Realistic films about addiction

Movies can sometimes reflect aspects of our real life on the big screen. When a film achieves a sense of realism, the audience can feel understood or inspired. Although an estimated 20 million people in the United States are struggling with substance use disorder (SUD), making realistic films about addiction can be difficult. The symptoms of substance use can be played down, exaggerated, or glorified. These types of depictions can stigmatize SUDs and further remove those who have difficulty from treatment. If you’re experiencing addiction urges, you might want to look at how to pay. 

Fortunately, there are films that are more authentic in their portrayal of substance use. These films can be effective at conveying the hardships and obsession, despair, and isolation associated with drug and alcohol use. Here are a few realistic films about addiction.

Beautiful Boy: A realistic film about addiction and family

Beautiful boy is a 2018 film with Steve Carrel and Timothée Chalamet. The film directed by Felix Van Groeningen is based on 2 memoirs from 2008 that tell the true story of David and Nick Sheef. David is the father of Nick, who is struggling with meth use. This double perspective enables the audience to feel empathy for both sides. David desperately tries to help his son by all means as Nick’s addiction progresses. Nick’s cycle of relapse and recovery is juxtaposed with flashbacks from his childhood to show the emotional toll drug use can have on family relationships.

Nick’s sense of privilege and stability is powerless in the face of drug use. Despite being a smart and creative boy with many opportunities to be successful, Nick’s intense addiction to crystal meth overcomes all other priorities. Beautiful boy is a realistic film about addiction because it highlights the idea that a SUD’s struggles do not discriminate.

Requiem for a dream: addiction and potential in contrast

In the psychodrama from 2000, director Darren Aronofsky tells a story about how addiction can easily bring a person’s life to a standstill Requiem for a dream. This realistic film about addiction follows 4 related people and their different struggles with drug use. Sara Goldfarb, played by Ellen Burstyn, is the mother of Harold or Harry, played by Jared Leto. Sara is dependent on appetite suppressing amphetamines. Harry, his girlfriend Maryanne (Jennifer Connolley) and boyfriend Tyrone (Marlon Wayans) use black tar heroin. Every character has an emotional void that they can deal with with substances.

Despite their clear use, the specific names of the substances and even the word “drug” are never mentioned in the film. Each character also has non-substantial addictions such as television, money, or a codependent relationship. By showing that addiction can come in all forms, the audience can reflect on their own addictions. Aronofsky uses very stylized montages with manipulated time and music crescendos to mimic the fear, tension, and stress caused by drug use. The film contrasts the dark path of substance use with the aspirations and potential of the characters. This comparison humanizes the characters by showing that they are real people with real lives and real battles.

Uncut Gems: How Sports Betting Risk It All

Certain behaviors can also lead to addiction when a person cannot resist their impulses. The 2019 film, Uncut gemstones, tells the cautionary story of Howard Ratner struggling with a sports gaming disorder. Gambling is the only behavior disorder recognized in the DSM-5. Howard’s addiction to sports betting puts all other aspects of his life at risk, including his family. The audience is completely immersed in the high levels of stress, denial, and chaos associated with Howard’s destructive gambling cycle.

Sports-loving but not gambling directors Josh and Benny Safdie hoped their realistic film about addiction could help reverse the normalization of gambling disorders. Since sports betting is legal in 25 states, many do not consider it an addiction. While seemingly harmless, gambling disorder can affect relationships, finances, job performance, and the use of other substances.

Sound Of Metal: A realistic film about addiction and deafness

Sound of metal is a 2019 film that tells the story of Rueben, a recovering drummer who suddenly loses his hearing. Reuben, played by Riz Ahmed, calls his sponsor who suggests that he enter a rural, sober dormitory especially for the deaf. Concerned about his sobriety, his girlfriend leaves him the focus against his will. Reuben does not accept his new hearing loss and becomes obsessed with solutions that will help him return to normal. This can be seen as a new form of addiction for Reuben.

This Oscar-winning film was recognized for its use of sound to accurately depict deafness. Depictions of Deaf culture in this realistic film about addiction show how other factors, disabilities or disorders can affect a person’s relationship with substance use. The treatment center in the film is an example of a culture-specific treatment option that differs from the stereotypical 12-step programs typically used in films.

Trainspotting: Two Sides of the Addiction Coin

British comedy drama from 1996, Trainspotting, was directed by Danny Boyle and plays Ewan McGregor as Renton. Renton and friends are heroin users and live in Edinburgh, Scotland. The film follows Renton’s attempts to quit heroin, revealing the misery, social destruction, and death that can result from drug use. The substance use mentioned in Trainspotting remains a major problem in Scotland, which has the highest drug-related death rate in Europe.

Some have criticized this film for glorifying substance use. Boyle defended his choices in his film about addiction by saying that he wanted to show why people use drugs and how temporary euphoric effects lead to terrible results. In the realistic withdrawal scenes in the film, the negative effects of substance use can be seen. The film also comments on substance use as a form of escapism when the characters use heroin in response to a tragic event caused by their substance use.

These films do their best to show how addiction doesn’t just affect the user. Creative sound, dialogues and visual effects help the audience to understand how substance consumption and the associated stress feel for the user. For more information about substance use disorders and treatment options, contact a treatment provider today.

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