10 Movies about Drug Addiction

Movies that portray drug addiction in a realistic and honest way are few and far between. It is difficult to portray such an important subject because there are so many factors that go into why someone may become addicted to drugs. Here are ten movies about drug addiction realistically, showing different perspectives and life experiences.

Movies about Drug Addiction

1. Traffic (2000)

Traffic is a film about the war on drugs from many different perspectives. It shows what happens when drug addiction goes out of control, but also has a lot to say about the drug problem itself, as well as the government’s policies regarding drug prohibition. The story is told through three different intersecting tales that take place in Mexico, Miami, and California.

2. Requiem for a Dream (2000)

Requiem for a Dream is a brutal look at the world of drug addiction, specifically heroin. It shows the lure of drugs, the euphoria they produce, and the eventual crash that follows. Jared Leto’s performance as Harry hits all the right notes when it comes to drug addiction and withdrawal. The other two stories are also well-told, each following different drug addictions and their negative outcomes.

3. Trainspotting (1996)

Trainspotting is an incredible film that holds some very important messages about addiction. What stands out the most is that it shows the reality of drug use, as well as its effects on those who are addicted. It gives insight into the personality traits of drug addicts and how they can effect relationships.

4. Gia (1989)

Gia is based on the life of model Gia Carangi and her struggle with drug addiction. It is a very powerful film that shows how quickly things can spiral out of control due to drug use. Nastassja Kinski’s portrayal of Carangi is extremely compelling and will stick with you long after viewing the film.

5. Flight (2012)

Flight is a masterfully told story about drug addiction that is far more philosophical than the typical movie. There are many subtle messages and important themes to take away from this film. What stands out most is how beautifully this says the message in a completely narrative way and takes the viewer deeper into the characters’ consciousnesses.

6. The Basketball Diaries (1995)

The Basketball Diaries is a film that shows the world of drug addiction through the eyes of a teenage boy. It is an honest look at drug use, as well as peer pressure and teenage rebellion. Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance is brilliantly done, showing how quickly things can go out of control for those on drugs. The film also reminds the viewer about how drugs affect even those who are not addicted to them, such as family members and loved ones.

7. The Night of the Hunter (1955)

The Night of the Hunter is a film that has a very intriguing and unpredictable storyline. It shows the story of a small town shunned by society due to its drug addicts and the dark secrets that are hidden behind their actions. Charles Laughton’s portrayal of Joe Cooper was very effective in making this film what it was.

8. Saved! (2004)

This film is a satirical look at the world of evangelical Christian students, who struggle with drug addiction amongst their peers. It is a very entertaining and unique take on the subject matter and features great performances by Jena Malone, Macaulay Culkin, and Mandy Moore. The film also features an incredibly powerful performance by Eva Amurri as Mary Magdalene.

9. A Star Is Born (2018)

A Star Is Born is a newly released film about addiction and the trials that come with that addiction. It displays the grip that drugs can have on someone’s life, as well as shows the support system that can be formed when family and friends are permeated with drug addiction. Lady Gaga’s performance was incredible and will surely garner her some serious award nominations.

10. Drunks (1995)

Drunks is a film that has a very different perspective on addiction. Instead of showing the negative effects of drug addiction, it instead shows the damage that can be caused by alcohol. The movie also shows the comedy that can arise from taking part in illegal drug use, as well as other activities such as prostitution and burglary.


Drug addiction is a very serious problem and one that will only continue to grow if it continues to be ignored. The movies above may not do much to help change the stigma surrounding drug use, but they definitely bring it more into the light so society can see it for what it is. Hopefully movies about drug addiction will continue to be made in order to expand the conversation for something that is so destructive in our world today.

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