The most recommended books about addiction

Who picked these books? Meet our 73 experts.

73 authors created a book list connected to addiction, and here are their favorite addiction books.
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Book cover of From the Ashes: My Story of Being Metis, Homeless, and Finding My Way

N.L. Blandford Author Of The Great Bloody North

From N.L.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Crime fighter Entrepreneur Strong female lead Coach

N.L.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023

N.L. Blandford Why did N.L. love this book?

The beautiful prose kept me wanting to find out how Jesse went from an abandoned child to a homeless addict and then persevered to become an academic as an adult.

It was a difficult read at times, and I needed to process what I was reading. At one point, I thought I would cry from the heartbreak of what Jesse, as both a young child and an adult, endured. Jesse shines a light on Canada’s systemic racism and the treatment of the homeless population.

I was left wondering how he survived all his tribulations and happy that he did. We need to hear more stories like this on our way to reconciliation.

This is a must-read for anyone who enjoys memoirs!

By Jesse Thistle,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked From the Ashes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*#1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER
*Winner, Kobo Emerging Writer Prize Nonfiction
*Winner, Indigenous Voices Awards
*Winner, High Plains Book Awards
*Finalist, CBC Canada Reads
*A Globe and Mail Book of the Year
*An Indigo Book of the Year
*A CBC Best Canadian Nonfiction Book of the Year

In this extraordinary and inspiring debut memoir, Jesse Thistle, once a high school dropout and now a rising Indigenous scholar, chronicles his life on the streets and how he overcame trauma and addiction to discover the truth about who he is.

If I can just make it to the next minute...then I might have a…


Book cover of Lights All Night Long

Sherry Chiger Author Of Beyond Billicombe

From my list on families affected by addiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

Having known families affected by substance abuse, I’ve long been fascinated by the resiliency of addicts’ relatives and close friends. Equally compelling to me, as a one-time wannabe psychologist, was how living with substance abusers shaped people’s characters and lives. But while the search for a recovering addict drives Beyond Billicombes plot, the book is also an ode of sorts to North Devon, the area of England where I spent three of the happiest years of my life. Though I now live outside New York City, I haven’t given up hope on being able to move back there someday. 

Sherry's book list on families affected by addiction

Sherry Chiger Why did Sherry love this book?

From the first paragraph, with its almost-throwaway mention of how a hook had given a coat "a permanent hump behind the collar," Lights All Night Long transports you with its authenticity. The bond between Ilya, a Russian teenager who wins a scholarship to study in a Louisiana high school, and his older brother, Vladimir, whose addiction to krokodil has replaced his urge to escape their industrial town, is limned beautifully. A mystery drives the plot, but that’s not why I love this book. What kept me reading was the heartbreaking truth of its world.  

By Lydia Fitzpatrick,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lights All Night Long as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A gripping and deftly plotted narrative of family and belonging, Lights All Night Long is a dazzling debut novel from an acclaimed young writer

"Lights All Night Long is utterly brilliant and completely captivating. . . . One of the most propulsive, un-put-downable literary novels I've read in ages."--Anthony Marra, author of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

Fifteen-year-old Ilya arrives in Louisiana from his native Russia for what should be the adventure of his life: a year in America as an exchange student. But all is not right in Ilya's world: he's consumed by the fate of his older brother…


Book cover of Strung Out: One Last Hit and Other Lies That Nearly Killed Me

Carol Weis Author Of Stumbling Home: Life Before and After That Last Drink

From my list on addiction memoirs I wish I had when I got sober.

Why am I passionate about this?

I come from a family of “functional” alcoholics, where feelings were never discussed and drinking was the way to solve (or more likely avoid or cause) problems. After 25 years of abusing alcohol (and drugs), I finally got sober. And for the first time ever, I started writing, because all those feelings I pushed down wanted a voice. All that childhood trauma needed more than AA and talk therapy to heal.  So I gifted those feelings with written words, as did the writers I mention in my list. Recovery is something to pass on and telling our stories is another healing way to do it.

Carol's book list on addiction memoirs I wish I had when I got sober

Carol Weis Why did Carol love this book?

