Books about Addiction and Recovery

Here is a list of books (and some movies) on the subjects of drug and/or alcohol addiction and recovery. These items are available in the STLS system. Click on the title to place an item on hold at your library.
Author: Gammill, Joani, 1957-

Recovery from prescription painkiller or heroin addiction can feel impossible, especially considering that those who have gone through typical twenty-eight-day treatment programs often experience relapses and sometimes even fatal overdoses. But there is hope.
In Painkillers, Heroin, and the Road to Sanity, recovering addict and prominent interventionist Joani Gammill offers a radically effective approach for those struggling with opiate addiction, sharing sometimes controversial tips that have worked for others who are in long-term recovery.


Author: Mitchell, Tracey Helton, author.

After surviving nearly a decade of heroin abuse and hard living on the streets of San Francisco’s Tenderloin District, Tracey Helton Mitchell decided to get clean for good. With raw honesty and a poignant perspective on life that only comes from starting at rock bottom, The Big Fix tells her story of transformation from homeless heroin addict to stable mother of three-and the hard work and hard lessons that got her there. Rather than dwelling on the pain of addiction, Tracey focuses on her journey of recovery and rebuilding her life, while exposing the failings of the American rehab system and laying out a path for change.  A decidedly female story of addiction, The Big Fix describes the unique challenges faced by women caught in the grip of substance abuse, such as the toxic connection between drug addition and prostitution. Tracey’s story of hope, hard work, and rehabilitation will inspire anyone who has been affected by substance abuse while offering hope for a better future.



Author: Sixx, Nikki, 1958
In one of the most unique memoirs of addiction ever published, Motley Crue’s Nikki Sixx shares mesmerizing diary entries from the year he spiraled out of control in a haze of heroin and cocaine, presented alongside riveting commentary from people who were there at the time, and from Nikki himself. When Motley Crue was at the height of its fame, there wasn’t any drug Nikki Sixx wouldn’t do. He spent days – sometimes alone, sometimes with other addicts, friends, and lovers – in a coke and heroin-fueled daze. The highs were high, and Nikki’s journal entries reveal some euphoria and joy. But the lows were lower, often ending with Nikki in his closet, surrounded by drug paraphernalia and wrapped in paranoid delusions. Here, Nikki shares those diary entries – some poetic, some scatterbrained, some bizarre – and reflects on that time. Joining him are Tommy Lee, Vince Neil, Mick Mars, Slash, Rick Nielsen, Bob Rock, and a host of ex-managers, ex-lovers, and more. Brutally honest, utterly riveting, and shockingly moving, The Heroin Diaries follows Nikki during the year he plunged to rock bottom – and his courageous decision to pick himself up and start living again.”
Author: Canfield, Oran.
Oran Canfield–son of self-help guru and Chicken Soup for the Soul creator Jack Canfield–tells his surreal story of growing up in Long Past Stopping. In this remarkable memoir, writing with a wry and cutting edge, Canfield relates tales of a childhood in flux–being buffeted about among family friends, relatives, rebels, and born-again circus clowns, in an anarchist private school, communes, and libertarian enclaves–and of a young adulthood spent among the ruins of heroin addiction. Long Past Stopping is Oran Canfield’s often hilariously harrowing tale of surviving life in the strange lane.

Cover image for I'm just happy to be here : a memoir of renegade mothering
Author: Hanchett, Janelle author.
“This is a story we rarely hear — of the addict mother not redeemed by her children; who longs for normalcy but cannot maintain it; and who, having traveled to the bottom of addiction, all the way to ‘society’s hated mother,’ makes it back, only to discover she will always remain on the fringe.
Cover image for Portrait of an addict as a young man : a memoir
Author: Clegg, Bill.
The author chronicles the dark secret life he led when, despite building for himself a respectable career as a literary agent, he embraced crack cocaine; went on a two-month binge; and lost his job, his home, and all his money.
Cover image for Beautiful boy : a father's journey through his son's addiction
Author: Sheff, David.
What had happened to my beautiful boy? To our family? What did I do wrong? Those are the wrenching questions that haunted David Sheff’s journey through his son Nic’s addiction to drugs and tentative steps toward recovery. Before Nic became addicted to crystal meth, he was a charming boy, joyous and funny, a varsity athlete and honor student adored by his two younger siblings. After meth, he was a trembling wraith who lied, stole, and lived on the streets. David Sheff traces the first warning signs: the denial, the three a.m. phone calls–is it Nic? the police? the hospital? His preoccupation with Nic became an addiction in itself. But as a journalist, he instinctively researched every treatment that might save his son. And he refused to give up on Nic.
Cover image for We all fall down : living with addiction
Author: Sheff, Nic.

