Drug addiction and alcoholism affect millions of people across the world.
While professional clinics, mutual help groups, and other support mechanisms are key in promoting recovery, quality addiction and recovery books have much to offer.
Recovery, of course, is a very personal journey which is different for each and every person.
This is why there is no single book which can be recommended to every person who is struggling with addiction or dependency.
Just as there are many different sobriety programs, clinics, and group, there are many different books which can be used to supplement and inform the process of recovery.
The following 26 books are some of the most useful that are on the market right now.
They are diverse in their styles, offer insights from every walk of life; from the medical to the personal to the spiritual.
These books and their authors offer unique insight into what recovery means to people from different walks of life and different fields of educational backgrounds, religious or spiritual beliefs, and professional areas of expertise.
The 26 Best Addiction and Recovery Books of 2019
Each of these books has a different focus, unique advice, and a compelling story behind it.
Not all are memoirs, but all have been written by someone with firsthand experience of the struggles and challenges that those seeking to reclaim control and sobriety face.
Chasing a Flawed Sun
At once merciless and uplifting, Chasing a Flawed Sun is a true story of one of Daniel McGhee’s struggle with one of the most addictive substances in the world; heroin.
In this traditional, narrative-based memoir McGhee takes us through his childhood in Baltimore, and his journey through institutions, prisons, and the very depths of addiction.
Hailed as an intense, and often brutal, ‘autopsy’ of the addicted mind, this is also an account of how he lost, and then found himself.
Now 18 years sober, Daniel McGhee still lives just outside of Baltimore, MD, and runs several businesses in the area, as well as a non-profit which works with children, the homeless, and those fighting addiction.
He has found not only wellness but peace and joy and published this book to help others find the same.
Chasing the High: An Entrepreneurs Mindset Through Addiction
As many recovering alcoholics know, it’s easy to become entrapped by a substitute dependency, what Michael Dash shows in his gripping and insightful Chasing the High is that we can become addicted to success, work, and ambition just as easily as heroin, cocaine, gambling, or alcohol.
Dash realised that his pursuit of big wins in the casino and office, as well as his relentless partying, were all motivated by the same thing; the euphoria of success.
In this thoughtful and straightforward piece, he illuminates a side of addiction which is less known; the situation where we are not addicted to a particular substance or activity, but to the feeling of fulfilment.
Once he realised this, Dash was able to calm his inner chaos, reboot his life, and create a routine that helped him to sustain recovery.
This book is his way of sharing this routine with others struggling with the same issues.
Comfortably Insane: A Journey From the Hell of Alcoholism to a Healthy and Productive Life
Unflinching, but humorous at times, Comfortably Insane is the story of how Neal Linares, after an unsettled childhood shuttling between the USA and El Salvador, fell into the bottle and stayed there for decades.
He reports how he drank himself out of military school, relationships, and his sanity before achieving 8 years of sobriety and a happy second marriage through the power of will alone.
However, sanity proved uncomfortable and he fell back into comfortable insanity until a run-in with local police shook him awake and he began the long road to sanity and wellness one day at a time.
Linares offers more than just a memoir; this is a manual for anyone seeking to recognize and neutralize their own flaws.
Don’t Stop Dancing: My Story of Tragedy, Loss, Addiction, and Darkness
Eric Anderson’s story is in many ways unique and all too common.
At the age of 21, he was a promising athlete and an exuberant social butterfly with many loved ones, good looks, and a promising future.
When a lapse in judgement and a terrible accident placed him in a wheelchair, Anderson thought that all of that had been taken from him.
It took years, a lengthy struggle with addiction, and the decision to take his own life for him to realize that it was only his physical capabilities which had changed.
Don’t Stop Dancing is less of a manual and more of a discussion. Inspired by his own internal processes and realisations, Anderson acts not as a guide, but a friend.
Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America
A gripping example of how investigative journalism and personal stories can intertwine to stunning results.
Macey’s investigation begins with the story of a single dealer who lands in small-town Virginia and proceeds to turn local high school football stars into heroin overdose statistics.
An instant New York Times bestseller, Dopesick covers everything from the rise of OxyContin in 1996 to families affected today.
Macey is unflinching and thorough in her examinations of courtroom policies, medical responses, familial crises, and the social ties which bind small towns in particular to addiction.
By focussing on human stories, Macey makes what could have been a journalistic report into an indelibly human product.