I worked with Erin on a deeply personal essay when she was an editor at Ravishly and was so excited when her memoir was published. Though we used different drugs and came from different backgrounds, our stories were similar, as are most addicts. We use to get rid of the pain, the shame, the anxiety/depression, whatever ails us. We find reprieve through our addictions, but find a loving life in recovery. 

By Erin Khar,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Strung Out as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“This is a story she needed to tell; and the rest of the country needs to listen.”
— New York Times Book Review

“This vital memoir will change how we look at the opioid crisis and how the media talks about it. A deeply moving and emotional read, STRUNG OUT challenges our preconceived ideas of what addiction looks like.”
—Stephanie Land, New York Times bestselling author of Maid

In this deeply personal and illuminating memoir about her fifteen-year struggle with heroin, Khar sheds profound light on the opioid crisis and gives a voice to the over two million people in…


Book cover of Under the Influence: A Life-Saving Guide to the Myths and Realities of Alcholism

James Brown Author Of The Los Angeles Diaries: A Memoir

From my list on addiction and recovery from someone who has been there.

Why am I passionate about this?

I took my first hit of marijuana when I was 9. I had my first drink at 12 and my first shot of heroin at 14.  My brother and sister were also alcoholics and ended up taking their own lives. I abused drugs and alcohol for over 30 years, and after many failed attempts to turn my life around, I now have 15 years of continuous sobriety. I’ve also read almost ninety books on the topic of substance abuse and have written several myself about my personal struggles to get clean and sober and stay that way.  Addiction, sadly, is a subject I know all too well.

James' book list on addiction and recovery from someone who has been there

James Brown Why did James love this book?

This is one of the first books I read when I realized that I had a serious problem with drinking. Not only did it help me better understand my addiction from a genetic, scientific point-of-view, it also helped me diagnose myself as an alcoholic. Written for the lay-reader, it’s short, packed with hard facts and eye-opening studies about alcoholism. It’s a classic. And it’s also inspiring when it comes to recovery and treatment. I’ve recommended it dozens of times to people who’ve asked me where they could find out more about alcoholism, if not for themselves, then for those they love who have a serious drinking problem.

By James R. Milam, Katherine Ketcham,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Under the Influence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The now-classic guide to alcoholism returns with new, enlightening research that confirms the revolutionary ideas first trailblazed by this book in a time when such theories were unheard of—now featuring a new foreword, new resources, and the same reliable insights and easy-to-read style.

“This book is truly informative, powerful, and an invaluable resource on overcoming alcoholism.”—Angela Diaz, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H.
 
Ten of millions of Americans suffer from alcoholism, yet most people still wrongly believe that alcoholism is a psychological or moral problem that can be “cured” once the purported underlying psychological problems or moral failings of the alcoholic are addressed.…


Book cover of Mennonite Girl at the Welcome Inn

Karen Harmon Author Of Where Is My Happy Ending?: A Journey of No Regrets

From my list on mental health, addiction, and families.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have the expertise for this topic because I was raised in a loving home with a mother who struggled with bipolar disorder. At times my life was hilariously adventurous or heart-wrenchingly sad. Given little direction, I married an alcoholic and then went on to work at a Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center. I have fallen on hard times, but at the age of thirty-two, as a single mother collecting welfare, I managed to grief, heal and dig myself out, creating a rewarding life. I am optimistic, and I try to find humour in all things, especially after the tears and healing have subsided. My writing has brought me tremendous healing and joy.

Karen's book list on mental health, addiction, and families

Karen Harmon Why did Karen love this book?

This lovely memoir follows Mary, the daughter of Mennonite Pastors. Her recollections are comical and heartwarming as she deals with growing up in a Mennonite home in a non-Mennonite community. The creativity that goes with being raised with little means and living frugally makes Mary and her family rich beyond belief in adventure and storytelling.

By Mary Ediger,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mennonite Girl at the Welcome Inn as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Welcome to the Welcome Inn and welcome to the life of Mary Ediger. A work of creative non-fiction, Mennonite Girl follows Mary from her life as a young girl in a quiet rural parsonage to an inner city community center in Hamilton, Ontario.
The daughter of a Mennonite preacher, Mary struggles with the trials of growing up Mennonite in a non-Mennonite community, while her parents continue to follow God's call. Young and old, religious and non-religious readers alike will find themselves drawn into Mary's tale, laughing all the while as she deals with everything life throws at her.
With interminable…


Book cover of Don't Make Me Stop This Car!