Along with We All Fall Down, Nic Sheff’s Tweak and his father’s memoir about him Beautiful Boy , are the basis of the upcoming film Beautiful Boy , starring Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet.
In his bestselling memoir Tweak , Nic Sheff took readers on an emotionally gripping roller-coaster ride through his days as an addict. Now in this powerful follow-up about his continued efforts to stay clean, Nic writes candidly about eye-opening stays at rehab centers, devastating relapses, and hard-won realizations about what it means to be a young person living with addiction. By candidly revealing his own failures and small personal triumphs, Nic inspires readers to maintain hope and to remember that they are not alone in their battles.

Cover image for Dry


Author: Burroughs, Augusten.

From the New York Times Bestselling author of Running With Scissors comes the story of one man trying to out-drink his memories, outlast his demons, and outrun his past. You may not know it, but you’ve met Augusten Burroughs. You’ve seen him on the street, in bars, on the subway, at restaurants: a twentysomething guy, nice suit, works in advertising. Regular. Ordinary. But when the ordinary person had two drinks, Augusten was circling the drain by having twelve; when the ordinary person went home at midnight, Augusten never went home at all. Loud, distracting ties, automated wake-up calls and cologne on the tongue could only hide so much for so long. At the request (well, it wasn’t really a request) of his employers, Augusten lands in rehab, where his dreams of group therapy with Robert Downey Jr. are immediately dashed by grim reality of fluorescent lighting and paper hospital slippers. But when Augusten is forced to examine himself, something actually starts to click and that’s when he finds himself in the worst trouble of all. Because when his thirty days are up, he has to return to his same drunken Manhattan life–and live it sober. What follows is a memoir that’s as moving as it is funny, as heartbreaking as it is true. Dry is the story of love, loss, and Starbucks as a Higher Power.

Cover image for The hurt artist : my journey from suicidal junkie to ironman
Author: Niemeyer, Shane, 1975-
“With troubles beginning as early as childhood, the trajectory of Shane Niemeyer’s life seemed to have only one direction: down. His struggles with heroin addiction led him to jail, and he eventually hit rock bottom. Soon, his two pack a day cigarette habit was the healthiest thing he did. One dark night in jail, his suicide attempt failed. What happened next transcends the term recovery. The Hurt Artist is the searing yet luminous travelogue of Shane’s powerful journey from suicidal addict to Ironman. He vividly depicts the landscape of pain in which he’s lived his life–emotional and physical pain inflicted upon him and that he inflicts upon himself, pain that pulls him down, and, in detailing his training, the pain he harnesses to lift himself up. Ultimately, Shane’s story is one of redemption and triumph, a lesson in the value of second chances and a clear reminder that nobody, regardless of how seemingly desperate their circumstances, is beyond the reach of salvation. From inmate to Ironman Triathlon World Championship competitor; Shane paints a stirring self-portrait in this hilarious, horrifying, and hopeful account that is sure to hook readers of edgy sports biographies”
Cover image for Crash and burn
Author: Lange, Artie, 1967-
In this follow-up to his memoir Too fat to fish, the comedian and radio personality focuses on his drug addiction and life-threatening depression.
Lange focuses on his drug addiction and life-threatening depression with an unflinching eye and his signature wit. A veteran comedian and radio personality, Lange was addicted to heroin and prescription drugs. He details his very public meltdown, and explains how he turned his life and career around.
Cover image for If you love me : a mother's journey through her daughter's opioid addiction
Author: Cavanagh, Maureen, author.

