10 Best Books About Addiction
Well, it’s taken me a lot of reading to be able to bring you this post, but finally I’ve brought you some of the best books about addiction that I could find.
There are TONS of books about addiction, ranging from clinical to personal, and this list represents something in the middle. There are some memoirs, which are always fascinating to me, but my actual favorites are the ones written by journalists who take a deep dive into the issue of addiction in our country and mix it with personal accounts of those who have been most affected. The first four on this list are my absolute favorite, and the ones that follow are in no particular order.
Given that there are so many on the subject, I’m sure I’ve missed some. I’d love to know some of your best books about addiction, so please leave them in the comments. Happy reading. 🙂
Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones
I first read this book three years ago and it still stands out as one of the best books I’ve read about the opiate epidemic (along with the next title). Quinones is a journalist and I find that my favorite books on this subject are written by those who present journalistic facts combined with personal interviews and anecdotes by people affected by addiction. I HIGHLY recommend it.
Another book written by a journalist, Dopesick examines the life of the opiate epidemic and how it became such a tremendous problem. She starts with its introduction and then to the most current legal issues as of its publication. Like Dreamland, she mixes in personal stories of devastation in small towns and just how much of an impact big pharma’s overprescribing campaign had.
The Night of the Gun by David Carr
Another journalist author, but this time the story is his own. He seeks to report on his own past with drug addiction by examining his own memories during that time. It’s extremely well written and I was blown away by his vocabulary (I love language). His story of how he tried to maintain his career and family while dealing with a serious crack addiction is mesmerizing.
Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp
I forgot that Knapp was also a writer until I went to write this post. She chronicles her 20 year addiction to alcohol, beginning with her first drink at age 14. It’s a great look at how addicts lead double lives and the extent to which we go to keep them separate.
Permanent Midnight: A Memoir by Jerry Stahl
Stahl is a screenwriter who shares his personal journey with heroin addiction in this memoir. Unlike the previous books, it’s an intense look at addiction in the Hollywood scene and how fame can easily bring more destruction. The writing style is not my favorite, but the content is good and an honest look into addiction.
Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man: A Memoir by Bill Clegg
Another memoir by someone in the literary world, Clegg was a literary agent managing a growing list of different writers. His story is how he simply walked away from it all to embark on a two month crack binge and how quickly you can lose everything you hold dear.
Although I typically do this the other way around, I found myself watching the movie before reading this book and it’s what started me on a months-long addiction memoir binge. Sheff, another journalist, details the story of watching his son struggle with methamphetamine addiction. I hadn’t before read or watched something from this point of view and as a recovering addict myself, it helped me conceptualize the harm that I did to those who cared about me.
Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines by Nic Sheff
Nic Sheff is the son of David Sheff and the subject of Beautiful Boy. This is his own account of his struggle with addiction and it was important for me to read both accounts to get a good picture of the dynamic. It’s not as well written as Beautiful Boy, but I think it’s important to hear the story in his own words.
Dry: A Memoir by Augusten Burroughs
A look into Burroughs’ alcoholism as it escalates to the point of his employers insisting that he get help. He completes 30 days of rehab, but then realizes that he needs to return to Manhattan and the same life he left behind. Both of his books on this list are great.
Running With Scissors: A Memoir by Augusten Burroughs
Another memoir by Burroughs examines his tumultuous childhood and helps give some background as to his behaviors as an adult. Although objectively sad to read, he is able to tell it with some degree of lightheartedness that makes it bearable. A story of abandonment, alcoholism, and abuse, this is another great memoir by Burroughs.