Renton's Addiction in the "Trainspotting" Movie | Free Essay Example

Renton’s Addiction in the “Trainspotting” Movie

Words: 1974
Topic: Sociology


Drug addiction remains one of the major problems that affect modern-day youths. According to Perfas (2003), youths never realize that they are getting addicted until such a time when it is too late to fight the addiction. In most of the cases, they get into drugs to get accepted by their peers. They get convinced that doing drugs is cool and gives the user some supernormal powers. When they start using it, they get high and start to believe the myths and misconceptions about the use of drugs.

However, the more they use these drugs the more they get wasted away. They find themselves obsessed with drugs. They are forced to do anything just to get money to buy drugs. Given that most of the time they are often high on drugs, they cannot find time to engage in meaningful work that can earn them some money. They are forced to resort to crime as the only way of getting money to buy drugs.

Rehabilitation of such youths is the only solution that can help in transforming them into normal people who respect the rule of law and can earn a living the right way. Rehabilitation helps them fight addiction, freeing their system from overreliance on drugs. In this paper, the researcher will review the character of Renton in the Trainspotting Movie.

Main Issues in the Movie

In this movie, there are several issues that come out very clearly which need the attention of a counselor. First, the use of various types of drugs by the youth in Edinburgh is worrying. It is affecting their health, social life, and their current and future economic status. Alcoholism is another major issue affecting society. Once the youth take alcohol, they lose control of themselves. They engage in immoral activities that expose them to diseases and unplanned pregnancies. They become socially irresponsible and unable to perform basic tasks such as simple hygiene in their immediate environment.


Renton is one of the main characters in this movie whose life demonstrates the pattern that youths take towards becoming drug addicts. The movie gives a brief insight into his family and we can learn that his mother is a drug addict. He says, “My mother is also a drug addict” (Macdonald 1996).

This background information helps in explaining some of the factors that could have led to him becoming a drug addict. It is possible that when he was a child, he was exposed to some form of drugs that were used by the mother. In the movie, we see a young child living with the addicts being constantly exposed to the smoke from the drugs and contaminated instruments that the mother and her friends use when they are administering drugs. It is possible that Renton was also brought up in a similar environment.

At one moment, we see him trying to straighten up his life and move away from drug addiction. He cleans up the house, makes some repair, and promises to change his way of life. However, his efforts are thwarted when his friends, most of whom are addicts, convince him to get back to drugs. Renton says, “I chose not to choose life. I chose something else” (Macdonald 1996). He chose to go back to addiction and this decision had serious consequences on him.

The pain and anguish that he had to endure as an addict was great. For instance, he dropped his drugs in a very dirty toilet. He had to dip his hand into the toilet to trace them. It was so disgusting when he was forced to plunge into the toilet to trace his drugs. The drive-in him towards drugs was stronger than any other force. He reached a stage where he was willing to do anything just to get drugs. We also see him engaged in a romantic relationship with a teenage girl.

Assessment and Case Formulation of the Client

A critical analysis of the life of Renton reveals that he is a person of strong character. As the movie begins, we meet a young man who is in the wrong company but determined to change. He knows very well that drug addiction is wrong and dangerous to his health. I have witnessed many cases where clients strongly believe that drug and alcohol abuse poses danger to their lives. Most of the addicts argue that drugs and alcohol give meaning to their lives and without which then life becomes miserable (Metsch, Miles, & McCoy, 2009).

However, Renton has demonstrated that he knows about the dangers of using drugs. That is why he says that he chose not to choose life when he started engaging in drugs. In my experience as a professional counselor, I know that dealing with such clients can sometimes be very challenging. Hanson (2001) says that it is easy to transform a drug addict who previously did not clearly understand the dangers of using drugs. However, for the person who knows the dangers of drugs, nothing will come as a surprise to them (Henderson, Dohan, & Schmidt, 2006). It makes it necessary to repackage the message in a way that will make him learn something new from the counseling session.

I noticed that Renton knows about the law and is keen not to break them because he fears going to jail. In one of the incidences, he meets a young lady whom he gets romantically involved with after a night out. To him, the girl looks mature and very responsible.

However, it comes as a shock to him when he later realized that the girl was underage and a high school student. He is very remorseful and vows to cancel the relationship. The feeling of remorse is very important when planning to transform an addict (Jones, 2006). It can be used as a tool that will make them see the sense of changing their irresponsible lifestyle. It offers a good starting point when counseling him.