Fast-paced and heartwarming, devastating and redemptive, Maureen’s incredible odyssey into the opioid crisis–first as a parent, then as an advocate–is ultimately a deeply moving mother-daughter story. When Maureen and her ex-husband Mike see their daughter Katie’s needle track marks for the first time, it is a complete shock. But, slowly, the drug use explains everything–Katie’s constant exhaustion, erratic moods, and all those spoons that have gone missing from the house. Once Mike and Maureen get Katie into detox, Maureen goes to sleep that night hoping that in 48 hours she’ll have her daughter back. It’s not that simple.

Like the millions of parents and relatives all over the country–some of whom she has helped through her nonprofit organization–Maureen learns that recovery is neither straightforward nor brief. She fights to save Katie’s life, breaking down doors on the seedy side of town with Mike, kidnapping Katie outside a convenience store, and battling the taboo around substance use disorder in her picturesque New England town. Maureen is launched into the shadowy world of overcrowded, for-profit rehabilitation centers that often prey on worried parents. As Katie runs away from one program after another, never outrunning her pain, Maureen realizes that even while she becomes an expert on getting countless men and women into detox and treatment centers, she remains powerless to save her own daughter. Maureen’s unforgettable story brings the opioid crisis out of the shadows and into the house next door.

Cover image for Stuart : a life backwards
Author: Masters, Alexander.
In this extraordinary book, Alexander Masters has created a moving portrait of a troubled man, an unlikely friendship, and a desperate world few ever see. A gripping who-done-it journey back in time, it begins with Masters meeting a drunken Stuart lying on a sidewalk in Cambridge, England, and leads through layers of hell…back through crimes and misdemeanors, prison and homelessness, suicide attempts, violence, drugs, juvenile halls and special schools–to expose the smiling, gregarious thirteen-year-old boy who was Stuart before his long, sprawling, dangerous fall. Shocking, inspiring, and hilarious by turns,Stuart: A Life Backwards is a writer’s quest to give voice to a man who, beneath his forbidding exterior, has a message for us all: that every life–even the most chaotic and disreputable–is a story worthy of being told.
Cover image for Recovery : freedom from our addictions
Author: Brand, Russell, 1975- author
A guide to all kinds of addiction from a star who has struggled with heroin, alcohol, sex, fame, food and eBay, that will help addicts and their loved ones make the first steps into recovery; ‘This manual for self-realization comes not from a mountain but from the mud… My qualification is not that I am better than you but I am worse’–Russell Brand
Cover image for The glass castle
Author: Walls, Jeannette.

The Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a penetrating look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeannette’s brilliant father captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who hated anything to do with domesticity.

The Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered.

Cover image for Helping the addict you love : the new effective program for getting the addict into treatment
Author: Westreich, Laurence Michael.
It’s okay to love them. It’s your right to help them. Addiction destroys people and can even end lives. When you know or suspect that someone you love is suffering from addiction you have two goals: getting your loved one into treatment and turning that treatment into full-fledged sobriety. Many addiction experts tell you that you have to disengage or risk being an enabler, a codependent bystander, in the wreckage of an addict’s life; that you have to cut all ties or be taken advantage of financially and emotionally; that you have to protect yourself from your loved one, who isn’t the person you used to know. But many friends and family members find it unnatural, even impossible, to turn away from a person they love who is at his lowest point, and refuse to believe that their addict is lost to addiction. Backed by his years of experience, Dr. Westreich guides you through the process of getting the addict you love on the road to treatment and recovery. He provides detailed scripts to lead you through pivotal conversations with the addict in your life, highlighting the words that he’s found to be most effective and the words to avoid.


Cover image for It works : how and why : the twelve steps and twelve traditions of Narcotics Anonymous.
Author: Narcotics Anonymous
The book is a discussion of the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Narcotics Anonymous … It is meant to help the reader determine his own interpretation of the principles contained in Narcotics Anonymous’ steps and traditions. The authors hope the reader] will find personal growth, understanding, and empathy in the following pages … The book’s primary purpose is to carry the message to the still-suffering addict … The reasons [the] program works, the how and why of recovery, are found in many places, in each other, in one’s relationship with a Higher Power, in [everyone’s] hearts and minds, and finally, in the collective wisdom of the members … The principal endeavor in the development of this book has been to capture that collective wisdom in written form … The authors pray that this book truly represents the therapeutic value of one addict helping another.
Cover image for Alcoholics Anonymous : the story of how many thousands of men and women have recovered from alcoholism.

