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Movies About Addiction

Movies About Addiction

Addiction is a complex disease that can be difficult to translate on-screen.

While many movies attempt to glorify substance abuse, others depict an accurate portrayal of its hardships. Drug and alcohol abuse can cause severe damage, changing the chemical makeup of the brain and preventing a person from living a normal life. An addict’s character and relationships can be turned upside down because of their habit.

As a drug and alcohol treatment center in Philadelphia, we know all about the damage that substance abuse can cause. These movies about addiction display an accurate portrayal of the challenges we’ve had firsthand experience treating at our facility.

Accurate Movies About Drug Addiction and Alcoholism

This list includes movies about addiction and how this disease affects different areas of a person’s life. Relationships, family dynamics, and health are some of the many areas vulnerable to the dangers of substance abuse that are accurately depicted in these films. Some of these movies explore the benefits of recovery while others don’t. Many individuals who develop a substance abuse disorder require a drug or alcohol addiction treatment to achieve sobriety. Movies about drug addiction and alcoholism shouldn’t glorify substance abuse, but rather depict its unfortunate truth.

Requiem for a Dream

Requiem for a Dream is one of the most popular movies about drug abuse in the film industry. This film focuses on four people whose lives are affected by drug addictions. Viewers experience the physical and mental changes along with the characters as their addictions worsen. As the movie progresses, the characters are eventually trapped in a warped reality, ending in chaos.

The Basketball Diaries

This film tells the story of a talented high school basketball player who develops a heroin addiction. The movie depicts the emotional trials and challenges in life that often cause people to turn to drugs or alcohol. Things like losing a loved one, peer pressure, and mental health are explored in this movie about heroin addiction.


Animals is an interesting portrayal of a gradual lifestyle change. It’s about two people who are in love with heroin until one becomes engaged. When the fiancé shares his views against using drugs or drinking, the dynamic between the two friends begins to change. This film offers a realistic portrayal of the effects that addiction can have on various relationships.


Blow is one of the more unique movies about substance abuse because it depicts the lifestyle of addiction from the perspective of a drug dealer. An American cocaine smuggler creates ties with a cartel, resulting in a life riddled with cocaine abuse and major crime. This film offers a realistic illustration of the unstable mindset of a cocaine addict caught in organized crime.

The Wolf of Wall Street

The Wolf of Wall Street offers an accurate portrayal of the erratic and deteriorating life of a businessman turned drug addict. The lifestyle of addiction that is common for those with great wealth is also depicted in this movie, along with the various physical and mental changes that drugs like cocaine often cause.


Flight tells the story of a pilot who relies on illicit drugs to get him through long flights and lack of sleep. When the plane crashes spontaneously, his skills in landing the plane with no fatalities are overshadowed by the substances found in his system. Flight is a sad and accurate portrayal of how addiction can affect your job.

A Star Is Born

A Star is Born depicts the life of an alcoholic musician and his relationship with a local singer. As the latter’s career kicks off and the former’s alcoholism continues, their love alone isn’t enough to sustain the impact of addiction and mental illness. This film is an accurate portrayal of addiction and mental illness that are common to many celebrities.

Half Nelson

While many people enjoy the charm sprinkled into Half Nelson, it also offers an accurate portrayal of cocaine addiction. In this film, a science teacher struggles to balance his personal life, career, and cocaine dependency.

When a Man Loves a Woman

This tear-jerker tells the story of a wife and mother whose family begins to suffer as a result of her alcohol addiction. Her relationship with her husband and kids, as well as her experience in rehab all work together to display addiction as a family disease.

Rachel Getting Married

Rachel Getting Married depicts the challenges that many recovering addicts face within their families. It tells the story of a woman who’s treated as an outsider when she temporarily checks out of rehab to attend her sister’s wedding.

Addiction does not discriminate, and as accurate and entertaining as some of these movie portrayals may seem, any sort of humor or jokes cannot cover up the repercussions of addiction. For both everyday people and TV stars with substance abuse disorders, addiction is never one-dimensional. Recovery often requires specific and multi-faceted treatment.

If you or a loved one are struggling with the harsh realities of addiction, call Banyan Treatment Centers Philadelphia today at 888-280-4763 for more information for more information about our facility and our PHP

Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.