Addiction Recovery
By BrightView
Published: November 1, 2023
Updated: November 1, 2023

Addiction and drug use have always been popular topics in television shows, especially within the last decade. Fictional storylines of substance use disorder and recovery in TV demonstrate to viewers the negative consequences that addiction can cause in one’s life, as well as how much work recovery is for those who struggle with addiction. When shows include stories of addiction in a respectful and tasteful way, they help break stigma surrounding the disease. Let’s check out seven popular shows that reference addiction.


This Is Us

This Is Us is a drama that follows Jack and Rebecca Pearson, along with their triplets, as they go through different life stages. Throughout the stress of working, having triplets, and dealing with past trauma, Jack Pearson develops an alcohol addiction. Viewers watch as Jack’s alcoholism creates a rift in his and Rebecca’s relationship, thus drivinghim to make some poor decisions. Finally, Jack decides to quit drinking alcohol and go into recovery. Years later when their son Kevin is a teenager, he begins drinking underage to cope with stress, depression, and trauma. As Kevin grows up, his relationship with alcohol worsens. The show follows Kevin throughout his journey to sobriety and the struggles of relapse.


Perhaps the most popular show that features addiction, Euphoria tells the story of high school teenagers dealing with heavy life struggles, including addiction. The main character, Rue, has been dealing with opioid addiction ever since her father passed away from cancer. After he passed away, Rue started to use his leftover pain medications to cope with her grief, which then leads her to using other hard drugs and making dangerous decisions. Although this show is often seen as controversial, it shows how difficult and scary it can be for someone with an addiction to start recovery. Rue grows angry and upset with her family and friends when they try to take away her drug supply, which also shows how deeply affected loved ones are by her addiction. It is important to note that this show glorifies underage drug and alcohol use.

Recovery Road

Based on the novel by Blake Nelson, Recovery Road is about a teenager named Maddie who struggles with drug and alcohol addiction. She starts her junior year of high school in rehab, where she begins working on her recovery journey. At first, Maddie has a poor attitude about going to rehab and dislikes everyone around her, until she meets Stewart, another teenager in recovery. The rest of the story follows both teens as they navigate a world filled with triggers and temptations that could pull them back into addiction.

The Wire

The Wire is an American crime drama series that was primarily created and written by a former police reporter and a former homicide detective. The series tells the story of Baltimore, Maryland and the relationship between the city police and different institutions, including illegal drug trade. One character, named Bubbles, has a caring heart, but struggles with heroin addiction and often finds himself in troubling situations. The show follows his story, among others, as he encounters many ups and downs throughout his addiction. This show is often cited as one of the best series in the history of television because of its accurate depictions of urban life, society, and politics.

Nurse Jackie

This medical comedy-drama series tells the story of an emergency department nurse named Jackie Peyton who has a substance use disorder. Nurse Jackie follows the main character as she struggles with work-life balance, using substances such as Vicodin, Xanax, and Percocet to deal with the hustle and bustle of her career, and other life challenges like having an affair. The series has been praised for its portrayal of addiction and recovery.

Queen’s Gambit

Set in the 1950s, Queen’s Gambit follows the story of a young girl named Beth Harmon, a chess prodigy on the rise while struggling with substance use disorder. At eight years old, Beth loses her mother and is sent to live in an orphanage. While living in the orphanage, the staff forces the girls to take liquid tranquilizers daily to “balance their disposition.” The leads Beth to develop a chemical dependency for the tranquilizers. As she continues to rise in the ranks of the chess world, her dependency worsens and develops into further addiction with drugs and alcohol.


Dopesick is a critically acclaimed biopic that tells the story of how Purdue Pharma deceived doctors, sales representatives, and patients into believing that Oxycontin was the “miracle drug” to treat chronic pain. Although many of the characters are fictionalized, besides the Sackler family, they are all based on the stories and experiences of real people who were affected by Oxycontin. This show does an excellent job at demonstrating how the opioid epidemic started and how the Purdue Pharma tried to avoid responsibility for their negligence.


Through these stories and characters, viewers can learn and better understand the reality and hardships addiction creates. Although fictional, these shows do a great job at portraying addiction, recovery, and the ups and downs of it all.

No one should have to face substance use disorder alone. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please give us a call at 833-510-4357 or schedule an appointment online. We treat you like a person and addiction like a disease.

Photo provided by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.