Alcoholics Anonymous : the story of how many thousands of men and women have recovered from alcoholism.

Alcoholics Anonymous (also known as the Big Book in recovery circles) sets forth cornerstone concepts of recovery from alcoholism and tells the stories of men and women who have overcome the disease.

Cover image for How Al-Anon works for families & friends of alcoholics.

Author: Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc.

How Al-Anon Works for Families and Friends of Alcoholics opens wide the door to a remarkable fellowship of courageous men and women who have experienced the sometimes subtle, but nonetheless devastating effects of another’s alcoholism. It invites us in to see how Al-Anon helps families of alcoholics to overcome even the most negative aspects of their lives and, in turn, extend hope and help to others. This is the essential book on Al-Anon Family Groups. It answers every question we might think to ask including, “”Can Al-Anon help me?””. Even the casual reader is captivated by pages filled with refreshing, down-to-earth wisdom drawn from thousands of Al-Anon members sharing their very personal experience, strength, and hope. Sparks of recognition and understanding flash again and again as we begin to grasp the enormous impact the alcoholism of someone close has had on our physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. To the millions of men, women, and children who have been affected by the alcoholism of another, this book extends the most precious of all gifts — hope.

Betty Ford : First Lady, Women’s Advocate, Survivor, Trailblazer also on ebook

The majority of the book focuses on her life as a congressman’s wife and then as first lady and her struggle to forge her own identity. When she openly discussed her breast cancer and later her opioid addiction, she sparked a national dialogue that brought both diseases to national attention and helped save thousands of lives. This fast-moving book reveals a lively, independent, and indomitable woman who influenced both the women’s movement and America’s perception of addiction.–Merle Jacob Copyright 2018 Booklist

101 tips for recovering from addictions : practical suggestions for creating a new life

“101 Tips for Recovering from Addictions is a great resource, giving a simple, fun and easily digestible format to a treasure trove of accumulated wisdom from the Winners who have overcome addictions to have a happy and healthy life.”
–Sarah Graham, addiction expert and member of UK Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD)


If you live for people’s acceptance, you’ll die from their rejection.

Two-time Grammy winning rap artist, Lecrae, learned this lesson through more than his share of adversity–childhood abuse, drugs and alcoholism, a stint in rehab, an abortion, and an unsuccessful suicide attempt.

Along the way, Lecrae attained an unwavering faith in Jesus and began looking to God for affirmation. Now as a chart-topping industry anomaly, he has learned to ignore the haters and make peace with his craft. The rap artist holds nothing back as he divulges the most sensitive details of his life, answers his critics, shares intimate handwritten journal entries, and powerfully models how to be a Christian in a secular age.

This is the story of one man’s journey to faith and freedom.

I have an alcoholic parent. Now what?

Recognizing and understanding the behavior of an alcoholic parent, as well as the impact it has on the child of an alcoholic, are important first steps toward physical well-being and emotional healing. This resource provides detailed information about the kinds of behaviors to look for, what constitutes an alcoholic beverage, and how much drinking is considered too much. Readers will find the tools they need to identify a drinking problem, the support required to come to terms with an alcoholic person in their family, and the resources that can help them and the entire family heal.

Dangerous when wet : a memoir

“A blisteringly funny, wrenching account of wrestling way too close to-and later loose from-booze, sex and drugs and his adorable, infuriating mother. Bravo!” -Mary Karr, New York Times bestselling author of The Liars’ Club

“Whoever said you can’t get sober for someone else never met my mother, Mama Jean. When I came to in a Manhattan emergency room after an overdose to the news that she was on her way from Texas, I panicked. She was the last person I wanted to see on that dark September morning, but the person I needed the most.”

