10 Movies About Addiction and Recovery
Americans across the United States struggle with all kinds of addictions to various substances. Addiction is all too common in the United States and the movie business has tackled different types of addiction throughout many films. There are some movies that are more relatable than others. But, some movies might open someone’s eyes to what they’re experiencing in their own lives and could even help them. Here is a list of 10 movies about addiction and recovery. Maybe you or someone you love can find inspiration to get the treatment they need from watching these movies about addiction and recovery.
10 Movies About Addiction and Recovery
Clean and Sober - Featuring Michael Keaton
In this movie, Michael Keaton plays Daryl Poynter, a successful real estate agent who is addicted to cocaine. This movie portrays the high-functioning addict that is fairly common in real life but not shown as often in movies. His addiction doesn’t hinder his success until he wakes up one morning to a whole mess of problems. In order to avoid his problems and legal troubles he decides to enter a drug rehabilitation program. He does this with the goal of escaping his problems instead of actually getting sober. Many addicts in real life can relate to the character’s reluctance to get sober and take recovery programs seriously. However, as the character (and many people in real life) experiences the positive life changes that come from recovery he accepts the program and actively works for his sobriety.
28 Days - Featuring Sandra Bullock
Sandra Bullock plays Gwen Cummings, a woman who is forced to enter rehab after ruining her sister’s wedding by getting drunk and crashing a car. As she enters rehab, Cummings refuses to put effort into the program and insists she doesn’t have a drinking problem. One of the first steps in recovery is for the addict to admit they have a problem. Denial is something the main character struggles with throughout the entire film until she gets close to other clients in the center. The relationships she forms in the rehab center help Cummings see she has a drinking problem as she listens and relates to stories told by other addicts at the facility. By the end she admits she has a problem and begins to take responsibility for her actions by getting sober.
The Basketball Diaries - Featuring Leonardo DiCaprio
A teenager in high school named Jim Carroll goes from a basketball star to a homeless heroin addict. This movie shows how the fall into addiction can get worse and worse as the character becomes homeless, starts selling himself in exchange for drugs, and eventually goes to prison. A life of success can quickly spiral out of control when addiction takes hold. Eventually Carroll manages to put his life back together but not before hitting rock bottom. This movie was based on a true story.
My Name is Bill W. - Featuring James Wood
A lot of people in recovery for alcohol addiction recognize the name of Bill W. He was one of the founders of the infamous 12-step program alcoholics anonymous.The movie is based off of Bill Wilson’s life, from successful businessman to hopeless alcoholic. After multiple failed attempts at sobriety Bill meets Dr. Bob, who is also an alcoholic, and together they create the support group that becomes Alcoholics Anonymous. My Name is Bill W. is another movie based on a true story. It shows the formation of a support group that has inspired many people to enter recovery and become sober for life.
When a Man Loves a Woman - Featuring Meg Ryan and Andy Garcia
In this movie, featuring Meg Ryan and Andy Garcia as a loving married couple, the wife and mother has an alcohol addiction that affects the entire family. At first Andy Garcia, a pilot, doesn’t realize how bad his wife’s addiction is since he’s usually away from home. But, when Meg Ryan’s character neglects to take care of their children due to her addiction Andy Garcia takes control and enters his wife into a recovery program. This movie shows how the husband struggles to take on full responsibility of the family as his wife enters recovery. Eventually, he finds his own ways to cope. If you’re the family member of an addict this movie can show you how addiction affects even those trying to help. It also highlights the usefulness of family members attending Al-Anon meetings.
Everything Must Go - Featuring Will Ferrell
Nick Halsey is an alcoholic fired from his job due to an incident involving alcohol. He picks up beer on his way home. Once he's home the locks are changed and his wife has left him. All of his stuff was left on the front lawn. He attempts to start over by holding a yard sale of all his items on his front lawn. During this time he meets a friendly neighbor who helps him through alcohol withdrawal. Please note withdrawal from alcohol is dangerous without professional help, learn how to detox safely. While the ending isn’t exactly the happiest, it shows the character making an effort to stay sober.
Drunks - Featuring Richard Lewis
This movie takes places over the course of one alcoholic anonymous meeting. The main character, Jim, is having a hard time and speaks at the meeting from encouragement of his sponsor. Things don’t go the best for him and he quickly leaves the meeting after telling his story. Jim continues to walk around the streets in his neighborhood that bring up unpleasant memories while the rest of the people at the meeting continue to tell their stories. The difficulty Jim has in the movie shows that recovery is not always easy and it’s okay to struggle as long as you ask for help.
Burnt - Featuring Bradley Cooper
A top Chef struggles with a drug and alcohol addiction that eventually destroys his reputation and career. He leaves Paris and works on getting sober so he can get his life back on track. After getting sober he moves to London in an attempt to relaunch his career. The character endures a lot of challenges throughout his quest to become a top chef again but he manages to do it without wavering from his sobriety. This film shows how their can be success in life after addiction has destroyed it. In order to succeed one must enter recovery and become sober and work hard for what they want.
Flight - Featuring Denzel Washington
A pilot named Whip Whitaker, Denzel Washington, saves a plane full of passengers when something goes wrong during a flight. An investigation takes place after the incident that uncovers Whitaker’s problems with drugs and alcohol. He was even under the influence of alcohol when he saved passengers. The investigation reveals negative impact Whitaker's addiction has on his life. This movie shows an addict suffering the consequences of his actions caused by his addiction.
Days of Wine and Roses - Featuring Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick
The two main characters, Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick, meet, fall in love, and get married. Jack Lemmon’s character gets Remick’s character into drinking a lot more socially and as time goes by they’re both suffering from a toxic relationship and alcohol addiction. He struggles to keep a job due to his addiction. His wife almost kills their baby in a fire because she’s drunk. He eventually gets help and starts attending AA meetings. But, his wife refuses to get help and slowly deteriorates from her addiction. This movie shows that sometimes some relationships need to end in order to recover from an addiction.
United States Treatment Gap
In the United States there continues to be a large “treatment gap” for Americans suffering addiction. A study from 2013 found that an estimated 22.7 million Americans needed treatment for alcohol or drug addiction but only about 2.5 million people received treatment at a specialty facility. That’s still 20 million people in America suffering addiction without treatment. Whether this is due to a lack of resources or people just not seeking treatment is unknown. Help yourself, a friend, or family member receive the recovery treatment they need by contacting one of our admissions coordinators today.
Are there any movies about addiction and recovery that you found inspiring? Tell us about it in the comments.