15 Best Movies About Recovery from an Addiction

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Looking for movies for people recovering from substance abuse and addiction?

Recovering from substance abuse or addiction is not an easy thing. It takes a lot of time, money, and effort. It is also a test of willpower and determination.

There are times when you will feel like the rehab is not working at all—when you will think that it might just be a waste of time and resources.

But rehabilitation and recovery are never worthless. They might be difficult, but just like everything else in this world, they only become sweeter when they take hard work.

In this post, we share with you the 15 best movies about recovery from addiction. We believe that these movies can help you or your friends in your journey to recovery and healing.

Let’s check them out!

1. 28 Days

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28 Days stars Sandra Bullock as a woman who is forced to attend rehab due to alcoholism. It is a feel-good movie with perfect mix of drama and comedy, especially with Bullock’s outstanding performance.

The story depicts the life of an alcoholic and how it can be really tough for them to deal with their daily activities while struggling to stay sober.

If you want to laugh and cry while recovering from alcoholism—or if you simply want to watch a good, lighthearted movie—then we recommend checking this one out.

2. Flight

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Flight brings us the story of an airline pilot who miraculously saves the lives of his passengers by safely landing during a plane crash. The catch is that he was intoxicated the night before the flight and was found to have taken cocaine. An investigation follows and the government is eager to put him behind bars because taking such substances before a scheduled flight is illegal and immoral.

Denzel Washington gives an amazing performance in this film, which gives a great depiction of the struggles of an addict.

3. Clean and Sober

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Michael Keaton started his career doing comedies, but this film gave him the chance to prove that he wasn’t a one-dimensional actor. Clean and Sober tells the story of a real estate agent who has been struggling with alcoholism and cocaine addiction, but can’t admit that he needs help.

If you are specifically looking for a “recovery” movie, this may not be the right choice. Keaton’s character is far from being ready for recovery. At the end of the story, however, you can see the potential for him to change his life.

4. My Name is Bill W.

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This movie tells the story of Bill Wilson, a WWI veteran who once suffered serious drinking problems. He eventually got back on his feet and started Alcoholics Anonymous, together with Dr. Bob (Robert Holbrook Smith), a fellow former alcoholic.

Alcoholics Anonymous is a large organization in the United States with nearly 2 million members. It offers its services for free and is a place for alcoholics who’d like to recover and stay sober.

We recommend watching this film if you are into documentary-style movies. It includes real-life clips of Bill W. and Dr. Bob’s lives.

5. Beautiful Boy

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Beautiful Boy tells the story of a father who is willing to do anything for his son who, is struggling with drug addiction. It is a biographical drama, which makes it even more heartbreaking.

Many reviews agree that the movie resonates with those who have experienced drug addiction themselves. Timothee Chalamet does a good job of portraying how an addict relapses. But Steve Carell was the true standout in the film, demonstrating the true love of a parent who will never leave or forsake their child.

We highly suggest watching this film, especially for families who are dealing with a member who is an addict. It might also be a great movie to watch with kids to explain to them the effects of drug addiction.

6. The Basketball Diaries

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This film was one of Leonardo DiCaprio’s first breakout roles. It follows the story of punk superstar Jim Carroll. It is based on his best-selling autobiography and shows how his life was almost ruined by a heroin addiction.

This film is an excellent option for anyone who is on the brink of sacrificing their successful life due to drug addiction.

7. A Star is Born

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If you haven’t yet watched this new version of the age-old love story of two artists falling in love, then you are missing out. This is the film that made Lady Gaga the very first woman to win an Academy Award, a BAFTA award, a Grammy, and a Golden Globe award in the same year—talk about being extraordinarily gifted.

Bradly Cooper is also excellent in this film. This is his directorial debut and it became a huge hit. He was able to portray—through his acting and directing skills—how substance abuse can destroy even the most talented person.

8. Rocketman

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We remember getting so excited upon hearing that Elton John’s story would be featured in a film only a few months after the release of Bohemian Rhapsody. After all, it is impossible to deny the talent and beauty of Queen and Elton John.

But many people weren’t prepared for the deep dive that these films took into the struggles of their protagonists. Rocketman tells the raw story of Elton John’s life and career—including his various struggles.

9. Requiem for a Dream

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This movie is a bit dark and can be a little disturbing, but it is also a masterpiece. It perfectly portrays the delusions and desperation of those struggling with substance abuse. It tells the story of people whose sense of reality has been distorted by their addictions.

10. When a Man Loves a Woman

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If you are looking for a love story on this list, here it is! Andy Garcia gives a great performance full of love and devotion, leaving Meg Ryan to do what she does best…melt our hearts.

When a Man Loves a Woman is the story of an alcoholic wife and mother who finds a supportive companion, and their challenges and struggles as they stay together, for better or for worse. As Roger Ebert said, this movie isn’t just about the mother’s recovery—it is also about her husband’s recovery from her recovery.

11. Gia

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Italian-American Gia Marie Carangi was considered to be the world’s first supermodel. She had everything a girl could wish for and was hugely famous by the time she was 17. Unfortunately, that attention can lead a person to dark places.

Gia was “too beautiful to die” yet “too wild to live.” She had a wild and passionate life, but it was tragically cut short. This film is a must-watch, even if it’s tragic.

12. Permanent Midnight

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Permanent Midnight brings us the story of a small-time television writer who finds success writing a comedic series. It is based on the autobiography of Jerry Stahl, which has the same title. The story shows that drug addiction can rapidly destroy fame and success if it gets out of hand.

This film starring Ben Stiller largely focuses on the negative effects of withdrawal. He does a great job portraying this painful experience.

13. Everything Must Go

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While Will Ferrell is best known for his comedy work, this film is proof that he has dramatic talent as well. This film tells the story of someone who almost loses everything due to their habitual dependence on alcohol.

14. Ben is Back

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Ben is Back garnered favorable reviews from most critics, although there are a few who found the storyline to be a bit inconsistent. While the first half of it is about how Julia Roberts cared for her addicted son, Lucas Hedges, the second half goes on to introduce a new plot where the son seems to have been involved in a crime that took place before his rehabilitation.

Whether you like the plot or not, Roberts and Hedges give great performances as a mother and her son. This film is another example of a parent who will do anything for their child.

15. Rachel Getting Married

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Rachel Getting Married stars Anne Hathaway as Kym, a former drug addict who has been in recovery for 10 years. Her sister is about to be married, and Kym is given a day pass to spend some time with her family.

The movie not only covers addiction and recovery, but also family. And it’s not just about your biological family, but also the people you meet along the way and how they are able to change your life.


We hope that you were able to find some great movies on this list for inspiration in your pursuit of sobriety. Whether it is you or a friend who is undergoing recovery and treatment for addiction, we pray that you will be successful!

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