15 Movies That Accurately Portray Drug Addiction: Apart from entertainment, films act like a mirror, reporting the cultural and socio-economical climate of society and throwing light on the everyday issues that are often kept under wraps. One such phenomenon that’s often swept under the rug is the drug problem that’s perpetually plagued society since its inception. Drug abuse is often considered a taboo topic, with people talking about it in hushed voices without realizing the far-reaching implications of this problem on the future of society and humanity.
It is a difficult topic to talk about on film for a number of reasons. Along with the subject being taboo when handled poorly, it can be comically absurd at best, like in Reefer Madness, or insultingly bad, where it becomes preachy as they talk about a complicated situation they know little about. Here are some films that tackle the problem head-on, and accurately portray drug addiction. 15 Movies That Accurately.
15. Enter the Void (2009)
Enter the Void is regarded as one of Gaspar Noé’s best works. The film walks on Noé’s usually stylistic tropes and depicts a psychedelic experience of what life might seem like after death. The film is set in Tokyo, where American drug dealer Oscar is betrayed by his friend and killed in a drug bust. The film is then shown entirely from Oscar’s point of view as his spirit journeys from the past to the present to the future. 15 Movies That Accurately.
14. A Star Is Born (2018)
While the relationship as well as the career of Bradley Cooper’s Jack and Lady Gaga’s Ally are at the center of A Star Is Born, an underlying topic is Jack’s long-lasting drug and alcohol addiction. Throughout the movie, the roots of his suffering become clear, as he has experienced immensely traumatic events during his childhood. 15 Movies That Accurately. He suffers regardless of his success and loving relationship, reflecting the struggles of so many people out there. Jack’s addiction is a real portrayal of what numerous people have to go through, and what surfaces in the end is that he needed a lot more support, especially in the form of therapy.
13. Midnight Cowboy (1969)
The film sees these two low-lives tumble through the city with dreams in their eyes, succumbing to the allure and charm of hardcore drugs like heroin. Upon its release, Midnight Cowboy shocked the audience with its raw and gritty portrayal of life on the fringes and won an Academy Award for Best Picture.
12. Four Good Days (2020)
Four Good Days tackles the overwhelming difficulty of becoming clean when being addicted to narcotics, and it is actually based on a true story about Amanda Wandler and her mother, Libby, who are known as Molly and Deb in the film. When Molly (Mila Kunis), after years of numerous detox attempts and relapses, returns back home to her estranged mother, a complex time of physical and emotional suffering, betrayal, and a fight for survival begins. Molly has to stay clean for four days in order to receive her last option of recovery, a shot of an opioid antagonist. Four Good Days unveils how deeply rooted addiction can be, how strenuous the path toward recovery is, and the impact it leaves on relationships.
11. Pink Floyd – The Wall (1982)
Written by Pink Floyd’s legendary vocalist Roger Waters, The Wall revolves around Boomtown Rats vocalist Bob Geldof, who plays the role of a rock star called Pink. The film can be viewed as an experimental indie project, that touches on an array of topics such as sex, the agony of warfare, and drugs all paired with the band’s music playing in the background. 15 Movies That Accurately.
10. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is an epic black comedy that’s adapted from Hunter S. Thompson’s novel of the same name. The film is fueled by a cocktail of drugs and chaos, and depicts a plethora of banned substances within its almost two-hour runtime. While addiction is way more serious and darker than shown in the film, director Terry Gilliam tries to carve out the hilarious insanity that ensues when half-numb people attempt to function on a boatload of drugs.
9. Naked Lunch (1991)
Based on William S. The film is directed by cult auteur David Cronenberg and revolves around an unusual sort of drug: pest poison. Naked Lunch is as bizarre a film as they come, featuring some grotesque situations, in an attempt to provide the viewer with a peek into the mind of a user.
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8. Cherry (2021)
When Cherry was filmed, the much admired Spider-Man actor, Tom Holland, stepped way out of his comfort zone. While many doubted that he would have the sufficient skills to leave his friendly neighborhood superhero identity on the side, he spent an incredible amount of time preparing for his portrayal of a young man, who suffers from PTSD and a subsequent heroin addiction after a horrendous time in combat.
Cherry really isn’t for the faint-hearted, consisting of unsettling images and a somber environment for the better part of the movie. It offers an almost disturbingly accurate depiction of heroin addiction, diving into delusions around being a soldier, the extreme cravings, and, eventually, also the excruciating pain of withdrawal.
7. The Basketball Diaries (1995)
The Basketball Diaries is based on Jim Carroll’s autobiographical novel of the same name. The film documents the author/musician’s early years of addiction to heroin, with Leonardo DiCaprio playing the role of Jim. This heart-wrenching biopic is one of the most intense and realistic portrayals of drug use and its long-term consequences.
6. The Panic in Needle Park (1971)
The Panic in Needle Park put the great Al Pacino on the map. As Bobby and Helen become more codependent on each other and heroin, they fall into a darker web of desperation and betrayal.
5. A Good Person (2023)
The captivating drama A Good Person focuses on the multiple layers of addiction, and behavioral changes emerging from it. Casting Florence Pugh and Morgan Freeman as the two main characters was a fantastic choice, especially considering that Pugh is known for diving straight into her role and elevating it to the best of her abilities. Allison (Pugh) has a wonderful life, a healthy relationship, and a great job; however, when an accident changes her entire life, she becomes addictive to opiates, and loses even more than she already has. A Good Person is a painful depiction of the aftermath of grief and the dangerous path of using drugs as a means of relief. Allison takes the viewers on a heart-wrenching and real journey of fighting her way out.
4. Rocketman (2019)
Rocketman tells the story of the world-famous and incredibly talented singer Elton John. Apart from the highs of his career, the biopic also taps into the downsides of his life. To the viewers’ relief, John’s long and difficult struggle with addiction is predicated in a genuine way. Rocketman successfully avoids the use of any stigmas and focuses on potential causes and treatments. As for Elton John’s case, the movie revealed how traumatizing events during his childhood, as well as retraumatizing incidents in his adulthood created and fueled his addictive behavior.
3. Beautiful Boy (2018)
Contrary to popular belief that despondency fuels drug use, Beautiful Boy works on a completely different tangent. Based on the life of Nic Sheff and his relationship with his loving father, the film captures Nic’s teenage years as he struggles with his Meth addiction while trying to cope with the help of his doting dad. Beautiful Boy is an intense piece of cinema that views addiction through an empathetic lens.
2. Trainspotting (1996)
Director Danny Boyle sets the tone of Trainspotting by starting the film with a rant about the everyday complications of life before finally having the lead character, Renton, concludes in a cathartic way, “Who needs reasons when you’ve got heroin?”. Cut to more than two decades later, and the cultural impact that Trainspotting is undeniable. It is a film that is honest and frank with its viewer.
1. Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Arguably one of the scariest films to have ever been made about drug use, Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream looks at addiction through different age groups and multitudes. Using drugs as a gateway to highlight the more pertinent issues faced by humans, the film provides a shocking insight as to why people do what they choose to do.