Entertainment

20+ Great Drama Movies About Drugs and Addiction 

Ranker Film
Updated December 9, 2019 597 votes 142 voters 6.6k views 45 items

Watching a good film can provide all of the chaos of drug use without all the messy side effects. Dramas about drugs and addiction often feature the fraught relationships, desperation, and strife associated with being in the throes of addiction. This is a list of great drug drama movies featuring everything from Trainspotting to Requiem for a Dream to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

What films will you find on this list of drug dramas? Maybe you'll want to vote Trainspotting up to the top. Ewan McGregor stars as a heroin addict who will do anything for that next fix in this 1996 film. Painful withdrawals, drug deals gone wrong, and inappropriate relationships all add to tension of this heroin drama. The Panic in Needle Park, starring Al Pacino, is another good addiction movie. The cinematography of Spun only enhances the nervousness and hyperactivity that the movie's characters are feeling after taking meth. Other good films featured on this roundup of dramas about addiction include Shame, Traffic, and Half Nelson.

Which drug addiction movie do you like the best? Give your favorites a thumbs up and please add any notable films that are missing.

list ordered by
1
Requiem for a Dream is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 20+ Great Drama Movies About Drugs and Addiction
Jennifer Connelly, Jared Leto, Ellen Burstyn

Released: 2000

Directed by: Darren Aronofsky

Requiem for a Dream is a 2000 American psychological drama film directed by Darren Aronofsky and starring Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, and Marlon Wayans. The film is based on ...more

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2
Trainspotting is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 20+ Great Drama Movies About Drugs and Addiction
Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle, Jonny Lee Miller

Released: 1996

Directed by: Danny Boyle

Trainspotting is a 1996 British comedy drama film directed by Danny Boyle, and starring Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, Kevin McKidd, Robert Carlyle, and Kelly Macdonald. Based on ...more

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3
The Basketball Diaries ... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 20+ Great Drama Movies About Drugs and Addiction
Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Wahlberg, Juliette Lewis

Released: 1995

Directed by: Scott Kalvert

The Basketball Diaries is a 1995 American drama film directed by Scott Kalvert, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Lorraine Bracco, James Madio, and Mark Wahlberg from the non-fiction work of the same ...more

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4
Fear and Loathing in Las... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 20+ Great Drama Movies About Drugs and Addiction
Johnny Depp, Cameron Diaz, Christina Ricci

Released: 1998

Directed by: Terry Gilliam

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a 1998 American dark comedy film co-written and directed by Terry Gilliam, starring Johnny Depp as Raoul Duke and Benicio del Toro as Dr. Gonzo. It was adapted ...more

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5
Blow is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list 20+ Great Drama Movies About Drugs and Addiction
Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz, Emma Roberts

Released: 2001

Directed by: Ted Demme

Blow is a 2001 American biopic about the American smuggler George Jung, directed by Ted Demme. David McKenna and Nick Cassavetes adapted Bruce Porter's 1993 book for the screenplay. It is based ...more

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6
Drugstore Cowboy is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list 20+ Great Drama Movies About Drugs and Addiction
Heather Graham, Matt Dillon, William S. Burroughs

Released: 1989

Directed by: Gus Van Sant

Drugstore Cowboy is a 1989 American drama film directed by Gus Van Sant and written by Van Sant and Daniel Yost, based on an autobiographical novel by James Fogle. Matt Dillon stars in the title ...more

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7
Candy is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list 20+ Great Drama Movies About Drugs and Addiction
Heath Ledger, Abbie Cornish, Geoffrey Rush

Released: 2006

Directed by: Neil Armfield

Candy is a 2006 Australian romantic drama film, adapted from Luke Davies's novel Candy: A Novel of Love and Addiction. Candy was directed by debut film-maker Neil Armfield and stars Heath ...more
8
Scarface is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list 20+ Great Drama Movies About Drugs and Addiction
Michelle Pfeiffer, Al Pacino, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio

Released: 1983

Directed by: Brian De Palma

Scarface is a 1983 American crime drama film directed by Brian De Palma and written by Oliver Stone. A remake of the 1932 film of the same name, Scarface tells the story of Cuban refugee Tony ...more

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9
Boogie Nights is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list 20+ Great Drama Movies About Drugs and Addiction
Julianne Moore, Mark Wahlberg, Heather Graham

Released: 1997

Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson

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10
Party Monster is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list 20+ Great Drama Movies About Drugs and Addiction
Macaulay Culkin, Seth Green, Chloë Sevigny

Released: 2003

Directed by: Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato

Party Monster is a 2003 American factually based drama directed by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, and starring Macaulay Culkin as the drug-addled "king of the Club Kids". The film ...more
11
Christiane F. – We Child... is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list 20+ Great Drama Movies About Drugs and Addiction
clash1977 added David Bowie, Natja Brunckhorst, Jens Kuphal

Released: 1981

Directed by: Uli Edel

Christiane F. – Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo is a 1981 German film directed by Ulrich Edel that portrays the drug scene in West Berlin in the 1970s, based on the non-fiction book of the same name ...more
12
Spun is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list 20+ Great Drama Movies About Drugs and Addiction
Mickey Rourke, Debbie Harry, Brittany Murphy

