TV Shows About Drug Addiction

tv shows about addiction

Hollywood has been very interested in addiction for a long time, using it as a minor or major plot point in many television shows and movies. However, there is an increasing number of television shows that offer a more diverse portrayal of substance abuse, dependency, and addiction. From reality TV to drama to comedy, producers have created a range of shows depicting active addiction and recovery. While some shows portray addiction more sensationally, others seek to show the nuance of addiction as a long and complicated disease, through the acknowledgment that addiction is gradual and seldom starts or ends with a singular dramatic event. Keep reading for Soba Recovery’s list of TV shows about drug addiction!

Top TV Shows About Drug Addiction


Nurse Jackie

  • Nurse Jackie is a medical comedy-drama on Showtime that follows a nurse in a New York City hospital who is addicted to prescription opioids. The co-creators of the show Liz Brixius and Linda Wallem all struggled with alcohol addiction at some point in their lives and created the show to portray a high functioning addict who is competent at her job but jaded by the self-centeredness of active addiction. Nurse Jackie avoids stereotypes of addicts to portray a realistic version of high-functioning addiction as a tight-rope walk, in which falling off results in pain and destruction.


  • Intervention is a docu-series on A&E profiling individuals struggling with addiction, following the consequences of those addictions and the effectiveness of interventions. The daily life of an individual who is substance dependent or suffering from addiction leads up to an intervention staged by their family and friends offering them an ultimatum: go to rehab or be cut off from the support of their family and friends. The involvement of the addict’s loved ones in Intervention offers a look into how addiction affects an addict’s loved ones. Intervention doesn’t glamorize drug and alcohol dependency for plot points in the way that other drama shows do, offering a raw look into the destructive power of addiction for everyone involved.


  • Mom is a comedy on CBS about a sober single mom and her estranged mother who is also struggling with addiction. Allison Janney and Anna Faris play the mother-daughter duo navigating how to repair their relationship while trying to pull their own lives together. Mom is one of few shows that emphasizes addiction recovery rather than active addiction and demonstrates the obstacles individuals face in navigating sobriety without getting weighed down by the despair or denial of addiction. Mom approaches recovery as it is, a difficult life-long healing process, with characters who endure setbacks but approach sobriety with hope and determination.


  • HBO’s teen dramaEuphoriapremiered in 2019 and almost instantly became wildly popular thanks to its raw portrayal of teenage mental illness and substance abuse. The show follows 17-year-old Rue Bennet who is a recovering drug addict as she returns home from rehab and attempts to navigate high school. Euphoria’s visuals and acting are alluring, and the show has received praise for its empathetic but brutally honest depiction of the challenges of addiction.

Recovery Road

  • Freeform’s Recovery Road is another teen drama series about addiction that follows Maddie, a high functioning 17-year-old addict, as she navigates teenage life after deciding to live at a sober living facility. Based on a popular novel by the same name, Recovery Road one ran for one season in 2016, but offers portrayals of various topics related to substance abuse and recovery including teen partying, the benefits of 12-step meetings, and the consequences of substance abuse.


  • Love is a Netflix comedy show about navigating modern relationships that quietly depicts two individuals, Mickey and Gus, struggling with addiction. Addiction is not the main focus of the show, but it is prevalent. Mickey abuses alcohol and prescription medications and then tries to stay sober, but smokes before AA meetings, lies to her sponsor, and struggles with the urge to resist drinking or using drugs. However, Mickey never truly reaches an explosive rock bottom as so many other shows depict, sensationalizing addiction. Instead, addiction prevents Mickey from connecting with others and living a fulfilling life. The dark, quirky humor of Love might be too much for some, but others enjoy the honest portrayal of non-sensationalized addiction.


  • Showtime’s comedy-drama show Shameless depicts a family that is poor and dysfunctional as a result of their single father’s alcoholism. The show balances portraying the compulsive and damaging behaviors of addicts with comedy while shedding light on the impact of addiction on families through Frank Gallagher’s actions and their consequences for his six children. Shameless can at times be over-the-top and far-fetched, but it’s often a realistic portrayal of a less-than-functioning addict and his family’s struggle to take care of him and make ends meet. The show offers an honest and eye-opening depiction of the impact of addiction on everyone, not just the addict.

Get Sober With Soba Recovery

While Hollywood has at times exploited addiction for ratings, more and more shows are trying to take an increasingly nuanced approach to addiction whether it be by portraying non-stereotypical characters, depicting the effects of addiction as a family disease, or focusing on lesser told stories of recovery. The diversification of television shows depicting addiction help break down taboo about addiction itself and open up conversations about it. Few of these shows shy away from the gory details of drug and alcohol use, abuse, and dependency, so be mindful watching if you are personally recovering and struggling with these sorts of triggers. Otherwise, enjoy watching these shows whether you find yourself critiquing them or reflecting because of them!

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction or substance abuse, please reach out to us today at Soba Recovery. We can treat a wide range of addictions at either of our two locations in Arizona or Texas. We look forward to helping you with your addiction!

