"That's what art does, is it hopefully opens people's minds and hearts and allows there to be some sort of relatability in some aspect in that," the This Is Us star tells PEOPLE
The actress and musician, 42, reveals in an exclusive interview with PEOPLE that she took part in the film because she wanted to highlight the struggles that people with addiction go through.
"It was one of those things where I understand addiction from a food perspective because I have food issues, and I know people who suffer from several different types of addictions," she tells PEOPLE.
Stay Wake follows a mother named Michelle (played by Metz) who is dealing with a drug addiction and her two sons Derek and Ethan (played by Fin Argus and Wyatt Oleff, respectively) who try to aid their mom despite her multiple relapses. Metz says she felt the story was an "important" and "necessary" one to tackle.
"Not only do you want to draw not attention, but awareness to the particular role or the project, but that there are real people who are really struggling and who really don't want to be addicts," she says.
Metz notes that she couldn't "watch the movie without crying" because it deals with so many tough scenes that highlight the difficulties of overcoming an addiction.
"And the empathy I have for those people in particular in this situation, mothers or parents, it's just heartbreaking," she continues.
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The This Is Us alum says she had to tap into her own insecurities to get into the character's mindset of not feeling like a "good enough" mother or feeling unworthy of recovery.
"I think we all have insecurities in that way of just not being enough," she explains. "And I certainly have felt that way personally. That's something that is very deep in my sort of experience too. So, I definitely wanted to bring that too to the role."
She says she hopes the story, which was penned by writer-director Jamie Sisley and based on his own experiences, will help people better be able to understand what a person going through addiction deals with on a daily basis.
"That's what art does, is it hopefully opens people's minds and hearts and allows there to be some sort of relatability in some aspect in that," she says. "Also, when you educate people about a certain particular subject, hopefully the fear goes away and then maybe there's some healing through that."
Stay Awake is out in theaters now in New York City and premieres in Los Angeles May 25.
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Read the original article on People.