8 Films That Get Addiction Right

The surgeon general reports that nearly 15 percent of people struggle with substance abuse or addiction at some point in their lives. Millions live with addiction. Millions know someone whose life has been turned upside down by the problem. However, millions more are unaware of what life is like for an addict. There are some amazing movies that offer accurate depictions of habitual substance abuse.

1. The Lost Weekend – 1945

As the story progresses through a four-day weekend, viewers get to see a number of characteristics often displayed by alcoholics. The desperation to drink leads to deception and self-endangerment. Despite the concern and intervention attempts made by loved ones and professionals, the addict wants nothing more than their next fix. We also see the ravaging effects alcohol abuse has on someone who goes without drinking and suffers the horrifying D.T.s.

2. My Name is Bill W – 1989

The film explains the life of William Griffith Wilson who created Alcoholics Anonymous. Wilson and his sister were raised by their grandparents who owned a bar. His grandfather suffered from alcoholism until experiencing a spiritual awakening. Wilson did not have his first drink until he served with the National Guard. When inebriated, Wilson enjoys the freedom alcohol provides from shyness and depression. Eventually, he becomes addicted. However, years of drinking lead to Wernicke’s encephalopathy. At which time, he was given the choice to stop or spend the rest of his life in an institution. After a spiritual experience, he becomes sober. Wilson then endeavored to help others overcome the addiction.

3. Flight – 2012

The film demonstrates how addiction is no respecter of persons. During a flight, commercial pilot Denzel Washington saves the day when a major mechanical malfunction might have caused a horrific tragedy. However, an investigation of the incident reveals that he was under the influence at the time. Viewers follow him behind the scenes to see his addiction to illegal drugs and alcohol play out.

4. Gia – 1998

Gia Marie Carangi was believed by many to be the first supermodel in the United States. Angelina Jolie portrays the troubled young model who fell into cocaine use upon the death of her mentor and agent Wilhelmina Cooper. Depression and loneliness due to a failure to nurture personal relationships lead Gia to heroin use. Although she finally overcomes her addiction, she contracts HIV from using contaminated needles. The disease progresses to AIDS, which claims her life at the age of 26.

5. Trainspotting – 1996

The story follows the antics of a group of young men living in an impoverished area in Edinburgh. For lack of anything better to do, the guys fall into heroin addiction. The need to feed and pay for their habit leads the group to engage in various criminal acts. The dangers of addiction become apparent when one falls to AIDS.

6. Less Than Zero – 1987

A college student comes home for a visit to find his former girlfriend in a relationship with his best friend. Sadly, both are also cocaine addicts. Addiction leaves the student’s friend estranged from his family due to deceptive behavior and theft to support his habit. He is also rendered homeless. The addiction creates an enormous debt to a dealer that leads to violence and prostitution. In an effort to overcome their substance abuse, the couple joins their friend on a journey to the desert. However, the physical damage the drug causes for one results in an untimely death.

7. When a Man Loves a Woman – 1994

A school counselor, wife and mother has an alcohol addiction, which puts her and her children in danger. She agrees to enter rehab, which leaves her commercial pilot husband in charge of the home front. However, as she recovers, the couple struggles to manage their changing roles, which threatens their marriage.

8) Spun – 2002

The tale involves a star-studded cast who portray a methamphetamine ring. Drama infused with dark comedy follows the addicted members as they deal with each other and their habit. The substance abuse leads to confrontations with law enforcement, wild partying and a tragic end for various members of the group.

In 2017, more than 72,000 people in the United States died from a drug overdose. An estimated 10 percent ever seek treatment. As the films portray, substance abuse is often the result of self-medicating to deal with an emotional or mental health issue. Under these circumstances, professional help is necessary to overcome the addiction.

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