Hundreds upon hundreds of movies have been made about addiction over the years, some of them are a bit corny (28 Days) some of them are a bit over the top (Puncture) but there are a select few that really hit the nail on the head. Movies about addiction are tough to make, as a director and a writer you are trying to convey a plethora of emotions and actions in a short amount of time. You need to make people who have never struggled with addiction feel like they’ve been through the ringer once the credits roll. This list is an opinion, a few things were considered before comprising this list; quality of acting, quality of story and does it portray addiction correctly? I’m sorry if your favorite movie didn’t make the cut, but here are 7 GREAT movies about addiction. This list is in no particular order.
Ray – 2004
The main focus and story of this movie is not about addiction but when the story puts the focus on Ray Charles’s heroin addiction , it hits the nail on the head. Jamie Fox portrays addiction for what it is and without mercy. “Legendary soul musician Ray Charles is portrayed by Jamie Foxx in this Oscar-winning biopic. Young Ray watches his 7-year-old brother drown at age seven. When he loses his sight at the age of 9, his hardworking mother (Sharon Warren) urges him not to feel sorry for himself. He rises through the ranks of the Seattle jazz scene, struggling with drug addiction and infidelity while on the road. Supported by his wife (Kerry Washington), Ray Charles redefines soul music and inspires a generation.”
Half Nelson – 2006
One of the lesser known films on this list “Half Nelson” does a great job at showing how addiction can affect everyone. “Dan Dunne (Ryan Gosling) is a history teacher at a Brooklyn school. Though well-liked by his students and colleagues, he secretly spends his evenings hopping bars and getting high. A female student named Drey (Shareeka Epps) catches him in a drug-induced haze after a basketball game, and the two strike up an unlikely friendship. As Dan struggles with his addiction, he tries to act as a mentor to the girl, whose brother is serving time for dealing drugs.” This movie is a drama, it wants to hit you and it does. While it can move slow at times it is an amazing character study of an addict.
Requiem for a Dream – 2000
Requiem for a Dream wants to hit you hard and it does. This is one of the most well known and well respected movies about addiction. This movie will sit with you for some time, so get ready to cry, quiver and feel.. Darren Aronofsky directs this movie with the intent of making you feel uncomfortable and to feel the pain of the addicts who the story revolves around. “This gritty drama concerns four people trapped by their addictions. Harry (Jared Leto), and his best friend Tyrone (Marlon Wayans) are impoverished heroin addicts living in Coney Island, NY, while Harry’s girlfriend Marion (Jennifer Connelly) is a fellow addict trying to distance herself from her wealthy father. Harry dreams of scoring a pound of smack, from which he could make enough money to open a clothing boutique with Marion, but so far he and his friends can barely scrape by supporting their own habits. Meanwhile, Harry’s mother Sara (Ellen Burstyn), who spends her days watching television, is told she has the opportunity to appear on her favorite game show; wanting to lose enough weight to fit into her favorite red dress, she visits a sleazy doctor who gives her a prescription for amphetamines. Soon Sara has a drug habit of her own that is spiraling out of control.” Once again this movie is heavy, it shows drug use and addiction in the darkest ways. if you are easily bothered by needles and drugs do yourself a favor and stay away.
Drugstore Cowboy – 1989
Directed by Gus Van Sant this movie follows Bob Hughes played by Matt Dillion. “This moody, surreal drama follows a loose group of young drug addicts as they move from town to town, robbing pharmacies to support their habits. When one of their lot dies of an overdose, however, their leader decides to get sober, but finds the road to rehabilitation extremely challenging.” Drugstore Cowboy doesn’t cut any corners when it comes to showing how addiction can completely control one’s life. It definitely deposits heroin/opiate addiction for what it is and doesn’t sugar coat it.
Sid and Nancy – 1986
This movie put legendary actor Gary Oldman on the map. If that’s not enough to get you to check this movie out then maybe this list isn’t for you. “Following their breakout success in England, flagship punk rock band the Sex Pistols venture out on their first U.S. tour. Temperamental bassist Sid Vicious (Gary Oldman) takes his troubled girlfriend, Nancy Spungen (Chloe Webb), along for the ride. Along the way, the couple’s turbulent relationship strains the patience of band mate Johnny Rotten (Andrew Schofield) and manager Malcolm McLaren (David Hayman), while plunging Sid and Nancy into the depths of drug addiction and co-dependency.”
Flight – 2012
This list has been more focused on movies about addiction but “Flight” shows the darkness of alcoholism better than most movies are able to, hence why it made the cut. “Commercial airline pilot Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) has a problem with drugs and alcohol, though so far he’s managed to complete his flights safely. His luck runs out when a disastrous mechanical malfunction sends his plane hurtling toward the ground. Whip pulls off a miraculous crash-landing that results in only six lives lost. Shaken to the core, Whip vows to get sober — but when the crash investigation exposes his addiction, he finds himself in an even worse situation.” While this movie is very heavy it also has a bit of a lighter side to it.
Choke – 2008
This movie is not about drug addiction, it is about sex addiction. Yeah the main character does some drugs and drinks but his main issue is sex. Sam Rockwell kills it in the leading role, this is a bit of a dark comedy. “Destitute, a sex addict (Sam Rockwell) fakes choking in expensive restaurants, whose patrons “save” him, then fund his hospitalized mother’s care.”
Are You or a Loved One Struggling?
Has a loved one recently approached you asking for help with their addiction? If you or someone you love is suffering from alcohol or drug addiction and would like to learn about the PHP program or other treatments we offer at FindAddictionRehabs.com, call us at 1-877-959-7271 today. Help is out there, an intervention can make all the difference in whether your loved one will agree to turn their life around.