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Top 11 Realistic Movies About Drug Addiction

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Drug addiction is one of the most pressing issues in the world today. And it’s no surprise that so many different films portray various aspects of this complex subject. 

In this blog post, I will share 11 realistic movies about drug addiction.

Whether you’re struggling with dependency yourself or just interested in learning more about this topic, these pictures will provide insight into this devastating disease. Also, check out these film discussion questions if you want to get more benefits after watching movies.

In addition, I want to note that all these movies are not recommended for children under 17 years old.

So without further ado, let’s get started!

Top 11 Realistic Movies About Drug Addiction

1. Candy (2006)

IMDb 7.2

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Candy, a beautiful young artist, falls in love with the poet Dan. Their passion is intoxicating, and they strive for endless pleasure. Heroin helps push the boundaries of what is possible. 

They are not afraid of the future when they are together, but soon the lovers run out of money for drugs. Then Candy goes to the corner. Dan does not interfere with her, and they leave the boundaries of their Paradise unnoticed by themselves.

In the very beginning, it is still difficult to imagine that a fleeting addiction to drugs can destroy their lives and leave them without a future.

candy - movie about drug addiction

A little time passes, and they are already on the needle, and getting rid of this habit is not easy. Constant loans of money, dirty work, theft – this is the everyday life of a drug addict. The lovers are not embarrassed that a new injection can become fatal, and even though realizing the entire burden of consequences, it is almost impossible to stop. 

The director Neil Armfield conveys all the horrors and suffering from the need for heroin as plausibly as possible.

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2. Gia (1998) 

IMDb 6.9

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Who is Gia Carangi ? She was one of the first big models in the business. Bright, rebellious, exciting, outrageous. The best photographers and best magazines wanted to work with her.

In the biographical drama Gia, the role of this gorgeous woman was played by Angelina Jolie. The film will tell about the path of Caranga: from a dishwashing lady in unsightly eateries, through the title of the queen of the world podium, drug addict slums to a sad end.

The picture dealt with meaningful and challenging topics: loneliness, infantilism, modeling business, fame, homosexual love, and drugs!

Related Post: 7 Success Factors to My Heroin Recovery Story

And it all started in childhood. The father yelled at the mother, and the mother yelled at the father. The child postpones such memories, and Gia is no exception.

gia super model on drugs movie

 And at the age of 11, the mother leaves home. So it is not surprising that the girl subsequently suffered from a lack of attention from her parents and tried to find such love in abusive sexual relationships. We are once again being shown how fundamental the problems of children and their parents are.

When Gia tried drugs for the first time, it was the birth of the new Gia Carangi. That troubled, restless child is gone, and a new person has come – dependent, reckless, sad.

What a terrible transformation of a person who wants to love and be loved.

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3. Beautiful Boy (2018)

IMDb 7.3 

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David Sheff is going through a tragedy: his sweet son Nick has become a drug addict. Where did the bad habit come from? 

Nick grows up in a loving family; he is an excellent student, and he does not need anything. The parents’ divorce went smoothly. Nick still communicates with his mother, who lives in Los Angeles. Trying to find answers, David remembers what a child used to be – a thoughtful and beautiful boy.

How did it happen? Who is guilty?

I, along with Nika’s father, worried about him, believed his words, attempted to change everything, and hardly looked at how bad and hard it was for all of them. Yet, so light at first glance, Nick’s drug addiction turned into an everyday struggle in life.

beautiful boy movie drug addiction

In the rare times that Nick returns to the reality of this world, we are shown him as a beautiful, caring, and sunny boy. Then, however, something pulls him back again, saying that life, in reality, does not make sense.

We’re trying to understand the cause of Nick’s addiction. But unfortunately, neither father nor Nick himself knows the answer to the question “why?”. At some point, we want to blame the divorced parents, the always busy mother, David’s new wife. But it’s not about them. I think he tried drugs and decided that it was easier and more enjoyable for some reason.

Beautiful Boy is a biopic drama about the life of families of drug addicts. Steve Carell played here, perhaps, his best role. His inner struggle, his desperate desire to save his son, his lost look, his resentment, and endless pain – you don’t just believe in all this, but you experience it with him. Not inferior to him and the rising star Timothée Chalamet.

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4. The Basketball Diaries (1995)

IMDb 7.3

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It is another biographical indie drama about Jim Carroll . He had a promising future. He was a talented poet and basketball player, but everything changed when he tasted the ill-fated white powder.

The fate of a drug addict is often predictable. The film director, Scott Kalvert, chose to tell this story without embellishment and highlight particularly unpleasant scenes in the foreground. Jim will have to go through all stages of the life of a drug addict, starting with crimes and ending with selling his body for the next dose.


basketball diaries movie about drug addicted basketball star

Interestingly, the role of Jim Carroll was initially approved by River Phoenix, who died of a drug overdose before filming began.

