Addiction, Recovery, & Living Sober: At the Movies

Addiction, Recovery, & Living Sober: At the Movies | Transcend Recovery Community

There are hundreds of movies about addiction. But too many of them glorify the life of drinking and drugs and leave little room for inspiration for a newly recovered addict. Whether it’s alcohol or heroin or cocaine, someone in the throes of addiction needs to see what it’s like to break the cycle and stay sober.

In a way, a good, inspirational movie on addiction and recovery can provide sober mentoring and a vision for what it’s like to move away from addiction, seek sober help, experience the healing process, and finally arrive at sober living, the following have plenty of inspiration to share.

Words and Pictures – Released May 22, 2014, this is a romantic comedy that at first highlights a flirtatious courtship between two instructors at an upscale prep school and later reveals each of their demons. Dina Delsanto is an acclaimed artist turned bitter art teacher after getting arthritis, and Jack Marcus is an accomplished writer and English teacher whose addiction to alcohol is putting his career at risk. This film highlights the destruction of the addiction cycle as well as the slow progression towards recovery. He attends a men’s sober living program and finally makes amends with not only his son but also Delsanto. The movie includes a very heart-warming scene where Marcus expresses his love for his son and apologizes for the destruction he created in their relationship.

28 Days – This 2000 movie with Sandra Bullock highlights the character Gwen Cummings who has a great career but is forced to enter rehab. In the beginning Gwen is resistant to help, and refuses to participate in the sober living program she is apart of. But over time she slowly became involved in the lives of others at the program and eventually became forced to look at some of the uncomfortable similarities in her own life. Later, she recognizes that her life is indeed messy and that the destruction in her life is due to her drinking. This is a great movie that reveals what happens when someone with an addiction is willing to face the truth.

The Basketball Diaries – You are familiar with Leonardo DiCaprio from the Titanic, but this is a pre-Titanic DiCaprio playing the role of a free-spirited high schooler named Jim Carroll who gets pulled in by the sneaky lure of addiction.  He’s a member of an apparently unbeatable high school basketball squad. Many heavy factors in his life including a friend dying of leukemia, an invasive coach, and a growing unhealthy appetite for heroine cause the addiction to spiral out of control. It gets so bad that he sells his body in prostitution. However, eventually he ends up in prison then an mental health institution, and finally manages to pull his life back together. Although this is a hard film to watch at times, the storyline is inspirational for an addict who has seen tough times like Carroll.

Clean and Sober – Michael Keaton plays a cocaine and alcohol user who is able to keep his addiction in check. He’s got a full time and successful real estate career and manages to hold down his addiction. However, one night he wakes up next to a woman who is unconscious and who apparently overdosed. He also gets a call from his employer saying that money is missing and that they suspect he’s at fault. As a way to avoid his problems, he checks himself into a sober living program. Although he is at first reluctant to change, he eventually decides to face his demons. This is another great film about the reality of an addiction and what’s required to break the cycle.

Other movies that could inspire you toward living sober are:

If you’re looking for a chest full of movies to get the mojo you need to enter a sober living program, these can do it. But, don’t just watch these movies and live vicariously through the characters, take the steps you need to get sober yourself.


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