Seven movies about addiction that mostly get it right! 🎬


Pop culture often lacks depth & realism when it comes to portraying addiction. An unfortunate consequence of that is that people seem to misunderstand it.

I often meet people who have delayed getting treatment for many years because they weren't really aware of what an alcoholic or an addict looked like. In our culture, we often turn to movies and television to show us what that might be, but with it's outdated stigmas and sometimes completely false information surrounding addiction, Hollywood can perpetuate the myths surrounding addiction & treatment. If admitting the problem is the first step towards recovery, it is vital that we promote accurate portrayals of what addiction is really like. 

Whether you are suffering with an addiction yourself or whether a friend or family member's behaviour seems to be beyond your comprehension, these Hollywood movies show what addiction is really like.  For documentaries about addiction, check out our blog article, Three documentaries about addiction available to stream on Netflix

If you think you have a problem with drinking, drug use, sex addiction, eating disorders or other compulsive behaviours such as self-harm, compulsive skin-picking or hair-pulling, please get in touch so that we can arrange a free 20-minute phone consultation to find out if FreeMind Hypnotherapy could work for you. 



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.

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The Basketball Diaries

Jim Carroll is consumed by his life as a high school basketball star. Pressured by a wicked coach  and a concerned mother, Jim develops an appetite for heroin. Soon, the mean streets of New York City have replaced the basketball court as his main destination. Jim and his friends scrounge, steal and prostitute themselves to score drugs. Jim's only chance to escape addiction may be Reggie (Ernie Hudson), a neighborhood friend and hoops companion.

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The Wolf of Wall Street

In 1987, Jordan Belfort takes an entry-level job at a Wall Street brokerage firm. By the early 1990s, while still in his 20s, Belfort founds his own firm, Stratton Oakmont. Together with his trusted lieutenant and a merry band of brokers, Belfort makes a huge fortune by defrauding wealthy investors out of millions. However, while Belfort and his cronies partake in a hedonistic brew of sex, drugs and thrills, the SEC and the FBI close in on his empire of excess.

Most films tend to possess merely subtle suggested drug use or simply depict the actual high. The Wall of Wall Street goes much deeper. It once again drives home that no one is immune to becoming enslaved by addiction. The desperation in Jordan’s voice for the drugs even as his life is in serious danger is haunting, and any addict instantly recognizes that tone as one they’ve used themselves.

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In the turbulence of the 1970s, the international drug trade underwent a fast, violent and lucrative revolution - and one ordinary American was at its center. But in just a few short years, George Jung (Johnny Depp), a high-school football star single handedly became the world's premiere importer of cocaine from Colombia's Medellin cartel, changing the course of an entire generation. "Blow" is a high-velocity look at George Jung's spectacular rise and fall.

The descent into madness he experiences as a result of the drugs quickly takes over as the main focus of the film, which artfully and truthfully represented the ugly side of a drug that was so popular at that time.

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Trainspotting is a 1996 film that follows a group of friends who are members of the London underbelly that try to navigate through life with skewed morals. The main protagonist within the first few moments of the film explains and displays the desperation many addicts are faced with. The depravity and humiliation the characters experience are testaments to the true nature of addiction. The movie is an accurate film about addiction, because the subject matter that’s touched upon (disintegration of relationship, HIV, and even death) is not skated over and very truthfully depicted, as well as the main character’s struggle to find long-term sobriety despite being so desperate for it.

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Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas

Released in 1998, this film centres around two men who embark on a psychedelic drug binge and tear their way through the city of Las Vegas. It is an accurate film about addiction because despite their situation going from bad to worse as more and more mayhem ensues as a result of their drug use; the duo opts to instead ingest more and more psychedelic drugs as a solution to their problems. It very accurately depicts the insanity of addiction, as well as the types of chaotic situations addicts often find themselves in.

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Forrest Gump

The final movie on this list is none other than the critically acclaimed 1994 drama Forrest Gump. While many would not immediately identify this as an accurate film about addiction, or a film about addiction at all, one of the key story lines in the complex plot of the film is that of none other than Forrest’s love interest Jenny. Jenny is originally depicted as a sweet little girl, how all addicts start out. After a series of unfortunate events befall Jenny, such as abuse and death of her family members, Jenny begins to use drugs as a method to cope with the emotional turmoil. This film accurately shows how some addicts begin using simply because of the external trauma they encounter, and it documents Jenny’s descent into depression and even suicidal ideations. Not even the kindness shown to her by Forrest was enough to pull Jenny back from oblivion, demonstrating the destructive and powerful hold addiction has on addicts.

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