16 Best Books About Addiction Update 05/2022

I’ve been sober for nine years and have read a number of books about addiction throughout that time. In fact, I began reading about addiction before I became sober––perhaps because something in the back of my mind told me that these books about addiction will be very significant to my life at some point in the future.

Not every one of these books is about addiction. Addiction has a role in many of them, especially the fiction titles, but it isn’t always the focus of the story. Addiction is a powerful, complicated disease that manifests itself in a variety of ways in our lives. The beauty of literature is its capacity to express all of the fascinating, terrible, confusing subtleties of subjects like addiction so that we can think on the many different ways it affects our lives.

32 Candles by Ernessa T. Carter

“Davidia Jones, a poor nerd, is abused by her alcoholic mother and disgusting father, and is the target of cruel mocking at her high school.” The 15-year-old flees town with Mama Jane, a lesbian trucker, and obtains a job as a ’40s-style chanteuse in Los Angeles. She redefines herself and starts living the life she’s always wanted–until James, the rich golden boy she used to have a crush on back home, walks into her nightclub.”

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie

“Junior grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation as a budding cartoonist. Junior leaves his problematic rez high school to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot, determined to take control of his own destiny.” Junior keeps a record of his observations, including the different addictions that afflict many of the adults in his world. “I suppose there are all kinds of addicts,” he says. “We’re all in anguish.” And we’re all looking for ways to alleviate the discomfort.”

America Anonymous: Eight Addicts in Search of a Life by Benoit Denizet-Lewis

Benoit Denizet-Lewis, an acclaimed journalist, spent nearly three years immersed in the lives of eight addicts as they struggled with drug and alcohol misuse, overeating, compulsive gambling, and sexuality. Denizet-Lewis’ candid account of his own recovery from sexual addiction, as well as his compelling examination of our culture of addiction, where we obsessively search for new and innovative ways to escape the reality of the present moment and make ourselves feel “better,” alternate with their stories.

American on Purpose: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriotby Craig Ferguson

Craig Ferguson was a punk rock musician, a construction worker, a bouncer, and, sadly, a contemporary dancer before becoming a household name. Ferguson turned to drugs and drink to mask the anguish of failure, addictions that eventually led to an aborted suicide attempt. But there’s a happy ending to his story: success on the hit sitcom The Drew Carey Show and later as the host of CBS’s Late Late Show.

A Piece of Cake by Cupcake Brown

“There are shelves upon shelves of memoirs about overcoming parental death, childhood abuse, rape, drug addiction, miscarriage, alcoholism, hustling, gangbanging, near-death injuries, drug dealing, prostitution, or homelessness.”

Cupcake Brown made it through all of this before she turned twenty. That’s when things started to become interesting…”

A Plague Year by Edward Bloor

“It’s 2001, and Tom’s town has been overrun by zombies. Meth zombies, to be precise. The drug rips into Blackwater, Pennsylvania, with such force and speed that it obliterates everyone. Tom is ready to leave. Tom begins to see some reasons to stay, to realize that even lost causes can be worth fighting for, with the selfless courage of the passengers on United Flight 93 that crashed nearby fresh in his mind and heart.”

Between Breaths: A Memoir of Panic and Addiction by Elizabeth Vargas

“I am an outcast from the minute she said the bold and honest words, “I am an outcast from the moment she uttered the brave and honest words, “I am an outcast from the

Elizabeth Vargas began writing her account while her experiences were still raw, describing herself as a “alcoholic” to journalist George Stephanopoulos. Vargas explains how she developed anxiety at the age of six when her father was serving in Vietnam, and how this anxiety affected her throughout her life in Between Breaths. Alcohol provided anxiety alleviation until, of course, it didn’t. Vagas talks about her rehab experience, her first year sober, and the guilt she felt as a working mother who “never struck the perfect balance.”

Basketball Diaries by Jim Carroll

“Jim Carroll became a well-known poet and punk rocker as he grew older. However, he was a rebellious teenager making a name for himself on the unforgiving streets of New York City in this memoir from the mid-1960s, set during his coming-of-age from the ages of 12 to 15. Carroll is out and about in New York City, hustling, thieving, getting high, getting addicted, and looking for something pure.”

Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction by David Sheff

“What had happened to my lovely boy?” I wondered. What about our family? What went wrong with me? Those were the heartbreaking questions that plagued David Sheff during his son Nic’s drug addiction and timid beginnings toward rehabilitation. Beautiful Boy is a brutally honest story that captures the emotional rollercoaster of caring for a youngster who appears to be beyond help.”

Beneath a Meth Moon by Jacqueline Woodson

After Hurricane Katrina devastated her house and separated her from her mother and grandmother, Laurel is attempting to move on. When Laurel’s new lover introduces her to meth, she is quickly enamored with the way it erases her history, even if just for a brief while. She becomes a shell of her old self as she becomes estranged from her friends and family, and she longs to be whole again.

The Bitter Taste of Dying by Jason Smith

“Jason Smith delves into the depravity and desperation required to maintain an opiate addiction so strong that he finds himself jumping continents to avoid jail time and learns the hard way that certain demons are unbeatable.”

Blackout Girl: Growing Up and Drying Out in Americaby Jennifer Strom

“By the age of 13, Jennifer Storm had started binge drinking and was well on her way to using cocaine and LSD on a regular basis. Her early years were filled with booze, drugs, and the agony of rape. Storm’s beautiful and harrowing memoir, Blackout Girl, reveals the depths of her addiction and her eventual journey to a life of accomplishment and joy.”

Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola

Being a blackout drinker is terrifying, no matter how delusional one may be. There are parts of your life that you simply cannot recall. Hepola began researching these blacked-out hours after she became sober, to see what they said about her drinking and, more significantly, what they signified for her sobriety. This is a beautiful collection of articles.

Bright Lights Big City by Jay McInerney

Bright Lights, Big City follows a young man who lives in Manhattan as if he owns it, as he visits nightclubs, fashion shows, editorial offices, and loft parties in an attempt to outrun mortality and the looming dawn. He runs until he reaches his reckoning point, where he is forced to recognize loss and, potentially, find his better instincts, with nothing but kindness, controlled substances, and wit to support him in this anti-quest.

Candy by Mian Mian

“At the age of 17, Hong abandons high school and flees to the city. As she navigates the city’s temptations, she falls in love with a young musician, and the two of them plunge into a terrible netherworld of booze, drugs, and excess, a life that fails to satisfy Hong’s desire for authenticity and a love that will define her. “A explosion of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll opens up a modern China we’ve never seen before in this fascinating and irreverent novel.”

Clean by Amy Reed

Olivia, Kelly, Christopher, Jason, and Eva all have one thing in common: they’re all recovering addicts who have been stuck in rehab together. They don’t want to be there. But if they want to learn how to live, they’ll have to deal with themselves—and each other.

Confessions of an English Opium Eater by Thomas De Quincey

“Thomas De Quincey vividly recalls the bizarre sights and hallucinating nighttime wanderings he had while under the influence of the then-legal analgesic laudanum, as well as the nightmares, despair, and paranoia to which he fell prey.” Confessions, which was first published in 1821, opened the way for subsequent generations of literary drug users, from Baudelaire to Burroughs, and foreshadowed psychoanalysis with its insights into the subconscious.”

Crank by Ellen Hopkins

“While visiting her largely absent and ne’er-do-well father, Kristina is introduced to crystal meth (“crank”). Kristina discovers her sexy alter-ego, Bree, while high. Bree will do everything Kristina won’t, including attracting the attention of dangerous boys who can supply her with an endless supply of crank.”

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