Drug use and overdose deaths are on the rise. Right now, 23.5 million Americans are addicted to alcohol and drugs. Yet, only 10% ever receive treatment. Although cutting-edge research has helped us discover effective treatments, the majority of those with addiction problems never get treated at all.

From family members who go down dark roads to dangerous encounters at parties, addiction often impacts us in one way or another. Whether you’re looking to lead the next major study on addiction or better understand a family member in need, we’ve found the 11 best books on addiction.

Best Books On Addiction

The books below will help you understand the science of addiction, break down stigma, and open your mind about drug and alcohol abuse. 

1. Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola

Blackout- Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola

Praised by The New York Times, Blackout tells the story of a woman stumbling into the sober life that she had never wanted. For Sarah Hepola, drinking felt like freedom and enlightened her entire personality. However, she paid a price. Each time she woke up after blacking out, she had to become a detective on what had happened the night before.

Alcohol may have been the fuel she thought she needed, but it was draining her more than anything else. As she enters sobriety, she discovers the person she tried to bury, and figures out that the creativity she thought alcohol brought her had truly been in her all along. 

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2. Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp

 Drinking- A Love Story by Caroline Knapp

Each year, fifteen million Americans are plagued with alcoholism. Five million of those are women. Similar to author Caroline Knapp, many begin consuming alcohol in their teens and see it as a way to protect themselves against the difficulties of life. 

In this candid and revealing memoir, Caroline Knapp highlights the important relationship between alcoholism, the difficulties of life, and how we can cope. Her love affair with alcohol had begun at the age of 14. Although she grew up with an award-winning career and stellar education, she had stumbled through her life drinking herself into oblivion.

This memoir sheds light on the destructive relationships and family myths that go hand in hand with drinking. 

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3. Party Girl: A Novel by Anna David 

Party Girl- A Novel by Anna David

Celebrity journalist Amelia Stone goes to star-studded events, stays out until the early hours of the morning, and has everything that a party girl needs: the looks, the job, the lifestyle. She also has a cocaine addiction.

After losing her job and friends, Amelia Stone wakes up in the hospital after overdosing on a complex cocktail of various drugs. Then and there, she makes the drastic decision to end her drug abuse. 

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4. Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man by Bill Clegg 

Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man by Bill Clegg

This memoir goes through the story of thriving literary agent Bill Clegg who suddenly walked away from his world and embarked on a two month crack binge. He had been released from rehab just nine months earlier, and his relapse would now cost him his home, money, career, and nearly his life.

This memoir shines light on what leads a young man to want to disappear. In this, Clegg explores the shape of addiction and how its pattern can almost always be traced back to the past. This memoir is both honest and beautifully written, one that you cannot look away from. 

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5. Parched by Heather King 

Parched by Heather King

Parched is a captivating memoir that shares the story of one woman’s journey to the bottom of the bottle and back. Her descent into the depths of addiction leads to a long downward spiral. Saved by her family, she realized that although she may have been deeply poetic and sensitive, she was also a mess.

However, she came to learn that suffering often leads to redemption and that personal pain leads to compassion. Above all, a sense of humor can always lighten the mood in times of suffering. This candid memoir captures all of these realizations and more. 

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6. A Million Little Pieces by James Frey 

A Million Little Pieces by James Frey

A Million Little Pieces is a story of drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and rehabilitation like it has never  been told before. In this, James Frey brings the reader face-to-face with the true nature of addiction and the meaning of recovery. By the time he had entered rehab, he had taken his drug addiction to near-deadly extremes.

This book refuses to fit any mold of drug literature, explaining the troubled patients that James Frey encountered and why he refuses to consider himself a victim. Once he chooses to take accountability, he gains insight on new recipes for recovery. 

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7. High on Arrival by Mackenzie Phillips 

High on Arrival by Mackenzie Phillips

Born into a life of fame and royalty, Mackenzie Phillips grew up smoking pot at 11 and finding heroin to be the norm. Her father was John Phillips from The Mamas & the Papas, and as a teenager, Hollywood quickly recognized her charm. Yet, when she stepped into LAX one day, she was being taken out in handcuffs due to possession of cocaine and heroin.

Before this, she took pleasure in the nonstop party and pleasure dome that her father had created for her. Yet, as an adult, she has had to pay dearly for this lifetime of excess and the power of addiction. 

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8. How to Murder Your Life by Cat Marnell

How to Murder Your Life by Cat Marnell

Written by New York Times best-selling author Cat Marnell, How to Murder Your Life is a funny and chaotic memoir of prescription drug addiction and self-sabotage. Set in the glamorous world of downtown clubs and fashion magazines, 26-year-old Cat Marnell hid a secret life of drug addiction.

From manipulating her psychiatrists for extra pills to spending hundreds of dollars each week on binge foods, Cat Marnell has been through it all. This tale of self-loathing and self-sabotage illustrates Marnell’s fight between ambition and addiction. 

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9. Spirit Junkie by Gabrielle Bernstein 

Spirit Junkie by Gabrielle Bernstein

Spirit Junkie tells the story of how Gabrielle Berstein’s dangerous path led her on the radical road to self-love and miracles. For years, Bernstein had struggled with eating disorders, drug abuse, and a detrimental addiction to alcohol. Yet, she began to discover that much of what she feared in life was either not frightening or not real.

Now, Bernstein lives a life of joy and empowerment. In this inspiring memoir, she guides readers through the life-changing lessons that had shaped her spiritual journey. By understanding your own mistakes and changing your perception, the need to alter reality will vanish. 

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10. High Price by Carl Hart 

High Price by Carl Hart

High Price is a neuroscientists’ journey to self discovery that challenges everything you know about drugs and society. This inspiring memoir goes into the life of Carl Hart, who grew up in one of Miami’s toughest neighborhoods and determined to make a difference through revolutionary scientific research.

According to Carl Hart, controversial research is redefining our understanding of addiction. In this eye-opening memoir, Hart explains how he escaped a life of crime and how he avoided becoming one of the crack addicts that he now studies.

Being a renowned cutting-edge neuroscientist and Columbia’s first tenured African American professor in the sciences, nobody is more qualified to shed light on the realities of addiction than Carl Hart. 

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11. Beautiful Boy by David Sheff 

Beautiful Boy by David Sheff

Beautiful Boy tells the story of a father’s journey through his son’s addiction. This #1 New York Times best-seller and now motion picture is brilliant, fascinating, and heartbreaking. David Sheff’s journey through his son’s addiction leads him to question what he did wrong as a father and what happened to his beautiful family.

In this, Sheff traces the first warning signs and illustrates how his obsession with his son’s well-being became an addiction in itself.

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Final Thoughts: Books On Addiction

The books above are written by either those who have gone through substance abuse themselves or those who have done the years of scientific research. These literary works will help you understand what leads to addiction, how to help out those who are struggling, and where you can find helpful recovery tools. 

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