Have you re-enrolled for Medicaid? Learn more about changes that could affect your coverage.

Six Inspirational Documentaries for Recovery

cinematic style six in gold and white on black background - documentaries

Using a combination of storytelling and cinematic features, documentaries provide an inside look at the lives of real people and cover a wide range of topics including substance abuse, addiction, and recovery. Watching an addiction-themed documentary helps you to understand what someone with an addiction feels and how their addiction affects their loved ones. Viewers get a true view of the destruction caused by addiction and the struggles encountered in recovery. These documentaries can also provide inspiration. They show how people changed their lives for the better, how they overcame difficult circumstances to achieve their goals.

Inspiring Documentaries About Addiction

Regardless of your current understanding of or experience with addiction, watching a documentary on the subject may inspire you to seek treatment for yourself or help someone who is struggling with addiction. We’ve listed below six films we think you will find inspiring. Please note that some of these documentaries are graphic in nature and show drug use, drug paraphernalia, or violence.

The Anonymous People

This inspiring documentary focuses on the more than 23 million Americans who were addicted to drugs or alcohol and are now living in long-term recovery. It is a very moving story told through the faces and voices of people from all walks of life, including corporate executives, volunteers, leaders, and celebrities who tell their stories to help save the lives of others struggling from addiction.

Russell Brand: From Addiction to Recovery

An award-winning actor, comedian, and author, Russell Brand got clean at the age of 27. Now a passionate activist for drug rehabilitation and mental health, he was inspired to make this documentary by the death of his friend, Amy Winehouse, who died of an overdose at the age of 27. Russell Brand wanted the film to have a sympathetic slant towards alcoholism and addiction that shows the possibility for a happy ending. In the documentary, Mr. Brand meets with a wide range of knowledgeable people, including research scientists involved in finding new recovery treatments, those studying the psychology of addiction, and drug addicts themselves.

The Shift

This is a docu-drama starring the late Dr. Wayne W. Dyer that features the spiritual journey of three people from addiction to recovery as they search for a purpose and meaning in their lives. The messages in the film focus on the need to make a shift in how you think. You can accomplish your goals once you change your mindset.

My Name Is Bill W.

This is the true story of William Griffith Wilson, a stockbroker and World War 1 veteran who founded Alcoholics Anonymous. In 1929 after the stock market collapsed, Mr. Wilson’s drinking developed into an addiction. The focus of the story is the development of the friendship that grew between Mr. Wilson and a fellow alcoholic, Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith. Together they started a support group for alcohol addiction, which later became Alcoholics Anonymous. The film goes on to tell how powerful AA became.

Generation Found

This documentary tells the story of a group of people from all walks of life who came together in a Houston community to start a youth recovery program. Tired of locking up or burying the young people of their community, retired football players, aspiring rock musicians, visionary counselors, law school dropouts, church leaders, and oil industry executives came together to build the largest youth and family peer-driven recovery community. The documentary was filmed over two years and looks at how the group of sober high schools, treatment centers, recovery programs, and alternative peer groups can work together and make a difference.


This documentary focuses on the opioid epidemic taking place in Huntington, West Virginia, where the overdose rate is ten times the U.S. average. It tells the story of local nonprofits, police, and judges as they try to help those struggling with addiction to opioids, prescription medication, and fentanyl. The title refers to three women in the city–Cabell County Judge Patricia Keller, Fire Chief Jan Rader, and Necia Freeman of Brown Bag Ministry–and how their jobs interweave as they try to stop the increasing number of overdoses. It also explores the psychological toll the great number of overdoses has on the first responders and explains how naloxone is used to treat victims. The film includes a number of interviews with people in recovery who talk about how their drug use affected their lives and their recovery.

Help Is Available

If you or someone you know has a substance use disorder, now is the time to get help. Take the first step to living a life free from addiction to drugs or alcohol. Canyon Vista Recovery Center in Mesa, Arizona, is here to help. Call and speak to a professional and begin your journey to living a clean and sober life.

Looking for AZ extended care treatment? Learn more about programs offered at Canyon Vista Recovery Center. Contact us at (888) 979-1840

Learn more

About programs offered at Canyon Vista Recovery Center

Scroll to Top