Recommended Films/Movies about Addiction & Recovery
Understanding the Limits of Print or Broadcast Media for Addiction Treatment
Although books & documentaries/films do offer some important benefits in recovery, they should not be used as a replacement for traditional forms of addiction treatment. Detox, counseling, medications and holistic treatments provide the best foundation for sobriety.
If you wish to use these as part of your addiction recovery, they are best incorporated into your aftercare plan for maintaining recovery following appropriate treatment.
Break Every Chain (2021)
Facing the threat of losing his job as a police officer, the loss of his wife and daughter, and contemplating suicide, a man turns to faith and finds hope and redemption.
The Wisdom of Trauma (2021)
The film follows physician, bestselling author and Order of Canada recipient Dr. Gabor Maté and explores the hidden wisdom of our deepest pain and the interconnected epidemics of anxiety, addiction, and chronic illness plaguing Western society.
The documentary centers on the opioid epidemic, specifically its effect on Huntington, West Virginia, where the overdose rate is 10 times the US average.
28 Days (2000)
When a hard-drinking New York journalist knocks over her sister's wedding cake and crashes the bridal limousine, she goes too far with her reputation as the life and soul of the party. When a court sentences her to go to treatment for a month, she initially refuses, but she eventually comes to grips with her substance abuse.
A Star Is Born (2018)
A seasoned singer, Jackson Maine, encounters and fell in love with a struggling painter, Ally. She'd almost given up on her goal of becoming a famous singer when Jackson persuades her to pursue it. Even as Ally's profession soars, their connection is deteriorating as Jackson struggles with his own issues.
Four Good Days (2020)
Directed and co-written by Rodrigo García, the film is based on Eli Saslow's Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post article, "How's Amanda? A Story of Truth, Lies and an American Addiction," which chronicled Alexander's experience with daughter Amanda Wendler.
Ben is Back (2018)
On Christmas Eve, nineteen-year-old Ben Burns returns to his family's suburban home. Holly, Ben's mother, is relieved and excited, but she is concerned about her son's drug addiction. New truths are exposed over the course of a tumultuous 24 hours, and a mother's unconditional love is put to the test as Holly does everything she can to keep Ben pure.
Clean and Sober (1988)
‘Clean and Sober’ follows events in the main character, Daryl’s life after he awakes next to a woman who has overdosed on drugs and realizes he has embezzled money from his company. He joins a rehab program to escape legal issues, and while there is helped to accept that he has a cocaine problem and must overcome it with addiction treatment.
Russell Brand - From Addiction to Recovery (2012)
In this movie, Brands, in his inimitable approach, questions traditional theory and practice and government policy, tackling the realities of addiction head on. He draws through his own experiences along the journey to try to assist one of the addicts he encounters in taking the initial steps toward rehabilitation.
The Pharmacist (2010)
In 1999, after losing his son in a drug-related shooting in New Orleans and lacking answers from police, a small town pharmacist - Dan Schneider - beats the odds when he embarks on a dogged pursuit to find and bring his son's killer to justice
Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington), a commercial airline pilot, has an alcohol and drug problem, but he's been able to complete his flights safely so far. When a catastrophic mechanical failure sends his plane plunging toward the ground, his luck runs out. Whip pulls off a stunning crash-landing with only six people killed. Whip swears to stay sober after being shaken to his core, but when his addiction is revealed during the crash inquiry, he finds himself in an even worse scenario.
Home Run (2013)
After his agency drags him into a recovery facility in his hometown, Cory, a successful baseball player and an alcoholic, rediscovers himself and finds himself managing a Little League team. Parents should be aware that Home Run explores the effects of alcoholism. It follows a self-centered pro baseball pitcher who is forced to coach a Very little League team, only to learn that the small pleasures in life, such as family and faith, can provide beyond what he can find in a bottle.
'Rocketman,' a biopic of Elton John, shows how the star's childhood trauma is linked to his later problems with mental health and SUDs. The film follows his adolescent years and ascension to fame as his battle with addiction worsens. Finally, it shows him entering a drug rehab facility to address his substance abuse and make a full recovery.
