Alcoholism is a disease that has affected many individuals and families. It is a complex issue that often requires professional help to overcome. In this article, we explore the topic of alcoholism through the lens of film and music. We present a list of 15 movies and 15 songs that tackle the subject of alcoholism in different ways. These works of art offer insights into the struggles and emotions associated with alcoholism and can be a powerful tool for those who are seeking help and support.
Cinematic Depictions of Alcoholism
The following movies offer a range of perspectives on alcoholism, from dramatic portrayals of the consequences of excessive drinking to dark comedies that shed light on the disease’s lighter side. Each film provides a unique take on the impact of alcohol on individuals and their loved ones.
1. Leaving Las Vegas (1995)
Starring Nicolas Cage and Elisabeth Shue, Leaving Las Vegas tells the story of an alcoholic screenwriter who moves to Las Vegas to drink himself to death. Leaving Las Vegas highlights the end-stage of severe alcoholism.
2. Days of Wine and Roses (1962)
Days of Wine and Roses is a classic drama that explores the damaging effects of alcoholism on a young couple’s relationship. The film, which stars Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick, was praised for its honest depiction of addiction and its impact on those around the addicted individual.
3. The Lost Weekend (1945)
One of the first films to tackle the issue of alcoholism, The Lost Weekend stars Ray Milland as an alcoholic writer who spirals out of control as his addiction takes over his life. The film won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and remains a powerful and thought-provoking look at the disease of alcoholism.
4. When a Man Loves a Woman (1994)
Meg Ryan and Andy Garcia star in this dramatic film about a woman who battles alcoholism and the impact it has on her family and her marriage. The film is a powerful depiction of the devastating consequences of excessive drinking and the steps a person can take to overcome their addiction.
5. Billy Bob Thornton’s Bad Santa (2003)
A dark comedy, Bad Santa stars Billy Bob Thornton as a drunken mall Santa who uses his position to rob department stores on Christmas Eve. Bad Santa, although a dark comedy, still shows the harsh reality of alcoholism.
6. 28 Days (2000)
Sandra Bullock stars in this comedic drama about a woman who is ordered to attend a 28-day rehabilitation program for alcohol addiction.
7. My Name is Bill W. (1989)
This biographical film tells the story of Bill Wilson, one of the co-founders of Alcoholics Anonymous. Wilson masterfully portrays his struggle with alcoholism and the role he played in creating one of the most effective programs for treating the disease.
8. The Birthday Girl (2001)
Nicole Kidman stars in this dark comedy about a woman who battles alcoholism and tries to turn her life around with the help of a romantic interest.
9. Barfly (1987)
Starring Mickey Rourke and Faye Dunaway, Barfly is a black comedy about a drunken writer who spends his days and nights at a seedy bar. Unlike other movies on the list – Barfly displays unapologetic alcoholism.
10. The Baytown Outlaws (2012)
This action-comedy film stars Billy Bob Thornton, Eva Longoria, and Thomas Brodie-Sangster as a group of unlikely heroes who embark on a mission to rescue a young boy from a dangerous group of criminals.
11. Smashed (2012)
Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Aaron Paul star in this powerful film about a young couple whose lives are disrupted by alcoholism.
12. A Star is Born (2018)
Starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, A Star is Born is a musical drama about a rising singer who falls in love with a struggling musician battling addiction. Bradley Cooper, who stars in the movie is also notably sober off-screen and talks regularly about his sobriety.
13. Hard Candy (2005)
Ellen Page and Patrick Wilson star in this psychological thriller about a young girl who embarks on a dangerous mission to expose a child predator. One of the main characters in the movie suffers from alcoholism and provides an accurate portrayal of the disorder.
14. Trainspotting (1996)
Starring Ewan McGregor and Robert Carlyle, Trainspotting is a cult classic about a group of heroin addicts living in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Musical Depictions of Alcoholism
Music has long been a medium for artists to express their struggles and emotions, and the subject of alcoholism is no exception. The following songs offer a range of perspectives on the disease, from heartfelt ballads to rock anthems that tackle the issue head-on.
1. “Rehab” by Amy Winehouse
Rehab is a Grammy-winning song by the late British singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse. The song is a powerful and honest portrayal of Winehouse’s own struggles with addiction and her refusal to enter a rehabilitation center. The song became a hit and remains one of Winehouse’s most well-known and beloved tracks.
I don’t ever want to drink again
I just, ooh, I just need a friend
I’m not gonna spend ten weeks
And have everyone think I’m on the mend
2. “Breaking The Habit” by Linkin Park
This hard rock song by Linking Park is about a haunting and emotional inner struggle with battling ones’ addictions. The lead singer, Chester Bennington spent most of his life struggling with alcoholism and other substance abuse battles.
don’t want to be the one
The battles always choose
‘Cause inside I realize
That I’m the one confused
3. “The Bottle Let Me Down” by Merle Haggard
A classic country song, The Bottle Let Me Down is a heartbreaking ballad about a man who turns to alcohol to escape the pain of a broken heart.
Each night I leave the bar room when it’s over
Not feeling any pain at closing time
But tonight your memory found me much too sober
Couldn’t drink enough to keep you off my mind
4. “Clean” by Taylor Swift
In this emotionally charged song, Taylor Swift sings about the struggles of overcoming addiction and moving forward with a clean slate.
Ten months sober, I must admit
Just because you’re clean, don’t mean you don’t miss it
Ten months older, I won’t give in
Now that I’m clean, I’m never gonna risk it
5. “Rock Bottom” by Eminem
One of Eminem’s most personal and raw tracks, Rock Bottom is a powerful depiction of the rapper’s own struggles with addiction and the impact it had on his life.
I feel like I’m walking a tight rope
Without a circus net
I’m popping percasete
I’m a nervous wreck
6. “Last Call” by Kanye West
In this introspective track, Kanye West reflects on the consequences of his own excessive drinking and the toll it has taken on his life and relationships. Kanye’s lyrics are aggressive but show the reality of alcoholism in a fast-paced party lifestyle.
Flow infectious, give me 10 seconds
I’ll have a buzz bigger than insects in Texas
It’s funny how wasn’t nobody interested
‘Til the night I almost killed myself in Lexus
7. “Mr. Brownstone” by Guns N’ Roses
This hard-hitting rock song by Guns N’ Roses is a straightforward and unapologetic look at the consequences of excessive drinking. Mr.Brownstone is the persona given for alcohol and the song is about the battle against him.
Now I get up around whenever
I used to get up on time
But that old man he’s a real motherf*cker
Gonna kick him on down the line
8. “Sober” by Pink
In this emotionally charged song, Pink sings about the struggles of overcoming addiction and maintaining sobriety. With its powerful lyrics and uplifting message, Sober serves as an inspiring reminder of the strength and determination that is required to overcome addiction and live a life of sobriety.
I don’t wanna be the girl that has to fill the silence
The quiet scares me ’cause it screams the truth
Please don’t tell me that we had that conversation
I won’t remember, save your breath ’cause what’s the use?
These songs offer a range of perspectives on the disease of alcoholism, and serve as powerful testimonies to the emotional impact it can have on individuals and their loved ones. Whether you are a person in recovery or a loved one seeking support, these songs offer a powerful reminder of the strength and resilience required to overcome addiction and live a life of sobriety.
If you are struggling with alcoholism there are resources available. You can reach out to an addiction specialist here to talk about confidential treatment options. No obligation and treatment specialists are available 24/7.