Need film recommendations re: Addictions

What classic or modern films do you know of dealing with substance addictions, or where an addiction is the central or a major point to the plot?

Offhand, I can think of only Reefer Madness (marihuana), The Lost Weekend (alcohol), and Trainspotting (heroin).

Any recommendations and which substances? Any favorites?

Days of Wine and Roses, about a coupla married drunks. Really old movie, really depressing.

28 Days. Sandra Bullock is an alkie that ends up in rehab b/c the judge orders either jail or rehab.

You could try The Addiction, which is about an addiction to blood (it’s about vampires, and it’s in black and white - made in 1995).

The Panic in Needle Park

When a Man Loves a Woman

(Meg Ryan, Andy Garcia)

About her alcoholism. Made me sob like a son of a gun.

Rerquiem for a Dream is about all sorts of addiction.

I second Requiem for a Dream and nominate

The Basketball Diaries,

the semi-autobigraphical story of Jim Carrol (who did that song “People Who Died”)

Drunks would seem to answer your question.

Leaving Las Vegas probably as well.

Who’s Afraid of Viriginia Woolfe - alchohol.

It’s an incredible film - highly recommended.

The Man with the Golden Arm, with Sinatra as a heroin addict (one of the first mainstream Hollywood films to explore drug addiction).

More recently: Drugstore Cowboy, Sid and Nancy, and Clean and Sober.

Pi is by the same director as Requiem…, and is arguably also (partially) about addiction, albeit in a far more abstruse way.

Permanent Midnight is a decent drug-addict flick, starring Ben Stiller.

What? Nobody has mentioned the made for TV classic Desparate Lives? Helen Hunt and the kid from On Golden Pond star as brother and sister in a High School with, shall we say, a slight drug problem.

  • Helen Hunt takes some bad PCP and jumps out of a window while screaming “I’m Invincible!!”

  • Brother and girlfriend drive their car off a cliff while smoking (apparently reeeeeally good) dope, look at each other and say “We’re flying!! hee hee!!” before crashing and dying.

  • Teacher goes through everyone’s lockers and ends up with more drugs than Yasgur’s Farm…

  • Students at an assembly, after seeing all their drugs from the locker sweep in front of them, realize the error of their ways and solemnly walk up, en masse, and empty their pockets, which happen to be filled with even MORE drugs…

Bad Lieutenant has at its core the depths a man sinks to because of his addictions. Amazing performance by Harvey Keitel. His character shows every vice imaginable: gambling (this is the big addiction around which the lieutenant’s life crumbles), booze, drugs, theivery, hookers, exploitation, and probably others I can’t remember.

Thanks! These are great so far!!! Muchly appreciated folks.

Brain Damage

Kid wanders around with a kind of talking turd monster in his pocket that has him addicted to its bodily secretions. It uses this dependency to leverage him into luring victims to where it can chew into their skull and eat their brain.


Oops, you wanted classic or modern, sorry. This is more low-budget cult (well, maybe).


This movie cracked me up. The protagonist is a toothless (definite fang issue) drunk whose life doesn’t seem to change much after he meets his vampire girlfriend.

Before vampire girlfriend: stay out all night and wake up on a subway.

After vampire girlfriend: stay out all night and wake up in the park.

I was less worried about her turning him into a vampire and more worried about him turning her into an alcoholic!

Others I can think of:

Clean and Sober, alchohol (with Michael Keaton)
Monkey on My Back, morphine
Losing Isaiah (Jessica Lange and, I think, Halle Berry) - crack baby issues
Traffic, cocaine mostly
Cold Turkey, cigarettes, a comedy in which a millionaire pays a town to go cold turkey

The Boost has James Woods and Sean Young blowing it all on blow. Not too bad, especially the final scene with a totally gone James Woods. He doesn’t do bad playing a coke head.

JohnBckWLD, I thought * The Basketball Diaries * was the worst possible adaptation of that book. I mean leaving aside the fact that 4’2" Leonardo DiCaprio portrays 6’2" Jim Carroll, and can’t play basketball to save his life (they should have gotten the guy who played Carroll in * The Goat, * an HBO movie about Earl Manigault). There is no sense in the movie that heroin is in any way enjoyable, or that it would have any attraction. I mean, the script could have been written by Nancy Reagan. I know Carroll approved it, and appeared in it and all, but it’s been a good thrity years since he wrote it, and is a very different person.