Fentanyl, Inc: How Rogue Chemists Are Creating the Deadliest Wave of The Opioid Epidemic
Fentanyl, Inc is the truly remarkable result of a 4-year investigation into the synthetic drug trade and its place in the most recent wave of the opioid epidemic.
From the factories in China (and across Asia) which produce synthetic drugs to the dealers and users on the streets of Europe and the USA, this is the first, deep investigation of this illicit trade to be published.
While most people have now heard of drugs such as spice, few people know that they were first created in legitimate laboratories before being hijacked by rogue chemists who changed the molecular structure in order to turn the law upside down.
This brave and inquiring book represents the shocking truth about a calamity that we have only begun to understand.
From Chains to Saved: One Man’s Journey Through the Spiritual Realm of Addiction
A series of short stories which show the meeting point between addiction and spirituality, From Chains to Saved is being hailed as a text that will change your outlook on spirituality, give an insight into the mind of addiction (for those not personally struggling), and provide hope to those still fighting it.
With this spiritual, searching, often funny, book Adam Vibe Gunton takes you on a journey from Columbine to spiritual encounters and political photo opportunities and provides, without preaching, startling insights.
Gunton isn’t offering a method or a pathway to recovery, simply the fact that it can be done; sobriety can be achieved, and the pathway isn’t the same for everyone. What Gunton offers is hope and the knowledge that you’re not alone.
Fuck This Shit – A Journey of Serenity, Gratitude, and Sobriety
Irreverent, brutally honest, and anything but traditional, Fuck this Shit takes the soothing, gentle voice that those in the recovery scene use as a whole and throws it out of the window.
Neither long nor heavy, this compact 110-page journal is designed to help you deal with the reality of life as someone who deals with addiction or knows someone affected by addiction.
This notebook acts as a guide for those seeking to start their journey to sobriety and wellness. This is not someone else’s story; it’s yours.
This notebook will make you cry, it may even make you laugh, but above and beyond all else it will make you think about your life and your path to recovery.
High Achiever: The Incredible True Story of One Addict’s Double Life
Tiffany Jenkins is a born storyteller; High Achiever is gripping, heart-wrenching, and raw, but most shocking of all it is entirely true.
Jenkins gives a brutal insight into the opioid crisis in America, and she refuses to turn away from any detail, even those that reflect poorly on her.
She tells her journey from high school cheerleader to the 120 days she spent withdrawing and recovering in a Florida Jail.
Offering no system, no lecture, and no preaching, Jenkins gives hope, and above all else the raw and shocking truth.
Definitely a recommended read!
Highlight Real: Finding Honesty & Recovery Beyond the Filtered Life
It is the way of addiction and recovery stories to talk about the abyssal lows that drugs and alcohol can take us to; they often deal with horrors most of us cannot imagine with unflinching honesty.
What makes Highlight Real so unique and powerful is that it focusses on an underrepresented facet of addiction; those who appear to have it all, but are suffering on the inside.
In fact, this is a classic for the modern age as Paulson engages with the way in which social media has enabled us to filter our lives as well as our faces.
Taking is through her own journey of denial, trauma, addiction, and loss, Paulson shows how we can filter our lives so heavily that the red flags are hidden even from ourselves.
Searing, honest, and utterly heartbreaking, Highlight Real lifts the veil from a successful and beautiful life to show that all is not always as it seems.
I Love you More: Short Stories of Addiction, Recovery, and Loss From the Family’s Perspective
As a recovering alcoholic, certified addictions professional, and a bachelor of psychology, Blake Cohen is uniquely placed to offer help and insight to the families of those struggling with alcoholism and drug addiction.
Not only is I Love You More honest, insightful, and genuinely helpful, it is unique in that these three short stories (each with a different ending) are not aimed at those fighting addiction, but at the people who support and love them.
Cohen recognized the distinct lack of support for the families and has gone some small way into filling this gap with a book that cannot be ignored.
In Pillness and in Health: A Memoir
There are few books which look at pharmaceutical addictions, and the pain they cause, with such straightforward, unyielding bravery.
To call In Pillness and in Health a rollercoaster does it no justice; it is a hurricane that strips every moment of Henriette and Kevin Ivanans marriage away to reveal the truth behind it all.
From the first encounter with pills to overdose and her husband talking the ER out of a psychiatric hold, and all the way onto his giving her a kidney that later rejected, this is a blistering look at codependency.
Ivanans spares us, and herself, no detail of the cruel hold that pills can have, right down to the moment she popped pills with a beer the day after her husband’s kidney was transplanted into her body.
