The Best Documentaries about Addiction That Will Destigmatize a Real Phenomenon

Jan. 20, 2023

Watching documentaries about addiction is an important way to gain a deeper understanding of the complexity of addiction and the various factors that contribute to it. These documentaries provide a window into the lives of individuals and communities affected by addiction, and can help to raise awareness about the issue. They can also help to break down stereotypes and misconceptions about addiction, and to humanize those who are struggling with it.


A Variety of Trouble

A collage of pills, money and blister packs

One of the key reasons to watch documentaries about addiction is to learn about the different types of addiction and the unique experiences of individuals affected by them. For example, documentaries about opioid addiction can provide insight into the impact of prescription drugs on communities and the challenges of addressing the opioid epidemic. Documentaries about alcohol addiction can explore the impact of alcoholism on families and the role of peer support in the recovery process.


Deep Insight into the Etiology

A man with a cap lighting up a cigarette in the darkness

Another important reason to watch documentaries about addiction is to gain a deeper understanding of the various factors that contribute to addiction, including trauma, poverty, and discrimination. These documentaries can provide valuable insight into the root causes of addiction and the complex social issues that are often intertwined with it. They can also help to raise awareness about the importance of addressing these underlying issues in order to effectively address addiction.


Addiction is Real

A woman holding a syringe with her mouth while looking at the camera

Additionally, documentaries about addiction can also help to dispel the myths and stereotypes that often surround addiction. They can help to show that addiction is not a moral failing, but rather a complex disease that affects people from all walks of life. They can also help to break down the barriers of stigma and discrimination that often make it difficult for individuals affected by addiction to seek help.


Which documentaries about addiction can I watch online right now?


Lost in Carranza

A boy in a red sweater looking through a fence while on top of a bench

This short film is a sensory journey through a moment in the life of Pablo Carranza, a young skater from San Francisco who is conflicted between drugs and life. In the night of October 12th 2015, Pablo Carranza, a young skater from the ghetto, lost and cut off from a system where everything goes too fast for the most vulnerable of us, withdraws into hard drugs despite his sobriety and battle against years of addiction.  Alone in his apartment, filled with remorse and guilt, he decides to confess by leaving a final voice message for his first love.

Recovery Boys

A long-haired man wearing a cap while looking to the ground

This is a documentary that follows the lives of four men in a West Virginia farm-based rehab program. It explores the struggles and triumphs of overcoming opioid addiction and the importance of community in the recovery process. The men in the program work on the farm, participate in group therapy and attend 12-step meetings. The film also covers the impact of the opioid epidemic on the community and the effects of the lack of access to addiction treatment and healthcare.


A woman firefighter with an ambulance beneath her

This is a documentary that focuses on the opioid epidemic in Huntington, West Virginia. It features three women who are working to combat the crisis, including a judge, a fire chief, and a street outreach worker. The film follows the daily lives of these women as they work to help individuals struggling with addiction, including providing them with medical treatment, finding them housing, and connecting them with support services. The documentary also highlights the impact of the opioid epidemic on families and communities and the difficulties in addressing the crisis.



A closeup of a person injecting something through their veins

Constructed mostly of intimate micro-narratives of relations between institutions and people, this distinctive film unites an immense universality of feelings held within the Social Income support in Portugal. Raw is a montage of cases, episodes or duels between the Social Income support and the Government budget, between drug-addiction and love, between Law and reason, and sometimes between life and death. As spectators, we look at the portraits that go by through the narrative, building ourselves, fortunate that we are, the ethical and moral quality of the wall that holds them.


The Narcotic Farm

A man sitting in a rehabilitation chair

A documentary that tells the story of the Lexington Narcotics Farm, the largest drug rehabilitation center in the world, which operated from 1935 to 1975. It features archival footage and interviews with former patients and staff, and examines the history of addiction treatment in the United States. The documentary covers the early days of the center, the treatment methods used, the daily life of the patients, and the eventual closing of the facility. The film also explores the broader context of the war on drugs and the evolution of addiction treatment in the United States.


A collage of three people telling their story about substance abuse

A documentary television series that follows individuals struggling with addiction and their families as they participate in an intervention and enter rehab. Each episode focuses on a different individual and their addiction, as well as the struggles of their loved ones. The show covers various addictions, including alcohol, drugs, eating disorders and gambling. It also highlights the importance of professional intervention and the role of family and friends in the recovery process.

Whatever the Weather

A highly contrasted cartoon of the lower body of people and their shadows

This award-winning animated short film tells the story of Wally, an eight-year-old girl whose life is increasingly turned upside down by her mother’s alcohol addiction. Minimalism and contrast are the two main aesthetic pillars that give form to this animated short film about a girl in a daily brawl for survival trapped in an asphyxiating domestic reality. Wally’s childhood is increasingly turned upside down by her mother’s alcohol addiction. She experiences the excesses and consequences of addiction first hand. Desperately, the eight-year-old tries to keep up normality in her own life and the life of her family by any means necessary. A roller coaster ride between helplessness, excessive demands and despair begins.


The Anonymous People

An old man with glasses looking to the horizon

This is a documentary that examines the lives of people in recovery from addiction and the importance of breaking the stigma surrounding addiction. It features interviews with individuals in recovery, family members, and advocates, and explores the role of peer support in the recovery process. The documentary covers the history of the recovery movement and the impact of societal attitudes towards addiction on individuals and communities. The film also examines the lack of funding for addiction treatment and the importance of peer support in the recovery process.


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