Some documentaries about substance use disorders give the viewer a sense of how the addicted person feels, the consequences they face, and how they work through recovery. Others may focus on how families are affected by addiction or enlighten viewers on a specific issue or injustice, such as how addiction stigma perpetuates misunderstanding and prejudice in health care and the criminal justice system.
We offer a sampling of seven recommended documentaries about addiction and recovery.
- Bobbi Jo Under the Influence
This film tells the story of Bobbi Jo Reed. For 25 years, Reed has helped others overcome addiction, but before that, she struggled with drug and alcohol addiction while living in one of the most dangerous areas of Kansas City. Reed suffered physical and mental abuse, became homeless, and turned to prostitution. After hitting her rock bottom, Reed experienced a spiritual awakening and found the strength to move forward. This documentary shows how Reed attained long-term recovery and why more than 8,000 people now call her “Mom.”
- Prescription Thugs
Prescription Thugs takes a deep look at the pharmaceutical industry. In the United States, more and more people die each year due to prescription pill addiction and overdose. Others move on to more dangerous street drugs when they cannot get more prescription pills. Addiction can affect anyone, regardless of economic, social, or ethnic group. This documentary reveals startling truths about the world of America’s richest pharmaceutical companies who have profited from the prescription drug addiction crisis.
This documentary tells the stories of numerous teenagers who came close to dying from drug overdoses. Many of the adolescents in this film do not fit the stereotypical picture of teens people often associate with addiction. It tells the stories of star athletes, students with 4.0-grade point averages, private school students, and students who received prestigious scholarships. Many of these teenagers suffered from comas, serious long-term health problems, and extreme social and academic consequences.
- Take Your Pills
This film looks into how extensively American young people abuse and become addicted to stimulants typically prescribed to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Drugs like Adderall, Vyvanse, Dexedrine, Ritalin, Suprenza, Concerta, and ProCentra are increasingly being abused by college students trying to improve their cognitive abilities, focus, and energy. Often teenagers and young adults who take prescription stimulants are unaware of the risks they carry. This documentary reveals the truth about prescription stimulants showing their dangers and risks.
- My Name Was Bette: The Life and Death of an Alcoholic
This documentary explores alcoholism in women by chronicling its development and progression in Bette VandenAkker. Bette was a wife, mother, and nurse who lost her life to the disease of alcoholism in 2007. Co-produced by her daughter, Sherri VandenAkker, the documentary provides an in-depth and personal look at the psychological and physiological toll of alcoholism by using interviews with Bette’s daughters and close friends, medical records, family photographs, court documents, and vintage medical graphics. Although the film lovingly tells the story of Bette’s journey, it also shows the effects of alcohol abuse and addiction on women.
- Do You Care? A Documentary About Addiction
This selection relays the stories of four women and their struggles with addiction. It tells how their addiction impacted their lives and changed them forever. Each woman shares her story of addiction, difficult circumstances, hardship, and recovery. The documentary also includes perspectives from health care workers, the recovery community, law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, and others in positions who deal with those in crisis every day.
- Warning: This Drug May Kill You
This film tells the stories of four families and how their lives were affected by opioid addictions. Each family had a loved one with a prescription for painkillers. Their prescription use led to medication abuse and addiction. Often legitimate prescriptions for painkillers led to abuse and addiction to illegal drugs such as heroin. The documentary includes interviews, home videos, personal photographs, statistics, and information about opioids.
If You Need Help
If you or someone you love struggles with an alcohol or drug addiction, now is the time to get the help you need. At Anabranch Recovery Center located in Terre Haute, Indiana, our staff of highly skilled, caring professionals will guide you along your path to recovery.
About the Author:
Terry Hurley is a retired educational professional and freelance writer with more than fifty years of experience. A former reading specialist and learning center director, Terry loved her years working with children in the educational field. She has written extensively for print and online publications specializing in education and health issues. For the last six years, her writing focus has been on addiction and mental health issues.