Books about addiction include heartbreaking moments of struggle and dependency. Yet they’re also accounts of resiliency and renewal, introducing you to brave men and women who found the strength to save themselves when all hope seemed lost. Here are 11 new narratives of addiction and recovery that we recommend you read.
11 Powerful Books About Addiction and Recovery
These stirring memoirs chronicle the pain of dependency and the strength to persevere
By Jessica Dukes
Finding Freedom: A Cook’s Story Remaking Life from Scratch
By Erin French
Growing up on her family’s 25-acre farm in Maine, Erin French developed a lifelong passion for cooking and food. She worked as a line cook in her family’s diner and eventually became a professional chef herself, opening the world-renowned restaurant The Lost Kitchen. However, her path to freedom was by no means easy. Along the way, single motherhood, a broken marriage, and an addiction to prescription pills presented obstacles that French wasn’t sure she could overcome. But she prevailed, thanks to the lessons first learned on the farm and the love and support of her community. Finding Freedom, French’s remarkable new memoir, chronicles her inspiring journey.
By Mikel Jollett
Mikel Jollett, front man for the band The Airborne Toxic Event, has endured more than most of us can imagine. As a child, he and his family were members of the Church of Synanon, an abusive cult that separated children from their parents. After years of isolation, his mother finally decides to escape with Mikel and his brother. Yet freedom from the cult ushers in new hardships. Poverty and unaddressed mental health issues consume the family, and drug and alcohol abuse soon take hold. Yet Jollett fights back to reclaim his life, breaking free from the struggles of his childhood to enroll in Stanford University and eventually find his voice as an artist and a performer. Hollywood Park, a New York Times bestseller, is Jollett’s raw and profound memoir.
High Achiever: The Incredible True Story of One Addict’s Double Life
By Tiffany Jenkins
In high school, Tiffany Jenkins was a popular student and the captain of the school’s cheerleading squad. After graduation, she begins dating the town’s deputy sheriff. But opioid addiction soon takes over her life, transforming her into a person she barely recognizes. At her lowest point, Jenkins finds herself being arrested by officers who are also her friends. Her four months in jail serve as the starting point to her eventual recovery. High Achiever is a mind-spinning memoir of how quickly things go wrong and how much hard work it takes to set things right.
Quit Like a Woman: The Radical Choice to Not Drink in a Culture Obsessed with Alcohol
By Holly Whitaker
Our culture puts alcohol at the center of most social activities. Indeed, to decline a drink often raises eyebrows. As Holly Whitaker realizes, saying no takes a lot of courage. She decides to get sober and conquer her own addiction, but is put off by the patriarchal and religious systems of recovery available to her. Undeterred, Whitaker carves out her own path to sobriety, one rooted in feminism and being honest with herself.
It Was Me All Along
By Andie Mitchell
Drugs and alcohol aren’t essential to life, but we need food to survive. This is what makes food addiction such a difficult thing to understand and overcome. Andie Mitchell’s incredible memoir chronicles her life as a food blogger, her body image battles, and the many ways she depended on food for comfort throughout her painful childhood. At age 20, weighing nearly 300 pounds, Mitchell makes the decision to save her own life. It Was Me All Along is the brutally honest story of how Mitchell lost half her body weight without sacrificing the satisfaction of a good meal.
As Needed for Pain
By Dan Peres
The life of a high-powered New York City magazine editor is undeniably stressful. Add to that the danger of addiction, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. For years, Dan Peres juggled a deadline-driven career while in the throes of addiction. Teetering on the brink, Peres realizes he must let go of his frenetic lifestyle to reclaim his life and kick his (at its peak) 60-pill-a-day habit.
Getting Off: One Woman’s Journey Through Sex and Porn Addiction
By Erica Garza
Erica Garza’s addiction to sex and pornography leads her down a dangerous path. Grappling with low self-esteem, self-loathing, and loneliness, Garza seeks out a reprieve from her suffering in brothels, hookups, and the inevitable blackouts. Like many addictions, Garza’s will get worse before she seeks help and finally comes to terms with her obsessions.
Good Morning, Destroyer of Men’s Souls: A Memoir of Women, Addiction, and Love
By Nina Renata Aron
Nina Renata Aron’s relationship with her boyfriend is a passionate fairy tale, right up to the day he relapses. From that moment, his addiction consumes both of their lives. Aron is convinced that if she loves him hard enough, he’ll recover. Of course, this doesn’t happen. Whether the man she loves recovers or not, Aron is forced into a reckoning of her own — that she is an enabler in a codependent relationship.
By Jowita Bydlowska
Jowita Bydlowska is three years into her sobriety when she becomes a mother. What was supposed to be a joyous moment triggers a relapse when, on a whim, she has a glass of champagne to celebrate the birth of her first child. In no time, she slips back into addiction. Bydlowska’s memoir is an eye-opening account of her relapse, the many ways she justifies her “mommy needs wine” moments, and her eventual second recovery.
My Fair Junkie: A Memoir of Getting Dirty and Staying Clean
By Amy Dresner
Twenty years of drug and alcohol addiction leads Amy Dresner to one of two fates: death or institutionalization. Fortunately, the latter happens. Her rock bottom brings her to a psych ward in Hollywood followed by two years of community service. As Dresner cleans up Hollywood Boulevard with a crew of fellow recovering addicts, she finds a way to start over in her 40s and live on her own terms.
Reborn on the Run: My Journey from Addiction to Ultramarathons
By Catra Corbett
Catra Corbett knows how to run long distances. She was the first person to run 200 miles through the Ohlone Wilderness in California, and she ran all 425 miles of the John Muir Trail in just over 12 days, a record time. Before all of that, though, it was a local race that saved Corbett’s life. Strung out on meth, with an arrest record hanging over her head and nowhere to go, Corbett set out on a 10K with a friend. Running soon transformed itself from a healthy distraction to the vehicle she needed to leave addiction, enablers, and depression behind. Once she started, she became unstoppable: Today she’s a world-class ultrarunner.