that’s because they were. Invading Russia is the kind of idea that sounds great when you’re locked in the bathroom with a guy named Lion at a Malibu mansion party at 4:30 a.m., but you don’t actually do it, man. Hitler’s doctor fed him 80 drugs a day, including rat poison, amphetamines, morphine and bull semen, which he needed to get the old Luftwaffe up, if you know what we mean. He also is said to have snorted coke, because even though he was the leader of Germany, and it was the 1940, the drug choice of assholes is universal.
Hitler’s nemesis Winston Churchill drank. A lot. Most historians stop short of calling the English Prime Minister an alcoholic, but Churchill liked a little Johnny Walker and water in the morning and a lot of booze with his meals. Are reports of his drinking prowess exaggerated? Possibly. He cultivated a public image of being a big imbiber, but in private he made comments that would have obliterated that image. Still, alcohol was a large and ever-present part of his life, so it was either truth or self-delusion when he said, “I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me.” Sounds like the kind of clever thing a guy who’s had three gins would say.
It was, of course, inevitable that Churchill and Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin would get blasted together. British archives reveal that during a 1942 visit to Moscow between the two leaders “food of all kinds… and innumerable bottles” were present and the mood was “merry as a marriage-bell,” eventually leading Churchill to complain of a “slight headache” by 1 a.m. Joseph Stalin—what a fun guy! Well, he was fun unless you were one of the 27 million soldiers who died under his command during the war or one of the millions of Soviet citizens who were killed afterwards. Then his late-night drinking parties might be seen as less charming and as more of a liability.
2 Joan of Arc
How does a teenage French girl lead men successfully into battle, become a folk heroine, die at 19 and become a Catholic saint? Bravery, faith, skill and, possibly, weed and mushrooms. Joan of Arc is famously said to have heard voices from God. Naturally, the locals cried “witch,” and she was accused of using that witch drug cannabis. The magazine “High Times” speculates that Joan of Arc was under the influence of mushrooms, writing, “Accounts of psilocybin mushroom use include a quickening of the consciousness, mental and spiritual revelations and sometimes, profound self-discovery. The visions, voices, bright light and cosmic revelations that Joan reported are strikingly similar to the grand visions, voices, bright light and cosmic revelations of other prophets throughout time.” Way to totally make religion awesome again, High Times.
1 Alexander the Great
He was perhaps the greatest military leader of all time. He was also, perhaps, a raging drunk. The young genius who conquered the world is said to have drunkenly killed his friend Cleitus, a man who had saved him in battle, drunkenly destroyed the grand city of Persepolis, the crown jewel of his achievements and later, died while drunk. In addition to supposedly liking his ouzo a little too much, Alexander is also the guy who gave Persia and India opium, so if you’re from the Middle East or India and your economy and quality of life have been savaged by the scourge of opium, that was Alexander the Great’s bad. For a guy who owned the entire civilized world and everything and everyone within it, the dude was pretty unhappy. Alexander the Great solved the Gordian Knot of Phrygia, but he could not untie the one inside him.