Some of the most inspiring stories about addiction recovery can be found in documentaries. Most documentaries are created to change or improve society or shed light on a particular issue or injustice. These fact-based films have the power to portray the harsh realities of subjects that are glamorized or covered up by the media in a way that can captivate the viewer and leave them wanting to change the world by the time the end credits roll. Most documentaries about substance abuse are created to give viewers insight into an addict’s life, including the impact of their habit on their health and relationships. With that said, here are 10 must-watch documentaries about drug addiction you shouldn’t skip out on.
10 Must-Watch Documentaries About Addiction and Recovery
Please note that some of these films may be graphic and depict violence, the use of drugs and alcohol, and drug paraphernalia.
Filmed in West Virginia, Heroin(e) features three women – a fire chief, a judge, and a missionary – who live and work in the “epicenter” of the nation’s opioid epidemic. The focus of the film is the representation of the front line in America’s drug crisis. The town with a population of around 95,000 residents is showing alarming rates of opioid abuse.
Ten percent of the total population is addicted to opioids and other schedule IV drugs. This powerful glimpse into the opioid crisis from three different leadership positions earned an Oscar nomination and won an Emmy for Outstanding Short Documentary. It’s currently available to watch on Netflix.
Understanding the Opioid Epidemic
Understanding the Opioid Epidemic is another documentary film about drug addiction that focuses on the stories of people and communities that have been impacted by opioids. It traces the causes of the sudden growth in the use of prescription and illicit opioids, as well as the devastating impact it’s had on millions in the U.S.
Russell Brand from Addiction to Recovery
Russell Brand from Addiction to Recovery is arguably one of the most well-known documentaries about addiction on Netflix. This film follows the star’s struggles with heroin addiction and recovery. It defies conventional theories, breaks down addiction stigma, and puts a magnifying glass over social policies about drug abuse and addiction treatment.
Heroin: Cape Cod, USA
As a Massachusetts treatment center for addiction, we couldn’t leave out a documentary filmed in our area. Filmed in the “cinema-verité” style, Heroin: Cape Cod offers a glimpse into the heroin epidemic impacting small towns and communities in the U.S., particularly focusing on eight young heroin addicts in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Because 80% of heroin users started with prescription painkillers, and as more and more states legalize marijuana, the Mexican cartel has been pushing cheap heroin into the streets, and one area that’s been especially impacted is the picturesque summer vacation destination Cape Cod.1
Do No Harm: The Opioid Epidemic
Another documentary about the opioid epidemic, Do No Harm, was filmed at ground zero in Seattle, Kentucky, and ground zero in New Hampshire. The film features eye-opening stories from recovering addicts and families who have lost loved ones to the drug crisis. The film reveals the insights of leading doctors and law enforcement officers and hones in on the failures of drug companies to take accountability for their part in the crisis.
This documentary even goes a step further and investigates what monies legislators have received and offers positive insight into the facilities that offer long-lasting opioid addiction treatment.
Recovery Boys shows the reality and devastation caused by drug addiction as it follows four men through substance abuse treatment and recovery. It shows their perspectives on the highs and lows of recovery as they experience it themselves. Viewers watch as they reconcile broken relationships and attempt to rebuild their lives. As one of the best documentaries about addiction recovery, Recovery Boys displays the struggles and triumphs of gaining sobriety.
Addicted: America’s Opioid Crisis
This film opens up with children talking about the effects of their parents’ opioid addictions. They talk about the fear, abandonment, and harrowing experiences that will remain with them for the rest of their lives. Their comments set the stage for the behind-the-scenes of the opioid epidemic as the documentary confronts, investigates, and exposes its horrors.
The film offers a glimpse into the lives of various types of people that represent different aspects of the opioid epidemic. People suffering from addiction who can’t live sober, productive lives. Parents who have lost children to a drug overdose. Drug enforcement agents who are fighting to stop drug shipments. Overwhelmed drug counselors. It also shows a Purdue Pharma whistleblower that exposed the drug company’s shameful practices.
The House I Live In
The House I Live In is another documentary film about the drug crisis in the U.S. It offers a much broader view than other films as it encompasses the issues regarding the War on Drugs and not just the opioid epidemic. The film displays how millions of people are incarcerated each year because of drug addiction and explores the U.S. federal government’s criminal approach to what experts claim is a health concern. The documentary also illustrates the good and bad things about the nation’s approach to addiction treatment.
The Anonymous People
This feature documentary film is about over 23 million people in the nation who are recovering from drug and alcohol abuse. As a movement, The Anonymous People states that they’re the parents, children, and siblings who bring the power and proof of recovery to their communities. This engaging documentary was created to break down addiction stigma and show the world who addicts are.
From the film grew a worldwide effort to change drug laws that incarcerate people due to their addictions rather than help them find appropriate medical detox and treatment. Movies like this one represent the face of millions of families and individuals recovering from the impact of drug and alcohol addiction. If you’re in addiction recovery and need inspiration, this film offers a sense of hope and possibility.
This documentary takes a nose dive into the damage caused by methamphetamine addiction. The film follows the lives of several people from a small town in Montana, including a young woman who gets her drugs through prostitution; a former gifted athlete and straight-A student who turned into a meth addict after a year of use; and a 22-year-old Chippewa Cree tribe member whose meth use began at the young age of 11. Montana Meth highlights the physical damage of methamphetamine abuse, including skin lesions, tooth decay, paranoia, brain damage, and death.
Do You Need Help for Addiction?
It’s easy to forget how prevalent drug use is if you’ve never been personally impacted by it. There are millions of people in the nation who struggle with substance abuse every day, so many of which never get the help they need. If you or someone you care about is struggling with drug or alcohol abuse, our Massachusetts inpatient drug rehab can help.
Call Clearbrook Treatment Centers today at 570-536-9621 to learn how to get started on your recovery journey today.