The character of DiCaprio allows the viewer to see the gradual transformation of a healthy and talented young man into a wretched tramp who has renounced everything.


5. Trainspotting (1996)

IMDb 8.1

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Before us is the story of five friends – the hero of our time, Renton; the thief and a psychopath Begbie; admirer of Sean Connery and philosopher Spud; freak Sick Boy and an athlete leading a healthy lifestyle Tommy.

The story is told from the perspective of Renton. He is a simple guy who goes through a difficult path from the complete denial of a standard, boring life with family, work, TV, and other rubbish, to the desire to possess all these seemingly stupid and unnecessary things at first.

And this path is described so brightly, juicy, boldly that it is simply impossible to tear yourself away from the screen.

Related Post: What I’ve Learned After 6 Years Sober – Life After Heroin

But drugs save them from the surrounding reality and problems. Inject, and you will no longer care that you need clothes, food, sex, and housing. You won’t need anything anymore. You will lie intoxicated all day long and get crazy pleasure.

You won’t find a single positive character in this picture. Instead, You find yourself in a society of thieves, drug addicts, traitors, nymphets, just sick psychos.

trainspotting popular movie about drug addiction

But Danny Boyle’s film is not about the road to death but about “such a” life. Yet, morality is in entire order at the same time: say “NO!” to drugs.

I felt very sorry for Tommy. Athlete, healthy lifestyle, he has a girlfriend. But everything is crumbling like a house of cards, thanks to one of his best drug addict friends. One little prank and the person will lose everything.

The video sequence is one of the main attractions of the film. Almost all the film ideas are presented not through dialogues but exclusively through a visual solution. Simple words cannot convey withdrawal, or the state of high, or show all the dirt surrounding the drug world.

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6. Sid and Nancy (1986)

IMDb 7.0

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The film is based on the story of the life and death of the bass player of the legendary rock band “Sex Pistols” Sid Vicious . His fatal love for Nancy, a drug addict, and group fan, leads to Sid’s conflict with the rest of the members and his departure from the Sex Pistols. 

sid and nancy movie about addict Sid Vicious Sex Pistols

Under the influence of his beloved, the musician falls into strong heroin addiction, falling lower and lower into the abyss, and can no longer return to an everyday life without drugs. As a result, lovers become outcasts of society, and even relatives do not want to.

Sid and Nancy’s romance is a modern-day punk’s Romeo and Juliet story: tragic, ridiculous, and touching. 

I think Sid had a chance to start a new life, to start all over again, but he didn’t use it. Drugs are evil!!

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7. Prozac Nation (2001) 

IMDb 6.2

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When life seems sad and boring to us, we try to find a way to improve it. We can go to the cinema, read a book or go somewhere to relax. But Elisabeth Wurzel found another solution: she takes Prozac, a drug that instantly fills life with colors. Is it possible to smoke weed and be a Harvard student simultaneously? Well, of course, Elizabeth is living proof of that.

prozac nation drug addiction movie

The film is based on the biography of journalist Elisabeth Wurzel . Film director Erik Skjoldbjærg tells us about the unique state of the teenage psyche – an inflated introspection that soaked every action, starting a machine of self-destruction and tantrums.

Prozac is a remedy for happiness when there is no happiness. But what comes after a carefree sleep? There is a recovery process, awakening, and acquaintance with the real world.

It is what makes young’s commit rash acts at the moment of euphoria – suicide, quarrels with loved ones, complete decomposition of the personality. Prozac is like a pass to the world of fantasy, which has no analogs in reality.


8.Ben Is Back (2018)

IMDb 6.7

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Ben runs home while recovering from drug addiction in a rehab center, where he ended up after a heroin overdose that nearly claimed his life. Although the mother joyfully meets her son, she sincerely believes that the child has a chance for a brighter future without cocaine and pills.

Related Post: Two Signs Of Overdose That Could’ve Saved My Husband’s Life

During the day spent with Ben, the woman learns the depth of the trouble in which her son found himself. Together, the family must overcome the obstacles to a new life. 

julia roberts ben is back movie

Modern cinema perfectly shows how dangerous drugs are and how hard it is to get rid of addiction. Themes of parental love and care were manifested in different ways in cinema. Being a parent is not easy, especially when a child becomes a victim of addictions, including drug use.

Peter Hedges directed the classic family melodrama, which combines the themes of parental love and life after drugs. The film’s action spins like a pendulum, starting as a completely ordinary drama, but gradually developing into an action-packed thriller.

