The best books about addicts, addiction, and the damage it does

S.C. Sterling Author Of Teenage Degenerate: A Memoir that Explores the Depths of Methamphetamine and Drug Addiction
By S.C. Sterling

Who am I?

I was a teenage drug addict, starting with alcohol then gradually moving onto marijuana then onto crystal meth. I wrote a memoir about my year as a methamphetamine that details my drug usages, and how it nearly destroyed my life and everyone around me.


I wrote...

Teenage Degenerate: A Memoir that Explores the Depths of Methamphetamine and Drug Addiction

By S.C. Sterling,

Book cover of Teenage Degenerate: A Memoir that Explores the Depths of Methamphetamine and Drug Addiction

What is my book about?

In 1996, Scott was nineteen and lost in adulthood with an endless job and no future ambitions. Teenage Degenerate is his story about drug addiction, music, and growing up. Over the course of ten months, he quickly descends into the dark and dangerous world of crystal methamphetamine. Scott experiments with crystal meth in a dark, deserted parking lot in the suburbs of Denver, Colorado, and soon after his crew of misfits will do almost anything for their next high. One by one, family and friends disappear, and he is left alone with a decision to continue fighting or give up. This is his struggle to reclaim a normal life and the search for something real.

Teenage Degenerate is a vivid, heartbreaking, and harrowing story that explores the depths of addiction.

The books I picked & why

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Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

By Hunter S. Thompson,

Book cover of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Why this book?

Hunter S. Thompson is one of the best American writers of the last fifty years, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is the pinnacle of his writing. I return to this book every few years, and I’m always amazed at his ability to convey the depiction of a drug-fueled frenzy. This cult classic of gonzo journalism follows the journey of Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo as they travel to Las Vegas in search of the American Dream, all while consuming almost every narcotic known to man. Buy the ticket, take the ride.


The Basketball Diaries: The Classic about Growing Up Hip on New York's Mean Streets

By Jim Carroll,

Book cover of The Basketball Diaries: The Classic about Growing Up Hip on New York's Mean Streets

Why this book?

The Basketball Diaries is an uncensored view into the teenage life of Jim Carrol. It details his life in 1960s New York City as a high school student, a basketball player, and a heroin addict. It is a beautiful book about the dark and haunting reality of teenage drug abuse. Teenage Degenerate has many parallels with The Basketball Diaries and was an inspiration while I was writing my own book about my personal experiences as a teenage drug addict.


Leaving Las Vegas

By John O'Brien,

Book cover of Leaving Las Vegas

Why this book?

A truly heartbreaking book about an alcoholic who travels to Las Vegas to drink himself to death, and the prostitute who falls in love with him. It’s a haunting story about addiction, but also a tragic love story. I feel this book is one of the best depictions of alcoholism, and how it can ultimately destroy you. The tragic story extended into real life as the author committed suicide a few weeks after signing the film rights. It is a hard read, but that’s what makes it amazing.


Methland: The Death and Life of an American Small Town

By Nick Reding,

Book cover of Methland: The Death and Life of an American Small Town

Why this book?

This book examines the meth epidemic in rural towns of middle America. It is an amazing piece of investigative journalism that focuses on the seemly ordinary residents of Oelwein, Iowa, and exposes the reasons behind the epidemic. It details everything from production to distribution and includes stories from users, cooks, dealers, law enforcement, social workers, and family. It is an eye-opening account of what can happen when jobs go away and factories close up and leave town for good. I have family members from a small town, and this book is never far from my thoughts.


Requiem for a Dream

By Hubert Selby Jr.,

Book cover of Requiem for a Dream

Why this book?

Another book about addiction and the American dream that manages to be beautiful and painful. This is perhaps the hardest book I have ever read, but also one of the most rewarding. It was dark and depressing, but a brilliantly written portrait of addiction. The way addiction sneaks up on you, and how it can become all-consuming; living and breathing the addiction. It was a very intense novel and one that stuck with me long after I finished the final page.


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