5 Great Books On Addiction And Recovery

“When you stop drinking; you stop waiting.” -Caroline Knapp, Drinking: a Love Story

There are many great books about addiction and recovery, but some of the most powerful come from the personal accounts of those who have survived addiction. The following list and summations are of best-selling memoirs, by both men and women, relating to drug and alcohol addiction and recovery. They are at times humbling, writhing, humorous, tragic, inspirational, and raw. They accurately and honestly represent both the seduction of addiction, as well as the aftermath. Most importantly, the books can benefit both the recovering alcohol- or drug-addicted person, and those who love them.

Tweak: Growing up on Methamphetamines, a memoir by Nic Sheff, is a guttural and visceral account of life beneath the spell of methamphetamines. Sheff begins the book with a relapse and weaves in raw fashion the pieces of his story into a coherent tale describing the seduction and misery of addiction and his subsequent surfacing from the depths of a lengthy rock-bottom descent.

To compliment Tweak, Sheff’s father, David, wrote a corresponding memoir called Beautiful Boy, describing the addiction from the perspective of a parent. And more recently David Sheff also penned Clean, an objective look at treatment and policy in America relating to addiction. The three books offer a solid overview of vastly unique experiences, while also examining addiction legislation and treatment in this country. They compliment each other well as sources of information and inspiration for those experiencing addiction first-hand as well as loved ones trying to understand the disease.

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Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp is the story of alcohol addiction from the perspective of a high-functioning alcohol-addicted person. Drinking won critical acclaim and is an honest memoir interwoven with biting wit. It interacts with the reader as both memoir and life coach. Knapp dealt with more than an addiction to alcohol. Subsequent memoirs chronicle her battles with anorexia.

Broken: My Story of Addiction and Redemption by William Cope Moyers, the son of CBS  broadcaster and former White House Press Secretary Bill Moyers, battled a cocaine addiction that “owned him.” This really is a story about burning bridges and rising from those ashes to build a life in recovery that continues to inspire. A unique aspect of Broken is it’s focus on changing legislation relating to addiction treatment in this country.

Lit by Mary Karr, is a memoir that echoes the struggle of a mother battling an unseen force. Karr sets up the reader for the fall in Lit, a story all-too familiar for anyone who has coped with addiction. As a young mother, Karr balances her drinking with rearing a child and her marriage. However, it’s a balancing act with a shifting foundation. Karr weaves the story together in a way that somehow avoids self-pity and instead examines these often cruel and sad details as the source of her strength today. More than anything, Lit delves into the culture of women and drinking from the perspective of a woman who had it all, lost it all, and rebuilt her life in recovery.

Parched is a memoir by NPR commentator Heather King, describing rock bottom unflinchingly in ways that will turn a reader’s stomach. Parched really gets to the heart of how alcohol takes over the mind and body, describing the vulnerability created in the wake of addiction. If you have ever wondered at the disease of alcoholism and how far it will go toward the destruction of a human being, Parched is a resource for understanding its unrelenting hold on the mind and soul.

The Benefit Of Memoirs On Addiction And Recovery

Books–especially memoirs–on alcohol and drug addiction and recovery benefit readers, whether they are currently struggling with or have dealt with substance abuse in the past, work as treatment professionals, or are the loved one or friend of someone battling addiction. They share insight into the mind of someone taken over by addiction and can help unravel the taboo and mystery that surrounds addiction. In some cases, they can help build a stronger connection between family members in the wake of addiction. They can even inspire policy changes as the veil and mystery surrounding the disease of addiction is removed and put into clearer focus for all to see.

Five Great Books on Addiction and Recovery


  • Tweak: Growing up on Methamphetamines by Nic Sheff
  • Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp
  • Broken: My Story of Addiction and Redemption by William Cope Moyers
  • Lit by Mary Karr
  • Parched by Heather King


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