Valium Addiction and Treatment

woman addicted to valium

What is Valium Valium also known as diazepam is most commonly used in the treatment of anxiety, muscle spasms, seizures, insomnia, restless legs syndrome and alcohol withdrawal along with a variation of other conditions. It comes in tablets with doses of 2mg (white), 5mg (yellow) and 10mg (blue). Valium is in the benzodiazepine family which […]

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The Dangers Of Quitting Alcohol Cold Turkey

woman experiencing withdrawal from quitting alcohol cold turkey

Alcoholism is a serious and deadly addiction that costs about 88,000 Americans their lives every year. This makes alcoholism the fourth highest cause of preventable death in the nation. Each year, roughly 17.6 million Americans are affected by alcohol addiction, and some will go to any length possible to overcome their addiction, including quitting cold […]

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Norco Addiction

norco painkiller pills

What is Norco? Norco (an opiate analgesic) is amongst some of the most abused prescription medications, in this case, painkillers. Norco’s active ingredient is hydrocodone and acetaminophen. The most popular Norco is a 539, 10mg hydrocodone and 325mg acetaminophen, and subsequently, it is the most powerful, more powerful than any Vicodin. The risk of dependence […]

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How To Have An Intervention That Will Work

family staging an intervention

It’s extremely difficult to watch someone you love ruin their health and their life because of alcohol or drug use. If your loved one isn’t ready to ask for help or reach out to someone they trust, you may feel like the only option is to stage an intervention. It’s common for friends and family […]

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Expressive Therapy For Addiction

person in recovery sculpting

Expressive Therapy, also known as Creative Art Therapy, is used in the field of addiction as a form of healing, where the process of creation is emphasized more so than the final product. Expressive Therapy is used to assist the client in getting in touch with his or her inner and authentic self. Creative Art […]

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The Biopsychosocial Aspects of Addiction

Silhouette depicting the biopsychosocial approach to addiction

Addiction is a biopsychosocial issue. It is crucial that treatment does not place emphasis solely on the drug of choice but on the entire process of the addiction at hand. At Soba Recovery our comprehensive addiction treatment program addresses all aspects of addiction. At Soba Recovery, we also incorporate the medical management of addiction into our […]

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Why Do Addicts Use Drugs?

Drug addiction is a serious problem in the United States. 23.5 million Americans suffer from drug and alcohol addiction. That’s almost one out of every ten people.

What is it about drug addiction that makes it so difficult to overcome? Why do people become addicted to drugs in the first place? This article will explore the roots of addiction and why addictive behavior ultimately leads to drug abuse.

What is Addiction?

“Addiction” refers to any condition in which a person is either compulsively ingesting a substance or engaging in a behavior that interferes with the person’s ability to maintain an ordinary lifestyle.

For example, a non-alcoholic can exercise self-control when he or she is drinking at a dinner party. An alcoholic, on the other hand, is a compulsive drinker. He or she is unable to exercise self-control and will continue to drink even if his or her job, relationships, or life are in jeopardy.

Many people who use drugs believe that they can quit on their own, without receiving any treatment. However, to think that you can simply “will” your addiction away is to misunderstand the nature of addiction.

Overcoming addiction has nothing to do with willpower or morality. Addiction is a disease that affects the brain. Although the right kind of treatment can help a person overcome an addiction, it’s important to understand that addiction isn’t just about behavior. It’s also about biology.

How Drug Addiction Affects the Brain

When a person uses drugs for the first time, they are usually doing so voluntarily. Over time, however, chronic drug use impacts the brain to such a degree that it no longer feels like a choice to use drugs. It feels like it’s something you have to do.

Most drugs affect the brain’s reward centers by boosting the production of dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter. Dopamine is responsible for regulating the body’s movement, emotions, and sensations of pleasure.

Your body naturally releases dopamine when you’re engaged in behaviors necessary for survival such as eating and social bonding. When dopamine is released in this manner, it helps to reinforce those necessary behaviors. When a person uses drugs and dopamine is released into the brain, this, unfortunately, reinforces the drug-related behavior.

Each time a person uses drugs, the brain responds to this abnormally high dopamine production by creating less natural dopamine. It also creates fewer dopamine receptors. As a result, the addict must either continue to use drugs just to keep their dopamine levels at “normal” or increase his or her drug use so that they can continue to feel “high.”

Studies show that long-term drug use can negatively affect the parts of the brain that deal with decision-making, judgment, and behavior control.

Given these factors, it’s easy to see why a drug addict feels powerless in the face of his or her addiction. Even if the person genuinely wants to quit, the changes that have been made to the addict’s brain make it extremely difficult.

History is full of examples of men and women who have overcome addiction. However, it’s important to understand what’s happening inside of an addict’s brain. Having this knowledge not only helps facilitate treatment, but it also encourages compassion.


H. (2012, December). Why Do Drug-Addicted Persons Keep Using Drugs? Retrieved December 01, 2016, from

Wilcox, S. (2015, July 25). Understanding Addiction. Retrieved December 01, 2016, from

New Data Show Millions of Americans with Alcohol and Drug Addiction Could Benefit from Health Care R – Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. (2010, September 28). Retrieved December 01, 2016, from

Sober in my 20’s, Is My Life Over Or Just Beginning?

That was the question that haunted me like nothing i had ever feared before.  All of my friends drink and party.  What will i possibly do when they are out having fun? Do i really need to make a decision to have a social life or stay clean and sober? Well, it has been almost 4 years in […]

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SOBA Recovery Center launches Neurofeedback Program

SOBA Recovery Center, a licensed addiction center, and Brainpaint, LLC will begin training and implementation of BrainPaint software in order to achieve a more in-depth understanding and acute treatment for alcohol and drug addiction. “When you or a loved one is unfortunate enough to contract the disease of addiction you have to treat it as […]

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