Bill Wilson, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, once stated: "We must find some spiritual basis for living, else we die." He fashioned a program where individuals with an addiction to alcohol could meet together, share their stories, and offer mutual support.
Drunks is set in a Times Square church basement at an AA meeting. Jim (Richard Lewis) reluctantly agrees to lead the meeting. But the painful retelling of his wife's death and his enslavement to booze and drugs sends him back to the streets and a new binge.
Meanwhile, the meeting continues. Rachel (Dianne Wiest), a doctor, explains her struggle to stay away from alcohol and drugs. Joseph (the late Howard Rollins) recounts blanking out at the wheel while driving with his five-year-old son. Shelley (Amanda Plummer) talks about how a visit from her mother has triggered feelings of anger. Debbie (Parker Posey) reveals her secret identification with Janis Joplin, a self-destructive singer. And Becky (Faye Dunaway), a divorcee who has problems with her son, volunteers to sponsor a troubled young woman. A man called Louis (Spalding Gray) wanders into the meeting by mistake and sees that he really belongs there.
Written by Gary Lennon and directed by Peter Cohn, Drunks reveals the spiritual underpinnings of AA and the service it provides to those on the path to recovery.