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7 Times TV & Film Accurately Depicted Addiction

 In Pop Culture & Addiction

The widespread and devastating nature of addiction is a social disease that has been approached in various unrealistic ways by the entertainment media and television. However, there are some instances when Hollywood gets it right and really nails a horrifying story of drug & alcohol addiction. The following seven movies are the most realistic, disturbing, and devastating films about addiction.

1. A Star is Born (2018)

While some might argue that a film already made twice didn’t need another upgrade, “A Star is Born” has received rave reviews from critics around the world. One of the best aspects of this movie is the way that star, writer, and director Bradley Cooper showcased the substance abuse of Jackson Maine, the talented but doomed musician who helps Lady Gaga achieve stardom.

Throughout the film, Cooper accurately portrays how stress, creativity, love, and personal setbacks often trigger a person to fall into addictive patterns. Maine is always drinking alcohol and doing pills merely to get the energy and focus to perform. And the film shows his struggle to stay sober and clean in ways that real people are struggling with addiction experience every day.

2. Trainspotting

“Trainspotting” came along at the right time in Hollywood, as many musicians and even some actors were glamorizing drug use and substances like heroin. Director Danny Boyle pulls no punches in showcasing the devastating that heroin has on a person’s life, including the most realistic portrayal of heroin withdrawal ever put on film.

And while the nightmarish hallucinations may seem over the top and silly to some viewers, these kinds of visions are common for people going through detox from heroin. It’s hard to imagine anybody trying heroin after watching this movie but, sadly, one film cannot change the world.

3. Being Charlie

Rob Reiner’s film “Being Charlie” was a shock to many who considered him a comedy director. The film, written by his son Nick and Matt Elisofon and based on real experiences with addiction, is an unflinching and unforgiving portrayal of drug abuse.

The title character, Charlie, is just 18 when his battle for sobriety begins. Though his politician father funds his recovery, Charlie struggles to avoid relapsing and falls into a negative pattern of behavior that leaves the viewer breathless by the end.

4. Spun

Though “Spun” hasn’t received great reviews from every viewer, it’s portrayal of methamphetamine abuse is considered one of the most accurate. Meth is one of those drugs that rarely gets talked about in the fight against substance abuse but is a very devastating problem.

“Spun” mostly spins in a circle watching characters Ross (Jason Schwartzman), Spider Mike (John Leguizamo), Cookie (Mena Suvari) and Nikki (Brittany Murphy) interact. They get high, talk about how they are not addicted, and spiral into out-of-control situations in a way that anybody who has used methamphetamine will understand.

5. Requiem for a Dream

Anyone who watches “Requiem for a Dream” is never quite the same again. Darren Aronofsky is known for his no-holds-barred direction, and this film offers the rawest and most frightening look at the world of addiction and the types of behaviors it endeavors.

Each character in the movie is doomed by their drug use, and their downfall is shown in awful, awful detail. Nobody survives in this harrowing and unforgettable portrayal of drug abuse.

6. Everything Must Go

Though mostly known as a silly comedian, actor Will Ferrell surprised his fans and the acting world with this accurate and disturbing look at the effects of alcoholism. Alcoholism is one of the world’s worst health problems and is often misunderstood by the media.

However, with a script and steady direction by Dan Rush – based on a masterful story by Raymond Carter – “Everything Must Go” shows how alcoholism robs people of their joy and life. Just as importantly, this film shows how societal norms often support alcoholism.

7. The Basketball Diaries

Though one of the older movies on this list, “The Basketball Diaries” is still one of the most accurate movies on drug use. Leonardo DiCaprio – just then settling into his comfortable role as one of the finest actors in America – portrays an NYC teenager who falls into the rut of heroin abuse.

His character, Jim Carroll, is a promising basketball player with a good family and a comfortable life. However, he falls into the throes of addiction realistically and heartbreakingly. “The Basketball Diaries” reminds the viewer that addiction can strike anyone at any time – even the most gifted and promising among us.

Get Help for Addiction

The struggle to beat addiction is a genuine problem and is one that requires a lifelong dedication to overcoming its dangers. The movies above sometimes showcase successful recovery but – more often – give an accurate portrayal of how drugs destroy. Thankfully, a drug & alcohol rehab like Rise in Malibu can help give people with an addiction a true Hollywood happy ending. Contact us today to learn more about how our affordable, world-class program can help you find recovery once and for all.

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