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The Movie “Trainspotting” by Danny Boyle


The problem of drug addiction has been a common subject in cinema for many years. First, it allows attracting the attention of the general public to this topic. Second, different techniques of cinema enable filmmakers to depict in detail all the negative sides of the issue, leaving the public with a negative impression. Third, this topic is quite extensive and acute, so movies allow people to be more aware of what is happening in addicts’ lives. Scriptwriters and directors pay great attention to the elaboration of the characters of such films to show them in the most realistic way. A striking example of such a character is the heroin addict Mark Renton from the movie Trainspotting (1996) by Danny Boyle. The purpose of this paper is to describe this character, his health issue, and methods of its treatment.

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Client Identification

Mark is a typical heroin addict: his addiction started many years ago. One of the main supporting factors is the company of his friends and acquaintances. They are also addicts, so it is difficult for him to stop using drugs. The progressive stage of the problem is notable: Mark tries to quit after which he begins to have severe health problems. Then, under the influence of his own intentions and influence of friends, he returns to drugs (Boyle, 1996). Thus, his willpower alone is not enough for him to solve his problem.

Presenting Issues and Interventions

Mark makes more than one attempt to overcome his heroin addiction. Once, as noted above, he tries to do it on his own; unfortunately, he does not manage to do this. The second intervention takes place under the influence of his close ones and requires medical intervention. This process takes a long time: after the hospital, Mark remains locked at home and suffers from hallucinations (Boyle, 1996). However, the severity of rehabilitation leads to the required results, and the character is freed from the addiction.

In this situation, there are different ways to diagnose the problem; however, in general, its presence is obvious. First, the diagnosis is simplified by the injection marks on the hands of the client. He also has clear psychic signs of addiction: high levels of anxiety, depression, and other factors (Boyle, 1996). Since Mark is part of a company doing drugs, treatment could be complicated by their communication. Their close relationship could return the client to addiction, which would lead to the need for a new course of rehabilitation.

Client Conceptualization

One of the disorders associated with Mark’s addiction is the state of altered consciousness. Even without using drugs for a while, he does not fully realize the surrounding reality and his actions. An example of this behavior is sexual intercourse with a minor girl. Mark represented her as an adult, but it turned out that she was 15 years old, and those people who seemed to him her roommates were her parents (Boyle, 1996). Thus, this becomes not only a mental problem but also a violation of the law.

It is important to note another victim related to the company of Mark. One of his girlfriends, also a drug addict, recently gave birth to a daughter, and she died, because no one paid attention to her. Unfortunately, such cases do occasionally happen in the described environment. Even being in the same room, heroin addicts were not capable of proper concentration. As a result, this led to the death of the baby, which many of the company could prevent (Boyle, 1996). This affected Mark’s further mental state: he sees the girl in hallucinations and regrets what happened.

Treatment and Theoretical Approach

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is an effective psychotherapeutic method for treating drug addiction that reduces drug use and prevents relapse. This method helps addicts to become aware of the situations in which they most often use drugs. It also makes it possible to avoid such situations in cases where it is necessary and to overcome problems and problematic forms of behavior associated with drug-using (Willner-Reid et al., 2015). Cognitive-behavioral therapy stimulates collaboration and changes beliefs that contribute to the exacerbation of pathological attraction. It also teaches patients how to use skills, not just willpower, to abstain from drugs, and helps patients change their attitude to themselves, life, and future (Capuzzi & Stauffer, 2019). Thus, using this therapy, Mark could change his behavior and worldview.

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In addition, it is necessary to consider treatment in therapeutic communities that are remote from the center of urban life or located in rural areas. Drug addicts living there receive assistance in the form of psychotherapy, occupational therapy, or spiritual mentoring for many months. Such communities are served by therapeutic teams, usually consisting of professionals, general practitioners, instructors, and neophytes: ex-addicts who have successfully completed the therapy process (Kimuyu, 2017). An integrated approach to treatment and a new environment would be useful for Mark to change his lifestyle and acquire new habits.


In my opinion, Trainspotting is a serious and complicated movie. Various features of the life of drug addicts are depicted in it as naturally as possible. In addition, the director included some elements of fantasy in the film, for instance, hallucinations of the protagonist (Boyle, 1996). This makes the picture frightening and makes viewers recall some scenes in disgust. As a result, they are imbued with the negative features of this lifestyle. This allowed the filmmakers not only to make a high-quality product but also to draw public attention to the problem of drug addiction.

After watching, I undoubtedly gained a better understanding of the lifestyle of heroin addicts. I would also like to note the features of their behavior, changed by the effects of drugs. The moral principles of these people do not correlate with universal ones. They are ready for crimes to get a dose, but they do not pay attention to the baby who is growing in the apartment next to them. In addition, their living conditions are terrible, since they spend all their money on heroin. This is indeed a frightening picture, so it becomes clear that people should avoid addictions.


Trainspotting is a bright example of how drugs affect people’s lives. The main character, Mark, diligently fights his heroin addiction, but not always successfully. In this paper, various methods are proposed that could help him deal with addiction, for example, cognitive-behavioral therapy and rehabilitation centers. Thus, this character could get rid of drug problems much faster and easier. In any case, despite the negative emotions that this film provokes, it is essential for a clear understanding of the life of heroin addicts. This allows people to refrain from drugs and better understand addicts to be able to help them.


Boyle, D. (1996). Trainspotting [Film]. Film4 Productions.

Capuzzi, D., & Stauffer, M.D. (2019). Foundations of addictions counseling (4th ed.). Pearson.

Kimuyu, P. (2017). Treating drug addiction. Ways to improve the successful rate of rehabilitation. GRIN Verlag.

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Willner-Reid, J., Whitaker, D., Epstein, D. H., Phillips, K. A., Pulaski, A., Preston, K. L., & Willner, P. (2015). Cognitive-behavioral therapy for heroin and cocaine use: Ecological momentary assessment of homework simplification and compliance. Psychology and Psychotherapy, 89(3), 276-293.

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