Not for the faint of heart, but important nonetheless, Ivanans book cannot be ignored.
Mother Load: A Memoir of Addiction, Gun Violence & Finding a Life of Purpose
Told with startling clarity and eloquence, Mother Load is a book that defies explanation.
The story of how a suburban mother, Wendy Adamson, fell from grace into a rabbit hole of methamphetamine and gun violence before one selfless act spurred her to make a change.
Now on the other side of her ordeal, Adamson knows that motherhood is the ultimate gift, and to live is a privilege not to be taken lightly.
With a kind, motherly tone she leads us through her struggles and gives us her own gift; hope for the future.
Addiction can be fought, battles can be won, and a return to a life which does not revolve purely around recovery is possible.
My 13th Station: A Mother Shares Her Son’s Tragic Battle With Depression
During a spate of supernatural experiences which led to 3 suicides on their street, the Anthony family were fighting their own, very natural battle.
A sudden bout of depression sent her son spiralling into alcoholism, and what would follow was both harrowing and exhausting.
In her own way, Anthony walks us through the grim reality of dual diagnosis (mental illness and addiction), and the less widely accepted ground of spiritual warfare.
Profound and sorrowful, My 13th Station nonetheless gives hope for renewal and revival.
Definitely one to read in 2020!
Overcome: A Memoir of Abuse, Addiction, Sex Work, and Recovery
Amber van de Bunt writes with the same fearless and wild abandon with which she lived her young life. Struggling with depression and eating disorders at a young age, she knew she was not like the other girls around her.
What followed were years as a topless dancer in Florida, abortion, a suicide attempt, and a step into a new life as a pornstar (called Karmen Karma).
In the years since, van de Bunt has overcome her relationship with her abusive mother, found sobriety, and begun to live in a way that is good for her.
Nonetheless, her vibrant, witty personality shines through and makes what could have been a harrowing tale hopeful, humorous, and inspiring.
Recovery Dharma: How to Use Buddhist Practices and Principles to Heal the Suffering of Addiction
Marketed as a viable alternative to traditionally Christian 12-step programs, this unique, Buddhist approach to recovery is insightful, gentle, and intimately humane.
Offering not only hope but genuine insight into how addictions of any kind affect us spiritually, Recovery Dharma offers a new way to those who have found no solace in traditional sobriety programs.
As a peer-led program which focusses on community as a way to support a highly individual process, this is not a totally unique approach.
Nonetheless, thousands of people can attest to the potency of the teachings held within this short book.
Saving Jake: When Addiction Hits Home
The road to the bottom is often described as long, winding, and rough; many alcoholics and addicts report that they didn’t truly realise how far they had fallen until it was too late.
In this way, at least, Jake Burwell’s story is all too familiar.
However, his drop from college student and promising athlete was sudden and gutwrenching.
Told by his mother, D’Anne Burwell, Saving Jake is just one true story which illustrates the link between prescription drug abuse and the rising rates of heroin abuse amongst the youth of America.
A raw and real story of how one mother rallied her family and saved her son, this story isn’t really about addiction; it’s about finding love and redemption at our lowest ebb.
The links between mental illness and drug abuse are commonly recognised, but rarely understood; Marcie Jones opens the door to this frightening and often taboo experience with a piercing, sorrowful honesty that cuts to the heart of the matter.
When receiving the news that her son, Hunter, had suffered a psychotic break that resulted in his being institutionalised, Jones knew that her life, and her families lives, would never be the same.
Despite a relatively quick recovery and promising signs for the future, Hunter continued to have psychotic breaks after release (one which nearly ended in his death).
This is the story of a precarious balancing act and the love of a family who just would not give up on their son, brother, and friend.
Son Down, Son Up: How One Mother Battled Her Son’s Addiction, Found Hope, and Survived
A narrative cum instruction manual for the families of those struggling with addiction, Son Down, Son Up has been written with humility, care, and tenderness by a family who knows what it is to fight drug abuse,
Written primarily by Brenda Seals, this book shares red flags to watch for, coping methods, recovery tips, and input from Matthew (her son), her husband, daughters, and daughter-in-law.
This makes it a surprisingly comprehensive look at how addiction affects a family as a whole.
A story of personal grief, codependency, and addiction, this book is also a powerful message of hope for anyone in a similar situation.
Sonic Recovery: Harness the Power of Music to Stay Sober
As a board-certified music therapist, Tim Ringgold is a firm believer in the power of music and it’s potential to help those struggling with addiction, grief, and trauma.
