• Weird History

Hunter S. Thompson's Daily Drug Regimen

The outlaw newsman Hunter S. Thompson will forever be remembered as the pioneer of gonzo journalism, a veritable rock star of writing, a champion of the Constitution, and an eccentric, misanthropic crown prince of madness. However, if there's one aspect of his infamous life and legacy that may be more well-known than his acclaimed writings - like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Hell's Angels - or his long-form, genre-bending editorials, as well as missives for Rolling Stone, it's his propensity for almost unimaginable substance abuse.

His alcohol and hard drug intake was unrivaled even by the most outlandish rock gods, movie stars, and Beat poets. Some of his friends recall his love of smoking weed out of a human skull, while others remembered his habit of downing an entire bottle of whiskey every day. Truly, Thompson's daily intake of an immense number of substances sounds like it would doom a normal human, but Thompson was anything but normal. To truly appreciate the depths of his now-legendary love of vice, here's a breakdown - from observers, reporters, and even the man himself - of what he consumed on a daily basis, from the time he woke up to whenever he went to bed the next morning.

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  • Daily Acid Trips

    Thompson's use of hallucinogens didn't come close to his seemingly impossible propensity for nose candy, but there's no shortage of anecdotes from his close friends - and his own writings - that show how much he loved to trip. In Carroll's recounting of what she claimed was a routine he would follow "daily," she said Thompson would "drop acid" at 10 pm. Although, from the stories Thompson's closest friends would tell, LSD seemed to be an "anytime drug" for the famed writer.

    Rolling Stone co-founder and publisher Jann Wenner recalled joining Thompson at his Owl Farm compound on a Sunday afternoon to hang out: "And what do we do on a Sunday afternoon? Take acid and watch a football game, of course."

    In an essay on LSD that Thompson wrote in 1990, he recounted the beginnings of his appreciation for the hallucinogen and explained he first "got into acid" while living in Big Sur, CA, in the 1960s. He got his first doses from a Stanford research psychiatrist who was experimenting on the therapeutic applications of the substance.

  • Photo: Karl Gruber / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

    Chartreuse And Gin In The Evenings

    After hours, at around 11 pm, Thompson would change things up from his usual beers and Chivas Regal by indulging in some Chartreuse, a French liqueur aged and fermented with 130 different types of herbs and flowers.

    The green-colored liqueur added just the right touch of class to Thompson's late-night drug and drink regimen, which he reportedly indulged in between midnight and 6 am. This time of night, during which he got a lot of his writing done, also included his go-tos like cigarettes and coke, as well as some nice English gin, according to his typical schedule as documented by his biographer:

    12:05-6:00 am: Chartreuse, cocaine, grass, Chivas, coffee, Heineken, clove cigarettes, grapefruit, Dunhills, orange juice, gin.

  • A Regular Cigarette Diet: Dunhills And Cloves

    If there was one vice Thompson indulged in more than drinking and coke, it was his endless chain smoking. The celebrated writer, who began smoking as a teenager, was just as much of a brand loyalist when it came to his cigarettes as he was when it came to whiskey. He had a preference and stuck with it for decades.

    Thompson smoked exclusively Kool cigarettes until 1962, several years after moving to Puerto Rico at a time in which Kool did very little business, making the product increasingly difficult to obtain. At that point, he made the switch to Dunhills and never looked back.

    Nearly every drug Thompson took was accompanied by a new Dunhill. Smoking is so ingrained in Thompson's legacy that one of his most famous accessories - more than any item of clothing or pair of sunglasses - is the trusty, well-bitten cigarette holder that filtered his smokes.

    In the evenings, while he was madly writing, drinking, entertaining guests, or watching weird, vintage adult films, Thompson apparently enjoyed clove cigarettes - a special type of cigarette made in Indonesia that includes a blend of tobacco and ground-up dried cloves, a flower bud from a tree native to the Indonesian Maluku Islands.

  • Dozens Of Cups Of Coffee To Match His Cigarette Intake

    In a letter written by Thompson to a friend in September 1956, when he was 19 years old and stationed at an Air Force base in Florida, Thompson detailed his already prolific smoking habit, claiming, "I had to give up cigarettes when my daily consumption hit the three-packs-a-day mark, and I now smoke about two packs per day, via the pipe."

    However, as Thompson had not yet started in hard on his diet of coke and amphetamines, he was using caffeine as his primary stimulant. And, like most things in which Thompson imbibed, he did so to excess:

    Without the slightest exaggeration, I drink approximately 20 cups of coffee in every 24 hours and manage to sleep about five hours a night. Of course, it goes without saying that I'm jumpy as a cat and and am extremely unpleasant and sarcastic most of the time.