Renton comes out as a rational person who always knows what is right and wrong, and he is willing to avoid doing the wrong thing. According to Hales (2008), when planning to start a counseling session, sometimes it may be necessary to determine if the client is rational or not in their actions. In this movie, some of Renton’s friends would viciously attack innocent individuals without remorse. However, this is not the case with our client. Sometimes he engaged in criminal activities like stealing from the elderly who are receiving treatments in nursing homes. At the back of his mind, he knows that it is wrong to steal. As a counselor, I know that dealing with such clients may not pose a serious challenge (Hall, Amodeo, & Bilt, 2010).

According to Metsch and Pollack (2005), the ability of a drug or alcohol addict to transform largely depends on their will power. Their resolve to quit addiction determines their chances of freeing themselves from drugs and alcohol in the rehabilitation centers (Leukefeld, Gullotta, & Gregrich, 2011).

I believe that Renton has the will power. His biggest weakness is the wrong group of friends that keeps dragging him back to the abuse of drugs and alcohol every time he makes a positive step away from the use of drugs and alcohol. As a counselor, I believe that one of the biggest tasks that Renton will have to do is to keep away from most of his current friends. He can stay in the company of Tommy. Renton describes Tommy as a sincere person. He never took drugs, he never lied to anyone, and he never cheated on anyone. Such friends may help him become a better person.

Substance Abuse Counseling Model

Recent studies have shown that those who struggle with addiction to drugs and alcohol also have some form of mental problems. Gorman (2008) says that “Many people who struggle with a drug or alcohol problem do so as a way of coping with depression or stress, and consuming harmful substances can severely damage mental health,” (p. 67).

When choosing an appropriate model for counseling Renton, I will take into consideration the fact that he is struggling with mental problems such as depression and stress. As such, the most appropriate model would be an Integrated Treatment Model. This model helps in addressing substance abuse and mental health problems simultaneously. This will eliminate cases where the client makes positive progress only to relapse because of these mental issues. The figure below shows the model that I intend to use when handling this patient.

Integrated Treatment Model.
Figure 1: Integrated Treatment Model.

I will start by finding ways of excluding Renton from some of his friends who have been a negative influence on his social life. I will strictly ensure that Tommy is the only friend that he keeps. The schoolgirl she met at the club is also another bad influence because she is an alcoholic hence he will need to find a way of detaching himself from her despite the blackmail. According to Stevens & Smith (2013), the first step in helping drug and alcohol addicts is to ensure that they are in the right company.

Friends are a major influence on what a person does. The next step will be to use this model to address issues of addiction and mental problems. I will ask him to state the reasons that could have led him to be an addict. I will be interested in identifying mental-related problems such as stress or depression. I will write down all the factors that he mentions, from peer pressure to family issues, and personal problems. After gathering comprehensive information that led him into addiction, I will request him to state the factors that led to his relapse when he had started making a successful effort to quit the use of drugs and alcohol. I will then address these mental issues as the patient starts his medication. The two will run concurrently.

I believe the outcome will be a complete recovery from the use of drugs and alcohol. Jones (2006) says that when mental issues and drug addiction problems are addressed concurrently, then it is often likely that the outcome will be satisfactory. The main challenge that I expect is how to pull Renton away from his friends. I will consider taking him to a rehabilitation center as the only support available that can make him stay away from the negative influence of his friends.

Ethical issues

One of the ethical codes that may arise when handling the patient is the need to avoid favoritism. All the friends of Renton who are drug and alcohol addicts also need some form of help. Singling Renton out and separating him from his friends may create an impression that he is favored among the rest. There is also the code of secrecy that I will need to observe. Renton has been involved in antisocial behavior that he may not be willing to share with me for fear of victimization.

I will need to offer him an assurance that I will neither judge him harshly nor report him to the authorities. For instance, his romantic relationship with the underage girl may earn him a term in prison. I am bound by my ethical code of practice never to share our discussions with anyone else.


Trainspotting is a very interesting movie that brings out the life of youths who have become drug addicts. Renton and his friends rely on drugs and alcohol to normalize their body systems. The addiction is so bad that sometimes they engage in criminal activities just to get money for drugs and alcohol. They all need professional help to overcome their condition. The study has looked at ways and steps through which Renton can be helped to overcome his addiction. The rest may need to go through the same procedure.


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