By combining his personal experience with professional expertise, he has created something truly unique.
Sonic Recovery is a clever and entertaining mix of music, neuroscience, psychology, and current research that neither dumbs down the facts nor swamps you with professional jargon.
Quick, witty, and to the point, Ringgold offers actionable tips and hints for those seeking to use the transformative power of music in their own lives.
There are many alternative recovery programs and theories out there, of course, but Sonic Recovery only presents what can be corroborated, and this makes it a powerful tool
The Addictoholic Deconstructed: An Irreverently Quick and Dirty Education By a Doctor Who Says Fuck A Lot
The unique and humorous take on addiction and recover provided by doctor and recovering addict Nicole Labor is something that no-one fighting addiction should miss.
With an easy to read mix of easily digestible science, simply explained biological processes, and a deeply human understanding of what it means to become addicted to a substance, The Addictoholic Deconstructed is an instant classic that takes a fundamentally dark human experience and pierces the veil with light and laughter.
Whether you’re seeking sobriety, or you don’t know how to support your loved one, this book is a great place to start.
The Change Agent: How a Former College QB Sentenced to Life in Prison Transformed His World
From the bestselling co-author of The Coffee Bean comes an honest, unwavering, and heartfelt account of how addiction takes root even in those who seem to have it all!
Damon West seemed had it all, a stable childhood, a promising future, and a place of prominence as a College Quarterback, but when an addiction to methamphetamine took hold his life began to crumble.
What most people in his life didn’t know was that west had been sexually abused by his babysitter aged 9, and as a result, turned to narcotics to dampen the pain.
After finding himself with a life sentence in a Texan prison, he knew he needed to change.
A discussion with an older inmate changed everything; West had a spiritual awakening; he found God, recovery, and hope, and was released from prison after 7 years.
This is his true story.
The Heart of Recovery: Real People. Real Loves. Real Success Stories
A series of open and honest interviews with people who have battled addiction and entered into periods of recovery.
In The Heart of Recovery Bopst speaks with people of all ages, from all backgrounds, in every stage of recovery.
The interviews are short, searching, and often heartfelt; they go to the core of what it means to seek recovery, forgiveness, and a new way of living in a world so riddled with temptation.
The interviewees themselves range from fitness experts and recovery advocates to celebrities and experts; they each offer advice, tips, and tricks from their own lives in the hope they will help someone else.
The Will of Heaven: An Inspiring True Story About Elephants, Alcoholism, and Hope
A childhood connection to elephants spurred and sustained Debbie Ethell through her teens until depression and a brush with suicidal thoughts pushed her into alcohol dependency.
Unlike many addiction and recovery books, The Will of Heaven focusses not on the pain and suffering but takes a philosophical bent that follows Ethell all the way from the high school bullies who broke her down to the moment she lived out her lifelong dream of working to conserve African elephants.
As a conservation research scientist, Ethell does important work; this book, however, is on par with all of her other work and is a must-read for those who want to find hope and inspiration that goes beyond sobriety and into the wider world.
From the Brink of the Drink: A Personal Story of Tribulations and Triumphs of Alcoholism
Few books on the subject of alcoholism are quite so horrifying as From the Brink of the Drink; alcoholism is a predominantly male affliction, and so Karla Juvonens story is shocking and heartbreaking, Turning to drink at just 12, Juvonen used alcohol to cope with insecurities, pressures, and her uncontrollable fears.
Despite this, she led a successful life until her dependency spiralled out of control and she lost it all; her family, her job, her home, her health, and nearly her life.
Harrowing and heartwrenching, From the Brink of Drink, nonetheless has a hopeful message for other young women (and men) fighting drink, drugs, and their own fear.
Confessions of the Broken: A Codependent Rock Chick’s Journey from Hopelessness to Healing
The ties between music, alcoholism, and drug addiction are subtle and yet pervasive; the mix of spirituality, music, and yearning that infuses Heidi Le’s multi-media ebook is unique and enthralling.
Le encourages those struggling with addiction (and life in general) to look around them, and then at themselves with piercing and unflinching eyes; she found that the common denominator in her own struggles was her.
By facing her own codependent tendencies and embracing God, Le found a path to recovery and sobriety that suited her free spirit, and she has boiled all she learned into this book.
The result is an honest, but uplifting story, supplemented by her songs, which reaches into the heart of codependency and addiction.