Recovery Boys (2018)
Four men support each other as they try to rebuild their lives and mend their broken relationships after years of addiction and drug abuse. Set in the middle of this crisis, the film provides an exploration of male emotions will be refreshing to anyone who has grown accustomed to staid representations within popular culture, as will the film’s focus on people in recovery instead of people suffering from addiction.
The Fighter (2010)
'The Fighter,' based on the true storey of boxer Micky Ward, focuses on Micky and his half-brother-turned-trainer Dicky (a former professional boxer). As Dicky succumbs to cocaine addiction and becomes the subject of an HBO documentary, the film shifts its focus to substance abuse, relapse, and recovery.
Beautiful Boy (2018)
The film, based on two memoirs from a father and son dealing with the latter’s addiction to crystal meth, is a grim endurance test that’s undeniably flawed but in doggedly aiming to portray this unbearable pain with rare authenticity, it has a raw, haunting power. Beautiful Boy chronicles the heartbreaking and inspiring experience of survival, relapse and recovery in a family coping with addiction over many years.
Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Based on the same-named novel, this film tells the stories of four people dealing with various types of addiction. It's one of the most graphic depictions of the horrors that substance abuse disorders can cause. In an intense psychological drama, it addresses both mental and physical health.
When Love is Not Enough (2010)
This is a 2010 film that tells the story of Lois Wilson, the wife of Alcoholics Anonymous co-founder Bill Wilson. Lois Wilson founded Al-Anon/Alateen in 1935, with the purpose of supporting family members of people living with the disease of alcoholism. We’d recommend this movie to family members of people currently in treatment, or to anyone looking to be an ally to people currently living with addiction.
The Anonymous People (2013)
This documentary depicts the real lives of people suffering from alcohol and drug addiction. It features ordinary people as well as celebrities discussing their journeys to addiction recovery. The documentary aims to dispel the negative stigma associated with AUDs and SUDs by demonstrating how rehabilitation is possible.
.Starring Angelina Jolie in the title role, ‘Gia’ depicts the life of one of the first US supermodels, Gia Marie Carangi. In the film, Gia attempts to overcome her drug addiction to cocaine by replacing it with methadone, to which she then becomes addicted. This movie shows how the title character can overcome her addictive behavior and depicts the negative fallout of intravenous drug use as she finds herself contracting AIDS.
Everything Must Go (2010)
When salesman Nick Halsey turns up drunk at work one too many times, he loses his long-term job, and his wife leaves him. The movie addresses the adverse effects an addiction to alcohol can have on a person’s private and professional life and mental health. It also shows how it’s possible to walk away from alcoholism and how life changes can help wake a person up to their problems and begin addiction recovery.
Drugstore Cowboy (1989)
This crime drama film follows a group of friends addicted to drugs as they travel across the Pacific Northwest, robbing hospitals and pharmacies. A fatal overdose impacts the whole group, and their leader Bob attempts to leave his past problems behind him. This proves a difficult task, but one that is ultimately achieved through perseverance.
Basketball Diaries (1995)
This mid-90’s crime-drama movie is based on an autobiography by Jim Carroll. It charts Carroll’s journey, a high school basketball player, as he turns to substance abuse to overcome the grief of a close friend dying. The film takes a close look at teenage addiction, how drug abuse can result in situations that lead to a prison sentence, and finally, how recovery can begin in prison.
When a Man Loves a Woman (1994)
If you plan to watch 1994’s When a Man Loves a Woman, you may want to have a full box of tissues handy. This film is so emotionally poignant that we’d be hard-pressed to believe that anyone who’s ever had an alcohol addiction, known anyone with substance abuse problems, or loved anyone with substance abuse problems, can get through this film without shedding some major tears. Meg Ryan and Andy Garcia really tug at the heartstrings in this film about the deep love and commitment a spouse can show when standing by their loved one as they overcome substance abuse.