So begins this astonishing memoir-by turns both darkly comic and deeply poignant-about this native Texan’s long struggle with alcohol, his complicated relationship with Mama Jean, and his sexuality. From the age of five all Brickhouse wanted was to be at a party with a drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other and all Mama Jean wanted was to keep him at that age, her Jamie doll forever. A Texan Elizabeth Taylor with the split personality of Auntie Mame and Mama Rose, always camera-readyand flamboyantly outspoken, Mama Jean haunted him his whole life, no matter how far away he went or how deep in booze he swam.

Brickhouse’s journey takes him from Texas to a high-profile career in book publishing amid New York’s glamorous drinking life to his near-fatal descent into alcoholism. After Mama Jean ushers him into rehab and he ultimately begins to dig out of the hole he’d found himself in, he almost misses his chance to prove that he loves her as much as she loves him. Bitingly funny, raw, and insightful, Dangerous When Wet is the unforgettable story of a unique relationship between a son and his mother.

All the way : my life on ice

It seemed as though nothing could stop Jordin Tootoo on the ice. The captain, a fan favourite, a star in international competition, Tootoo was always a leader. And when he was drafted by Nashville in 2001 and made the Predators out of camp in 2003, he became a leader in another way–as the first player of Inuk descent to suit up in the NHL.
All the challenges and pressure would have been more than enough for any rookie, but Tootoo faced something far more difficult: the tragic loss of his older brother before his first shift for the Predators. Though he played through it, Tootoo suffered from many of the same problems that have plagued so many people from his community. In 2010, he checked himself into rehab for alcohol addiction. It seemed as though a promising career had ended too soon.
But that’s not the way Tootoo saw it and not the way it would end. Told in Tootoo’s bold voice, with contributions by Stephen Brunt, arguably one of the best sportswriters, All the Way is the searing, honest tale of a young man who has risen to every challenge but all too nearly fell short in the toughest game of all.
Documentary film about the over 23 million Americans living in long-term recovery from alcohol and other drug addiction. Against a background of social stigma, addiction recovery advocates are organizing to end discrimination and move toward recovery-based solutions.

Double double : a dual memoir of addiction

Fans of best-selling mystery writer Martha Grimes might be shocked to learn that she was a habitual and self-destructive alcoholic for almost 30 years, before seeking help in 1990. Her son, Ken, was also a drinker, beginning at the age of 13 and continuing for more than a decade, until (also in 1990) he, too, began pulling himself out of his addiction. This collaborative memoir, written in mostly alternating chapters, recounts their lives before, during, and after their addictions. Although they are telling very similar stories, there are many differences in the way the authors see their former selves; even their approaches to healing were different (Martha entered a rehab clinic, while Ken did a 12-step program). But one similarity permeates the book: these are two strong, self-aware people who fell into their addictions by accident and were unaware of their growing reliance on alcohol until it was nearly too late to stop, and then each of them found the strength to reverse the pattern. This deserves shelf space alongside other literary alcoholism memoirs including Pete Hamill’s A Drinking Life (1994) and Augusten Burroughs’ Dry (2003).–Pitt, David Copyright 2010 Booklist.

A drinking life : a memoir

A journalist and author of Loving Women recreates the hard-drinking Brooklyn-Irish lifestyle that informed every aspect of his childhood and early career and that eventually destroyed his marriage.

Bill W.

Tells the story of William G. Wilson, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, a man included in TIME Magazine’s 100 Persons of the 20th Century. Interviews, recreations, and rare archival material reveal how Bill Wilson, a hopeless drunk near death from his alcoholism, found a way out of his own addiction and then forged a path for countless others to follow.
Filmed over a span of eighteen years, Drunk in public profiles Mark David Allen, a man ravaged by alcoholism who, in the course of the film, had been arrested for public drunkenness 478 times.

