Dec. 2, 2021 – Addiction and recovery are potent sources of drama, and are thus frequently portrayed in media. They’re also easy to get wrong: to veer into melodrama, or to reach for easy answers and unearned conclusions. There are few aspects of human nature more complicated than addiction disorders, and our media isn’t always up to the challenge. 

Some movies, though, get things right—at least in part. These 12 movies aren’t perfect in their depictions, but they do shine a light on aspects of addiction and recovery that reflect real life, if not quite capturing it with 100 percent accuracy. Especially during the holidays, a time of year when struggles with addiction can feel especially acute, these movies feel especially significant. (In discussing the ways in which these films deal with recovery, I’m going to reveal some plot details, but these aren’t the kinds of films that can really be “spoiled.”)