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9. Tideland (2005)

IMDb 6.3

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A dramatic feature film tells about how difficult life is for children in families of drug addicts. We have to learn the frankness and horror of reality through the 11-year-old Jeliza-Rose, who was unlucky with her parents. The girl’s parents are drug addicts, so they rarely devote time to raising a child. 

This young and innocent child still does not understand much and therefore perceives what is happening as nothing more than a game, entertainment. Jeliza-Rose seems to be not at all against addiction and even helps mom and dad prepare drug mixtures. However, a carefree life takes a dramatic turn when a drug addict mother dies unexpectedly from an overdose.

tideland drug addiction movie

This film shows us a fantastic world wherein a child’s mind, even the most terrible realities of life, turns into a fairy tale full of adventures.

Of her friends, she only has doll heads worn on her fingers. Yet, she talks to them all day long. Left alone with this terrible reality, Jeliza-rose is not afraid of much, solely thanks to her rich imagination.

Tideland is a challenging and excellent film with beautiful music and visuals, strung on a severe dramatic line.

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10. Adam & Paul (2004)

IMDb 7.1

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Adam and Paul have been friends since childhood. Over time, the friendship has only grown stronger – the guys spend a lot of time together, only now they are connected by drug addiction.

This movie, which combines the genres of drama and comedy, shows one day in the life of two drug addicts. But unfortunately, Adam and Paul have already reached the bottom, having exhausted almost all ways to get another dose.

movie about drug addiction adam and paul

The humor here is subtle and dark, and by the end of the movie, you already like this couple of drug addicts and feel sorry for them. However, even such immoral creatures deserve a little luck. And indeed it is! 

Happiness falls on them directly from the sky, and it seems that here it is luck, but it only seems so. It is both sad and funny.

Their tragedy is that they are living their whole life as one day. 


11. Christiane F. – Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo

IMDb 7.6

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It is the end of the best movies about drugs. The last film takes place in 1975 in West Berlin.

Kristina, a 13-year-old girl, lives with her mother and younger sister in a small apartment in an ordinary high-rise building in a quiet area. Christina gets bored, so the girl goes to the most fashionable disco in the area. There, teenagers meet an older guy and plunge into the world of hard drugs.

movie about teen drug addiction

Child drug addiction is probably one of the most terrible problems of the 21st century. Isn’t it?

Uli Edel is a great director, and he portrays the stages of destruction in the life of a schoolgirl turned drug addict incredibly accurately. The reasons that Christiana went astray are incredibly simple. The family collapsed after her parents divorced, her mother’s new beau who, with all possible efforts, is trying to take the father’s position in the house.

In addition to drugs, this film is also about love. She was 14, and he was 16. Both sat on the needle, and both tried to quit. But nothing came out. 

They promised again and said that everything was under control. In fact, it was not so.

 In this film, many scenes are not the most pleasing to the eye, but they are there because they are needed. I would especially like to note the scene with convulsions in the 93rd minute of the film. I believed in what was happening on the screen as if there were no actors in the frame but real heroin addicts.

In general, the film shows how a person can sink to the very bottom in the example of Christina in a short time. However, all actors play their roles very well. 

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Conclusion – Top 11 Realistic Movies About Drug Addiction

Do you know other movies about drug addiction? Could you share with me in the comments below? 

I hope you found this list helpful. Addiction is a genuine and scary disease that can be overcome. If you or someone you know is struggling with dependency, please seek help. There are many resources available, and there is always hope. 

Thanks for reading!

Olga Wefler

Olga is passionate about good movies and psychology. She believes that cinema has a healing power for our souls. On her blog,, Olga writes about cinema therapy, shares good films on exciting topics, and posts her movie reviews. So make some popcorn, and let's watch a movie with heart!

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Elizabeth Ervin

    Another magnificent and realistic movie is called, Four Good Days. It has Mika Kunis and Glenn Close. They both do fantastic jobs.

    The story starts with Mika showing up at her moms (Glenn). She’s sick and wants to get clean.

    The accuracy of having to wait for a detox bed or shot that blocks opioids is captured brilliantly in this film.

    The relationship between mother and daughter during addiction is compelling and believable.

    This is a must watch! I’m so excited to check out several movies on this list! Thank you.

    1. Olga Wefler.

      I never heard about Four Good Days. I love watching the development of parent-child relationships in movies. Thank you for the suggestion.

  2. I have seen a lot of these movies but The Basketball Diaries is one that I missed when it was on Netflix. I saw the word “basketball” and ignored it, LOL. I will be watching the others on the list!
    Thanks for such a great list of movies 🙂

    1. Olga Wefler.

      Yes, this movie title is confusing. I love DiCaprio in “The Basketball Diaries.” I think he is very talented. Also, the fact with River Phoenix, who died of a drug overdose before filming, is heartbreaking!

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