Addiction and Recovery Memoirs Worth the Read

These books take you through the lives of seven individual addicts from all walks of life. If you enjoy a good memoir, these are definitely worth reading.

The memoir has become one of the most popular book genres in recent years. And among memoirs, the addiction and recovery narrative is one of the most compelling. In fact, there are dozens of this type of memoir published every year. In this post, we round up some of the best of recent years – all worth a read.

Drinking: A Love Story
by Caroline Knapp

In this intriguing twist on the path of recovery, Caroline Knapp characterises her use of alcohol as a relationship with a romantic partner. With simple, clear writing, she infuses the book with anecdotes and wise observations of her movement to sobriety.

Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man
by Bill Clegg

Written by a high-profile literary agent, this memoir chronicles the author’s addiction and recovery from crack cocaine. As a high-functioning addict with an adequate income, Clegg did not suffer the same destitution that others addicted to the drug face. In fact, he spent parts of his life as an addict in designer hotels. Nevertheless, in its piquant portrayals of the inner anguish of his addiction, this ranks as a powerful rendition of the perils of addiction.

by Mary Karr

Written by a poet and accomplished memoirist with several other best-sellers to her name, this volume chronicles her experiences with alcohol. Rich with vivid imagery, strong storytelling, and stunning self-awareness, this is a book that is both beautiful and touching.

by Heather King

This genuine and affecting foray into the life of a former alcoholic was written by a staff writer for National Public Radio. Written in an engaging and accessible style, it is filled with anecdotes related in a distinctive New England style – characteristic of her Boston stomping grounds.

The Night of the Gun
by David Carr

What do you get when a reporter decides to writer a memoir of his alcohol and cocaine addictions? A well-crafted, honest, and harrowing account of a downward spiral. What makes the tale all the more poignant is Carr’s desire to get clean after his son is born.

Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines
by Nic Scheff

In this poignant and dark work, we follow the author’s decent into the world of methamphetamine abuse. The book has gritty scenes and is filled with the anecdotes of how far one can go when in the grip of addiction. This book is the counterpart to Beautiful Boy (see below), written by Nic’s father, David. Read together, they provide a powerful set of perspectives on the way addiction affects both the addict and those who care for them.

Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction
by David Scheff

Filled with remorse and self-questioning about how his son could become an addict, this memoir is a haunting account of what happens to a parent when some of their worst fears materialise. The juxtaposition of his son’s promising future with the crushing weight of addiction is saddening, but lightened by the eventual journey to recovery.

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