Released: 2003

Directed by: Jonas Åkerlund

Spun is a 2002 American dark comedy-drama directed by Jonas Åkerlund from an original screenplay by William De Los Santos and Creighton Vero, based on 3 days of De Los Santos' life in the ...more
13
New Jack City is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list 20+ Great Drama Movies About Drugs and Addiction
clash1977 added Chris Rock, Ice-T, Judd Nelson

Released: 1991

Directed by: Mario Van Peebles

New Jack City is a 1991 American thriller action film film directed by Mario Van Peebles in his directorial debut, who also co-stars in the film. The film stars Wesley Snipes, Ice-T, Allen ...more

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14
Traffic is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list 20+ Great Drama Movies About Drugs and Addiction
Salma Hayek, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michael Douglas

Released: 2000

Directed by: Steven Soderbergh

Traffic is a 2000 American drama film directed by Steven Soderbergh and written by Stephen Gaghan. It explores the trade from a number of perspectives: a user, an enforcer, a politician and a ...more

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15
The Panic in Needle Park... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list 20+ Great Drama Movies About Drugs and Addiction
Al Pacino, Paul Sorvino, Raúl Juliá

Released: 1971

Directed by: Jerry Schatzberg

The Panic in Needle Park is a 1971 American film directed by Jerry Schatzberg and starring Al Pacino in his second film appearance. The screenplay was written by Joan Didion and John Gregory ...more

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16
Rush is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list 20+ Great Drama Movies About Drugs and Addiction
clash1977 added Jennifer Jason Leigh, Sam Elliott, Gregg Allman

Released: 1991

Directed by: Lili Fini Zanuck

Rush is a 1991 American crime/drama film directed by Lili Fini Zanuck and based on a novel written by Kim Wozencraft. It stars Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jason Patric as two cops in the 1970s who ...more
17
Less Than Zero is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list 20+ Great Drama Movies About Drugs and Addiction
Brad Pitt, Robert Downey Jr., James Spader

Released: 1987

Directed by: Marek Kanievska

Less Than Zero is a 1987 American drama film very loosely based on Bret Easton Ellis' novel of the same name. The film stars Andrew McCarthy as Clay, a college freshman returning home for ...more

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18
Leaving Las Vegas is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list 20+ Great Drama Movies About Drugs and Addiction
Lucas Clark Rios added Nicolas Cage, Mariska Hargitay, Elisabeth Shue

Released: 1995

Directed by: Mike Figgis

Leaving Las Vegas is a 1995 romantic drama film written and directed by Mike Figgis and based on a semi-autobiographical novel of the same name by John O'Brien. Nicolas Cage, who has ended his ...more

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19
Clean and Sober is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list 20+ Great Drama Movies About Drugs and Addiction
clash1977 added Morgan Freeman, Michael Keaton, M. Emmet Walsh

Released: 1988

Directed by: Glenn Gordon Caron

Clean and Sober is a 1988 American drama film directed by Glenn Gordon Caron and starring Michael Keaton as a real estate agent struggling with a substance abuse problem. This film was a ...more
20
Half Nelson is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list 20+ Great Drama Movies About Drugs and Addiction
Ryan Gosling, Denis O'Hare, Anthony Mackie

Released: 2006

Directed by: Ryan Fleck

Half Nelson is a 2006 American drama film directed by Ryan Fleck, written by Fleck and Anna Boden. The film stars Ryan Gosling, Shareeka Epps and Anthony Mackie. It was scored by Juno ...more

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21
Gia is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list 20+ Great Drama Movies About Drugs and Addiction
Angelina Jolie, Mila Kunis, Faye Dunaway

Released: 1998

Directed by: Michael Cristofer

Gia is a 1998 biographical HBO film about the life of model Gia Marie Carangi starring Angelina Jolie, Faye Dunaway, Mercedes Ruehl, and Elizabeth Mitchell. It was directed by Michael Cristofer ...more

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22
Sid and Nancy is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list 20+ Great Drama Movies About Drugs and Addiction
Courtney Love, Gary Oldman, Kathy Burke

Released: 1986

Directed by: Alex Cox

Sid and Nancy is a 1986 British biopic directed by Alex Cox. The film portrays the life of Sid Vicious, and his relationship with girlfriend Nancy Spungen. Despite failing to recoup its ...more

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23
True Romance is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list 20+ Great Drama Movies About Drugs and Addiction
Brad Pitt, Val Kilmer, Samuel L. Jackson

Released: 1993

Directed by: Tony Scott

True Romance is a 1993 American film directed by Tony Scott and written by Quentin Tarantino. The film stars Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette with a supporting cast featuring Dennis ...more

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24
Permanent Midnight is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list 20+ Great Drama Movies About Drugs and Addiction
Elizabeth Hurley, Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson

Released: 1998

Directed by: David Veloz

Permanent Midnight is a 1998 independent drama film directed by David Veloz and starring Ben Stiller. The supporting cast features Maria Bello, Elizabeth Hurley, Owen Wilson, Cheryl Ladd and ...more
25
Shame is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list 20+ Great Drama Movies About Drugs and Addiction
Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan, Nicole Beharie

Released: 2011

Directed by: Steve McQueen

Shame is a 2011 drama film written by Steve McQueen and Abi Morgan and directed by Steve McQueen. It premiered at the 2011 Venice Film Festival on September 4, 2011.

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