Craig Melvin Author Of Pops: Learning to Be a Son and a Father

From my list on for families dealing with addiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

My name is Craig Melvin and I’m an anchor on NBC’s Today show. I’m also a father to my two young kids, Delano and Sybil. Being a dad is so important to me because when you’re a parent, you’re charged with shaping and molding a solid human being whose empathetic, compassionate, and responsible. I don’t take the responsibility lightly. Of the many jobs I have, it’s the most important.  

Craig's book list on for families dealing with addiction

Craig Melvin Why did Craig love this book?

No list of books for Dads would be complete without this one from my buddy, Al Roker. In Don’t Make Me Stop This Car, Al looks at the highs and lows of being a parent. Not only does it have his classic Roker charm and sense of humor, but he also writes about his experiences with infertility treatments and adoption. It’s become a favorite because he’s been a great friend and mentor to me. 

By Ali Stroker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Don't Make Me Stop This Car! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The famed weatherman on NBC's Today show offers a collection of essays, some serious, some humourous, offering his thoughts on parenting and life in general that draw on his experiences as the father of two girls and his own childhood as the oldest of six children. 200,000 first printing.


Book cover of Go Ask Alice

Anna Esaki-Smith Author Of Make College Your Superpower: It's Not Where You Go, It's What You Know

From my list on books for teenagers about stuff parents don’t—or can’t—discuss.

Why am I passionate about this?

I understand how stressful it is to be a teenager today. And we’re talking stress across a variety of fronts, from academics to personal matters and everything in between. In my book on college admissions, I advise high schoolers to use data so they can get the most value from their university education as well as reduce the anxiety of what can be an overwhelming process. In my book recommendations, I’ve chosen novels the teenaged me thought honestly depicted the emotional challenges teenagers face and how those challenges are resolved. Whether it be applying to college or developing relationships, the key is to be authentic in who you are!

Anna's book list on books for teenagers about stuff parents don’t—or can’t—discuss

Anna Esaki-Smith Why did Anna love this book?

I’m sure there’s a lot of research about how people decide what book to read. I picked up this one because the cover was inky black, and the author was only identified as “Anonymous,” a pre-Internet version of clickbait!

However, I wasn’t disappointed as this book starkly chronicled a young woman’s descent into drug use through her diary entries. By reading a book presented in such a personal format, I really felt scared for the writer as she continually put herself in dangerous situations while her life spiraled out of control. I was also fascinated by some of the period details she provided, like detangling her just-shampooed hair with mayonnaise. I even tried that once!

Although “Anonymous” ended up being an adult writer, this book made me understand more about resilience and the power of redemption rather than the dangers of drug addiction, which, frankly, I had already learned in…

By Anonymous,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Go Ask Alice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

A teen plunges into a downward spiral of addiction in this classic cautionary tale.

January 24th
After you’ve had it, there isn't even life without drugs…

It started when she was served a soft drink laced with LSD in a dangerous party game. Within months, she was hooked, trapped in a downward spiral that took her from her comfortable home and loving family to the mean streets of an unforgiving city. It was a journey that would rob her of her innocence, her youth—and ultimately her life.

Read her diary.
Enter her world.
You will never forget her.

For thirty-five…


Book cover of Days of Wine and Roses

Deb Palmer Author Of In Spite Of Us: A Love Story about Second Chances

From my list on portraying addiction and family dysfunction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I can say in truth and with humor, that I’m overqualified on this topic. My parents are both alcoholics, I followed suit along with two siblings and married into the club, not once but twice. Thank God my second marriage was to a recovering alcoholic. Today I’m approaching 30 years of sobriety while hubby remains in the lead with 34 years. Knowing what it’s like to live with another alcoholic, practice the art yourself and find a way through it, should be the equivalent of a doctorate on addiction. I know the pain, denial, struggle, and all the lies. Most importantly, I have the heart to help others who, like myself, march on the front line of this battle.

Deb's book list on portraying addiction and family dysfunction

Deb Palmer Why did Deb love this book?

The most valuable lesson I received is that sometimes you have to let loved ones make bad choices. There’s nothing you can do beyond prayer and hope.

