5 Movies for Addictions Counselors


Updated November 22, 2023 · 2 Min Read

Explore this resource by Best Counseling Degrees to learn all about addiction counselor movies.

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Hollywood movies have a tendency to glorify drug use and drinking. Due to this, finding films that are ideal for addiction counselors and addicts can be a challenging activity. Out of all of the movies with realistic portrayals of addiction, the following five films are some of the best.

1. 28 Days

This film hit the theaters in 200. It stars Sandra Bullock, Dominic West and Viggo Mortenson. In the movie, Sandra Bullock plays a successful journalist with a drug and alcohol addiction. She manages to keep her life fairly in balance for a while, but everything devolves at her sister's wedding. Arriving drunk, she ruins the wedding before crashing a limousine into a house. The courts send her to rehab where she begins a path of self-discovery that is marked by a few corny scenes and sobering moments. Overall, 28 Days is one of the best movies for addiction counselors and recovering addicts.

2. Clean and Sober

Released in 1988, Clean and Sober stars Morgan Freeman and Michael Keaton. In the movie, Michael Keaton plays Daryl Poynter, a hot shot realtor who spends most of his nights partying. On one fateful night, Daryl wakes up to realize that the woman he is about to kiss is actually dead. Still drunk from the night before, he drives to a rehab center and sits outside with a beer as he decides about what to do. His original goal is to check into rehab in order to hide anonymously from law enforcement. This goal does not remain last for long before a skilled addiction counselor shows Daryl that he should be in rehab. Although it is close to 30 years old, this film is still showed in rehab centers because it shows a fairly accurate depiction of a 12 Step program and rehab.

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3. Leaving Las Vegas

Nicholas Cage plays Ben Sanderson in the 1995 movie, Leaving Las Vegas. In the film, Ben Sanderson is an alcoholic who has lost everything in life. His wife left with his son, and Ben was fired shortly afterward. Cashing out on all of his accounts, he moves to Las Vegas with the goal of drinking himself to death. While there, he meets a prostitute named Sera (Elisabeth Shue). After meeting him for a few times, she agrees to keep him company as he spirals into a deep alcoholism. The end is not a surprise, but the immense emotional turmoil it portrays leaves you thinking about the movie for days afterward.

4. Requiem for a Dream

Starring Jared Leto, Marlon Wayans and Jennifer Connelly, this film is quite graphic about drug addictions. Unlike most movies, it shows the dark side of drug use instead of glorifying it. Set in Brooklyn, the film shows a collection of recreational drug users who quickly become addicts. As their addictions become worse, they end up inhabiting the seedy underworld of Coney Island. Dark, intriguing and emotionally draining, this film is one of the best about addictions.

5. Drugstore Cowboy

The last movie on this list was created in 1989. In the movie, Bob Hughs and a group of addicts traverse the Pacific Northwest in the 1970s on a drug-fueled adventure. To support their habit, the group robs hospitals, clinics and pharmacies. When tragedy strikes, Bob Hughs attempts to sober up. His attempt at becoming sober shows him that becoming clean requires more than just giving up drugs.

For alcoholics, addicts and addiction counselors, these movies will hit close to home. Instead of glorifying addictions, they use realistic portrayals of the dark side of drugs and alcohol.

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