The Drugs Don’t Work

Learn how to play The Drugs Don’t Work on one acoustic guitar!

‘The Drugs Don’t Work’ is a song by Richard Ashcroft’s band ‘The Verve’. It has also been covered by American singer-songwriter Ben Harper.

Using almost only open position chords, staying in one key with no variations, Richard has managed to write a song that sounds unique.

Don’t be fooled, to write a song having mainly simple open chords doesn’t mean it’s easy! Most songwriters would give an arm and a leg to be able to write a simple, memorable song that doesn’t sound like something else.

Perhaps writing a simple song with a strong message is actually the most difficult thing a songwriter can attempt.

My one guitar arrangement of ‘The Drugs Don’t Work’ only has one difficult chord to fret, the F. You don’t have to play this as a barre chord, instead, fret it as the video lesson demonstrates.

Chord progression

These are all the chords for ‘The Drugs Don’t Work’.


| C | C | Am | Am | Em | F G | C | C |

Before M8

| C | Em | F G | C | C |


| F | Em | Am | G |

Chorus 4

| Em | F G | C | C |


| C | repeat until end

This video lesson is a close up of what the right-hand does in this one guitar arrangement. Study it to discover how the strumming pattern carries the song on just one acoustic guitar.

The Drugs Don’t Work full guitar lesson

You get a full breakdown of how to play ‘The Drugs Don’t Work’ in the course, we cover:

  1. The meaning of the chord progression
  2. The strumming pattern
  3. How to pick rather than strum
  4. A 2nd guitar part
  5. A complete TAB chart

Sign up to the beginner course today and start learning not just songs, but how music on the guitar actually works!