This book and the movie portray the good in people who do bad or stupid things. You end up loving the characters no matter how bad their choices. Sadly, many can relate to the story through family, friends, or even themself. The characters are believable and I would wager the author based the story on real life. It’s also an excellent book for anyone needing an introduction to recovery programs like Alanon, ACOA, or Alcoholics Anonymous. The story’s message is important: You have to be willing to change and trust in a power higher than yourself.

By J.P. Miller,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Days of Wine and Roses as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Book by Miller, J. P


Book cover of Wasting Talent

Joe Clifford Author Of Junkie Love: A Story of Recovery and Redemption

From my list on what addiction is really like, no punches pulled.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a mystery writer and teacher now. Back then, I spent 10 years homeless and addicted on the streets of San Francisco. I could always return to Mom in CT and get put in a cushy rehab. Until I couldn't. And then she was dying, and my younger brother was addicted and soon he'd be dead too. It got scary at the end because I wasn't just some white suburban kid playing a scumbag junkie. I was a scumbag junkie. But why do I have a passion for the topic? I guess it's because it isn't all bad. I know that sounds weird, but being homeless and addicted has moments of beauty and joy too. 

Joe's book list on what addiction is really like, no punches pulled

Joe Clifford Why did Joe love this book?

This one hurts. Because when I was asked to write this list, Ryan’s book immediately came to mind. Part fiction, part memoir, all hell, Wasted Talent might be the most aptly titled book ever. See, Ryan, who was an amazing writer, talent, and friend, died last week. I don’t know what of. I’m not gonna speculate. But he was in his thirties and wasn’t hit by a car. Over the last few years, Ryan and I weren’t in touch as much, though I did put money on his books when he returned to prison. Ryan’s life and work are a testament to one irrefutable fact. I didn’t go the AA route. But, boy did they get the final destination right. Addiction ends one of three ways: jails, institutions, death. Wasted Talent is Ryan’s only novel. That he didn’t grace the world with more defends his titular choices.

By Ryan Leone,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Wasting Talent as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

ALL AUTHOR PROCEEDS FROM KINDLE VERSION WILL GO TOWARDS STARTING A NON-PROFIT TO HELP OPIOD ADDICTS GET NARCAN FOR FREE (a life saving drug used to reverse overdoses and save lives.)

Ryan Leone's Wasting Talent stands out as a shining example of survivor literature. Ryan's prose evokes lost giants like Hubert Selby Jr and Eddie Little. As art, and as inspiration, Wasting Talent delivers. Ryan Leone is the real deal!"
- Jerry Stahl, bestselling author of Permanent Midnight

"I feel I should write a disclaimer about Ryan Leone's Wasting Talent, like 'Don't try this at home.' So, I will: Don't…


Book cover of The Porn Pandemic: A Simple Guide To Understanding And Ending Pornography Addiction For Men

Havard Mela Author Of How to Thrive in the 21st Century: By Avoiding Porn and Other Distractions

From my list on porn addiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

As someone who has felt the consequences of spending too much time online on distractions, I am compelled to share how much better life can be when we are conscious of the time we spend online. In my early twenties, I experienced digital addiction. I managed to turn things around by cultivating discipline and finding purpose in life. In the process, I developed a deep interest in neuroscience and psychology. My book explains how you can take conscious control of your life in a practical way based on my experience backed up by research.

Havard's book list on porn addiction

Havard Mela Why did Havard love this book?

This book explains why watching porn is a problem and how ingrained it has become in our society. You will understand why watching porn can be harmful at a deep level after reading this book.

The book also explains why objectification is a problem and how watching porn contributes to it. It is an easy read and a good place to start for an introduction to the topic.

By Andrew Ferebee,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Porn Pandemic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WARNING: If You’re Watching Porn Every Day, You’re On a Slow Path To Sabotaging Your Life & Romantic Relationships.

Stop your porn addiction and take back your life and relationships with best selling author and men's coach Andrew Ferebee.

Congrats, on taking an important step toward acknowledging that porn has become a serious problem for you, and being open to solutions.

Now, it’s time to to learn how to stop an addiction to porn

Breaking addictive cycles is not easy, whether it’s booze, drugs or porn, but I’m here to guide you towards your personal freedom.

Why am I the…