Best TV Shows and Movies About Addiction for People in Recovery

Inspiration can help people overcome tough situations. People in recovery, who often battle stress and powerful cravings, can draw inspiration for staying sober from various sources, including 12-step meetings, recovery coaches or sober living environments.

Aftercare services encourage individuals to remain sober during recovery. But inspiration can also come from unlikely outlets: cable TV, a nearby movie theater or on-demand streaming services such as Netflix or Hulu.

Many movies, documentaries and TV shows have explored various topics related to addiction recovery, from the challenges of the process to the value of support group meetings. Through authentic and fictional stories, these movies and TV shows can embolden people to fully commit to their sobriety.

TV Shows About Recovery

TV shows can provide you with more than just a half-hour of entertainment. Many shows today, from dramas to comedies, include fictional characters striving to stay sober. Some reality TV shows even feature real people who are working to avoid substance use.

“Recovery Road”

“Recovery Road” was a teen drama series that ran on the channel Freeform from January to March 2016. Based on a novel by Blake Nelson, the show centered on 17-year-old Maddie, a popular high school student who entered rehab after she was caught possessing liquor at school.

Throughout the series, Maddie struggled to balance attending high school during the day with spending evenings at a sober living facility. The show touched on subjects such as teen partying, the consequences of blacking out and the benefits of 12-step meetings.

“Intervention”

“Intervention” is a docuseries about the consequences of addiction and the effectiveness of interventions. The show profiles the lifestyle of individuals suffering from drug-related diseases — such as heroin addiction, alcoholism and eating disorders — and how it affects their loves ones.

The show’s participants often receive an ultimatum: Go to rehab or risk losing contact with family. Since premiering on A&E in 2005, “Intervention” has detailed the hardships of substance use problems, the process by which families instigate interventions, and the road to recovery.

“Celebrity Rehab Presents Sober House”

For six seasons, VH1’s “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew” followed a host of celebrities in their journey toward overcoming addiction. In 2009, the network created “Celebrity Rehab Presents Sober House,” a spinoff of “Celebrity Rehab” in which famous people transitioned from rehab to a sober living home.

Supervised by addiction and recovery expert Dr. Drew Pinsky, “Sober House” featured celebrities such as actor Tom Sizemore, musician Steven Adler and former NBA star Dennis Rodman. The celebrities entered a sober environment with rules, chores, curfews and meetings. The reality TV show presented the challenges faced by people in recovery, which may include triggers, cravings and relapse.

“Mom”

“Mom” is a CBS comedy series about the life of a single mother, Christy, who is in recovery from alcohol addiction. Throughout the show, she battles temptations to drink and regularly attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. Christy’s mother, Bonnie, also struggled with substance abuse but is now sober.

Like many people in recovery, Christy deals with stress: Her daughter is engaged to an older man and her son prefers to live with his father, Christy’s ex-husband. But she remains optimistic throughout, buoyed by her desire to create a positive future.

Films About Recovery

A number of films, including feature documentaries, also cover the realities of recovery. These movies allow viewers to better understand the difficulties of recovery, and they also could help reduce societal stigmatization of addiction.

“Russell Brand: From Addiction to Recovery”

“Russell Brand: From Addiction to Recovery” is a documentary film the British comedian’s life in recovery and how his past struggles with addiction affected his promising career. In the documentary, Brand recounts nearly dying of drug abuse and expresses his desire to remain sober.

He also explains how society portrays people experiencing substance use disorders and describes common public opinions on whether people should be criminalized or treated for addiction. Throughout the film, Brand meets with addiction experts and scientists to discuss the realities of addiction and innovative recovery treatments.

“My Name Is Bill W.”

The TV movie “My Name Is Bill W.” chronicles the life of William Griffith Wilson, who overcame alcohol addiction and co-founded Alcoholics Anonymous. The movie details how Wilson, a successful stockbroker, began abusing alcohol after losing his fortune during the stock market collapse of 1929.

Wilson sunk into addiction but achieved sobriety after experiencing a spiritual awakening. In 1935, he and Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith founded AA. As of January 2017, more than 2.1 million people around the world participate in the 12-step program.

“When a Man Loves a Woman”

Released in 1994, “When a Man Loves a Woman” tells the story of a marriage disrupted by alcoholism. In the film, the main character, Alice, deals with alcohol addiction. Her husband, Michael, tries to help her seek assistance for the disease. But once she completes rehab and achieves sobriety, Michael struggles to find his role in the family.

Codependency, enabling and the importance of 12-step meetings are common themes in the movie. It also shows how addiction affects an entire family — spouses and children — and highlights the effectiveness of support groups for spouses of alcoholics.

“The Anonymous People”

“The Anonymous People” is a documentary that shares the personal stories of volunteers, community leaders, corporate executives and celebrities in long-term recovery. The film aims to change public perception of addiction and humanize those experiencing this disease.

The film touches on how social stigma and discrimination have caused countless people to hide their past struggles with addiction. Once these individuals speak candidly without fear of stigmatization, director Greg Williams contended, society can better treat addiction.

For decades, Hollywood has detailed the struggles and triumphs of people in recovery. Films and TV shows about recovering from addiction can encourage people to sustain their sobriety while helping to eliminate the stigma associated with addiction.

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