Watchlist: 7 Shows Dealing with Substance Use & Mental Health


Substance use and mental health aren’t solitary issues affecting a single individual. Rather, it affects everyone around that individual. If you are a caregiver or caring for someone who is struggling, it can be challenging to know what to do or say or to even find resources or others with relatable experiences.

Whether you’re a caregiver or know someone who is struggling, the following is a collection of shows, movies, and documentaries that offer a glimpse into what living with substance use and/or mental health struggles is like.

7 Shows On Our “Must Watch” List This Summer

Four Good Days

#1 – Four Good Days | 2020 | R | 1h 40m

This show is about a mother helping her daughter (played by actress, Mila Kunis) work through four crucial days of recovery from substance use.

Learn more and watch on Hulu.


#2 – Flight | 2012 | R | 2h 18m

A veteran airline pilot (Denzel Washington) is hailed a hero after successfully landing an airplane following a disastrous malfunction. However, a deeper investigation threatens to reveal a past marred with substance use.

Learn more, and watch the trailer.

Single Drunk Female

#3 – Single Drunk Female | TV Series | 2022-23 | TV-14

Follows Samantha Fink (Sofia Black-D’Elia) who suffers an embarrassing public breakdown and is forced to move back home with her mother in order to get sober, despite feeling the pressures of drinking in our society.

Learn more, and watch the trailer.

Leaving Las Vegas

#4 – Leaving Las Vegas | 1995 | R | 1h 51m

Based on the novel of the same name by John O’Brien, the movie stars Ben Sanderson (Nicholas Cage) who loses everything because of his alcoholism and then arrives in Las Vegas to drink himself into oblivion.

Learn more and watch the trailer.

A Star is Born

#5 – A Star is Born | 2018 | R | 2h 16m

*Warning: This film contains drinking & depictions of suicide.

Follows a woman named Ally (Lady Gaga) on her road to stardom after she meets and falls in love with a famous musician (Bradley Cooper) whose age and alcoholism send his own career into a downward spiral.

Learn more and watch the trailer.


#6 – Addiction: Tomorrow is Going to be Better | Documentary Series | 2017 | 1h 1m

As part of The Addiction Series, a video series dedicated to helping/encouraging people battling addiction – Brandon Novak shares his story. Brandon is an ex-professional skateboarder who was on the TV show, Jackass, when he was young and had issues with almost every drug – especially heroin.

Watch this documentary on YouTube.

Simply Complicated

#7 – Simply Complicated | Documentary | 2017 | TV-14 | 1h 18m

Singer and actress, Demi Lovato, offers an incredible look at her struggles with addiction and mental health despite appearing to have everything.

Learn more about this documentary.

About Grace Gilmore 

Grace Gilmore is a student at the UNC School of Social Work working toward her master’s degree. She formerly worked at SouthLight in the Intensive Outpatient Program as a counselor. Grace has returned to SouthLight to intern with the Community Engagement Team and shadow the clinical programs that SouthLight offers.