Addiction in the Movies
Addiction is a popular theme for those who make movies. Unfortunately it is often portrayed in a purely negative light with no real attempt to explain the motivations of the addicts. There are also those movies that try to glamorize the life of an addict. Thankfully there are some films that take a deeper and more honest look at the problem. Some of these not only examine the fall into addiction but also describe how people escape it and build a new life. These movies can be inspiring and of interest to people who are finding their way in sobriety. Here are just a few of most popular inspirational recovery movies.
28 Days is a 2000 drama starring Sandra Bullock as Gwen Cummings. The main character has a good career, but is forced to enter rehab after she ruins her sister’s wedding; she gets drunk and crashes a car. In the beginning Gwen is resistant to any type of help. She views rehab as being similar to a prison sentence and will not admit that she has a problem with alcohol. Gwen refuses to put any real effort into the rehab program. She does find herself becoming entangled in the lives of the other clients and starts to notices uncomfortable similarities. In the end circumstances force Gwen to take an honest look at her life. She acknowledges that she has made a mess of things, and that alcohol was a part of the problem. 28 Days is a realistic depiction of how people can find a new direction in life when they become willing to face the truth.
My Name is Bill W
My Name is Bill W is a 1989 movie based on the life of one of the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous. It stars James Wood as Bill Wilson and describes how he progressed from a successful businessman to a hopeless alcoholic. It follows his numerous attempts to get sober until he finally found something that worked for him. The turning point in the movie really comes when he meets Dr Bob (played by James Garner). It is the meeting of these two alcoholics that is considered the birth of AA. This is an inspirational movie and highly recommended for anyone who is interested in how the most successful community self-help group came into existence.
The Basketball Diaries
The Basketball Diaries is a true story based on the life of Jim Carroll. It was released in 1995 and stars a young Leonardo DiCaprio as the main character. It tells of how a teenager goes from being a successful basketball player to a homeless heroin addict. As his addiction worsens he completely loses any sense of self-respect and ends up selling his body in order to pay for his drug habit. He ends up in prison and then in a mental asylum. The road back to sanity is long and difficult but he eventually manages to put his life back together.
Drunks is a 1995 movie where the main action revolves around an AA meeting. It is an honest depiction of how alcohol destroys lives and how some individuals manage to escape this hell. The movie is all the more powerful because of its simplicity. The characters are believable and so are there experiences. This is a no frills look at addiction that will remind people in recovery about what it is all about.
Days of Wine and Roses
The Days of Wines and Roses is a 1962 movie that has aged well. It examines the destructive impact that addiction can have on relationships. Jack Lemmon plays an alcoholic named Joe Clay. He begins a relationship with a woman, and manipulates her into joining him in his drinking escapades. Addiction begins to destroy each of their lives. He is unable to hold down a job, and she almost kills their baby in a fire when she is drunk. Things become so bad that Joe is admitted to a psychiatric ward. He eventually gets sober with the help of AA and begins rebuilding his life. His wife refuses to get help for her addiction and continues to deteriorate. It is a sad film but a good reminder of the craziness of addiction.
Clean and Sober
Clean and Sober stars Michael Keaton as cocaine user and alcoholic. He starts off the move as a high functioning addict. He lives life hard but manages to hold down a successful career as a real estate agent. Things go wrong when he wakes up one morning with no memory of the night before. There is an unconscious woman in the bed next to him who has obviously overdosed. He also gets a message from his boss to say that money is missing and they suspect him. He enters rehab to escape his problems but with no intention of really changing his life. His reluctance to learn from the program weakens and he eventually decides to face his demons head on.
When a Man Loves a Woman
The 1994 movie When a Man Loves a Woman stars Meg Ryan and Andy Garcia. They are a married couple who seem to have everything going right for them. He is an air plane pilot so is away from home a lot of the time, and this means that he misses the early warning signs that his wife is becoming an alcoholic. It is only when her drinking leads to obvious neglect of their daughter that he is forced to recognize the problem. She enters rehab and manages to become sober. Her husband struggles to adjust to his sober and independent wife. This is a good recovery movie because it not only deals with addiction but also co-dependency.
The Lost Weekend
The Lost Weekend may have been filmed back in 1945, but it contains a powerful and relevant message about addiction. The whole movie is focused on four days in the life of an alcoholic (played by Ray Milland) as he goes on a bender. There are flashbacks to the past as the main character remembers how alcohol damaged his life and his relationships. He wakes up to how alcohol is completely destroying everything good in his life. The highlight of this movie comes near the end when there is an emotional speech about the reality of alcoholism.