Becoming naturally therapeutic : a return to the true essence of helping

Already a classic in the alcohol treatment and counseling communities, here is a life-changing guide for anyone in a therapeutic relationship–whether a professional counselor, a teacher, a parent, or a friend. Based on studies that pinpoint the characteristics of the most effective therapists, Becoming Naturally Therapeutic shows you how to help those you care about by opening your heart and releasing the healer within. A nationally known pioneer in the area of addiction and transpersonal psychology, Jacquelyn Small shows you how to emphasize without enabling, how to care without controlling, and how by helping others in a genuine spirit of giving you invariably help yourself. She teaches how the true art of therapy lives within us all. You’ll learn: The ten characteristics–from empathy and warmth to immediacy and concreteness–that all counselors need to discover within themselves. How to overcome patterns of toxic relating–the pitfalls of the preacher, judge, teacher, or savior that are barriers to true intimacy. The principle of helpful confrontation: when to use it and how. How to “straight-talk” beyond codependent ways of helping and point those in need to their own inner strength. Complete with practical exercises and sample dialogues, this clear and compassionate guide will help you let go and become the natural healer you are meant to be.

Searchable Subject Terms

Opium abuse.

Medication abuse.

Heroin abuse.

Drug abuse — Treatment.

Drug addicts — Rehabilitation.

Women drug addicts — United States — Biography.

Drug addicts — Rehabilitation — United States — Biography.

Heroin abuse — United States.

Rock musicians — Biography.

Drug addicts — Biography.

Drug addicts — Biography.

Drug addicts — Family relationships.

Heroin abuse — Treatment.

Skateboarders — United States — Biography.

Drug addicts — United States — Biography.

Drug addicts — Rehabilitation — United States.

Heroin abuse — United States.

Drug addicts — United States — Biography.

Alcoholics — United States — Biography.

Drug addicts — Rehabilitation — United States — Biography.

Alcoholics — Rehabilitation — United States — Biography.

Mothers — United States — Biography.

Drug abuse — Treatment — California.

Methamphetamine abuse — Treatment — California.

Children of divorced parents — California.

Drug addicts — California — Biography.

Drug addicts — Rehabilitation — California.

Methamphetamine abuse — California — Biography.

Drug addicts — United States — Biography.

Ex-drug addicts — United States — Biography.

Opioid abuse.

Parents of drug addicts — Biography.

Women drug addicts — Family relationships — Biography.

Daughters — Drug use.

Mothers and daughters.

Homeless persons — Great Britain — Biography.

Drug addicts — Great Britain — Biography.

Addicts — Rehabilitation.

Substance abuse — Treatment.

Twelve-step programs.

Comedians — Great Britain — Biography.

Celebrities — Great Britain — Biography.

Addicts — Great Britain — Biography.

Children of alcoholics — Biography.

Children of alcoholics — West Virginia — Welch — Biography.

Dysfunctional families — Case studies.

Dysfunctional families — West Virginia — Welch — Case studies.

Poor — West Virginia — Welch — Biography.

Homeless persons — Family relationships — New York (State) — New York.

Substance abuse — Treatment.

Addicts — Rehabilitation.

Narcotics Anonymous.

Drug addicts — Rehabilitation.

Alcoholics — Rehabilitation.

Alcoholism — Treatment.

Alcoholics Anonymous.

Alcoholics — Family relationships.

Alcoholics’ spouses.

Children of alcoholics.

Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc.

Substance abuse — Treatment.

Drug addiction — Treatment.

Alcoholism — Treatment.

Alcoholics — Family relationships — Juvenile literature.

Children of alcoholics — Juvenile literature.

Alcoholism — Juvenile literature.

Alcoholics — United States — Biography.

Alcoholics — Family relationships — United States.

Personal Memoirs.

Inuit hockey players — Biography.

Hockey players — Canada — Biography.

Recovering alcoholics — Canada — Biography.

Drinking of alcoholic beverages — Party.

Substance abuse — Treatment.

Recovering addicts.

Addicts — Rehabilitation.


Drug abuse.

Authors — 20th century — Biography.

Alcoholics — Biography.

Alcoholics — Family relationships.

Alcoholism — Biography.

Authors, American — 20th century — Biography.

Irish Americans — Social life and customs.

Journalists — Biography.

Alcoholics — Biography.

Drinking customs.

Alcoholics — Rehabilitation.

Alcoholics Anonymous — History.

Alcoholics — Biography.

Alcoholism — Case studies.

Drug addiction.

Substance-related disorders.

Compulsive behavior.

Alcohol — Physiological effects.

Alcoholism — Social aspects.

Alcoholism — Treatment.

Alcoholism — Prevention.

Alcoholism counseling.