By BrightView
Published: February 18, 2023
Updated: August 17, 2023

No matter where you are on your journey to recovery, it helps to have stories from peer groups who understand what you are going through. This is also helpful for friends and family members as they support you through the recovery process.

While self-help books are not a solution for long-term recovery, they can be very helpful for your “emotional recovery”. There is no replacement for a comprehensive treatment program to help anyone struggling with an alcohol or substance use disorder, but reading true stories from others with similar experiences can be an excellent complement to treatment.

Here are some of the best books related to drug and alcohol use disorders.


1) Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola
This New York Times Best Seller and memoir has been described as “unblinkingly honest and poignant, with laugh-out-loud humor.” It’s about giving up the thing you cherish most–but getting yourself back in return.


2) Party Girl: A Novel by Anna David
David’s reality-fiction novel is based on a Hollywood party girl with a substance use disorder (SUD). Her partying doesn’t pay off, and ultimately, she loses her job. She decides to quit her drug use but struggles with her new identity.


3) BACK ON TRACKmarks: From Hopeless to Dopeless by Matt Peterson
Peterson shares the true story of his journey from opiate painkillers to heroin use. As the son of a Southern Baptist preacher, he seemed an unlikely candidate for a SUD. Peterson’s story shows how this disease doesn’t discriminate and can be overcome.


4) Spirit Junkie: A Radical Road to Self-Love and Miracles by Gabrielle Bernstein
Bernstein struggled with eating disorders, drug and alcohol use, and constant self-doubt and self-loathing before she became the celebrated teacher and lecturer that she is now. In her book, she guides readers through the life-changing lessons that shaped her spiritual journey: how we become accustomed to fearful ways of thinking, how to recognize and change those thought patterns to make way for bliss, and how to maintain our happiness and share it with the world.


5) Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis & Larry Sloman
Another New York Times Best Seller, Scar Tissue is the “vivid and inspiring” account of Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman, Anthony Kiedis and his journey through fame in the rock world. The artist discusses his journey, including his descent into drug use and finding light through the darkness.


6) Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp
Knapp shares her personal memoir and brings to light the fact that more than 15 million Americans a year have an alcohol use disorder (AUD), and 5 million of them are women. She details drinking through her years at an Ivy-League college, and an award-winning career—all while trying to portray herself as a dutiful daughter and professional. Readers looking for recovery books geared towards women will appreciate Knapp’s honest account.


7) Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself by Melody Beattie
Is someone else’s problem your problem? If, like so many others, you’ve lost sight of your own life in the drama of tending to someone else’s, you may be codependent–and you may find yourself in this book. The healing touchstone of millions, this modern classic holds the key to understanding codependency and unlocking its frustrating hold on your life.


8) High Achiever: The Incredible True Story of One Addict’s Double Life by Tiffany Jenkins
This true story reads like gripping fiction. Jenkins breaks through the stigma and silence surrounding her SUD to offer hope and inspiration to anyone battling the disease. A raw, page-turning memoir spans her life including her drug use, her 120 days in a Florida jail, and her ongoing recovery.


9) Smacked: A Story of White-Collar Ambition, Addiction, and Tragedy by Eilene Zimmerman
Zimmerman reveals the shocking moment she discovered her ex-husband and father of her children had a SUD. She takes readers on an intimate journey of how she started rebuilding a life for herself and her children while researching how common SUDs are in white-collar settings.


10) Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction by David Sheff
What happened to my beautiful boy? To our family? What did I do wrong? These are the wrenching questions haunting Sheff’s journey through his son’s drug use and tentative steps toward recovery.


These stories reinforce common truths about recovery:”addiction does not discriminate” and “progress, not perfection is key.”


11) Girl Walks Out of a Bar: A Memoir by Lisa Smith
This book explores author Smith’s formative years, her decade of alcohol and drug use, her divorce, and her road to recovery. Her darkly comic and wrenchingly honest story, includes how her circumstances conspired with her predisposition to depression and self-medication to create an environment where her AUD flourished. The book is a candid alcohol recovery book written through the lens of gritty New York realism.


12) Terry: My Daughter’s Life-and-Death Struggle with Alcoholism by George McGovern
McGovern served in the U.S. Senate for 18 years and was even the 1972 Democratic candidate for president. Rarely has a public figure addressed such difficult, intimate issues with such courage and bravery. In a moving, passionate memoir, McGovern recalls the events leading up to his daughter Terry’s death due to an AUD.


13) Guts: The Endless Follies and Tiny Triumphs of a Giant Disaster by Kristen Johnston
In her first book, Johnston writes about her journey that is so truthful and relatable, so remarkably fresh, it promises to stay with you for a long time. The actress writes, “it felt like I was speeding on the Autobahn toward hell, trapped inside a DeLorean with no brakes. I assumed it didn’t even matter if I could stop. There was no way I’d be able to figure out how to open those insane, cocaine-designed doors.”


14) Strung Out: 1 Last Hit & Other Lies That Nearly Killed Me by Erin Khar
No one expected Khar was developing a SUD as a popular and talented teen. But the perceived need for perfection created immense pressure for Erin from her world. This led to her use of heroin – which began at age 13. Her book details a 15-year battle and how she finally began recovery. It’s another, much-needed story about how this disease doesn’t discriminate and can be overcome.


15) Dry by Augusten Burroughs
In this witty memoir and New York Times Best Seller, author Augusten Burroughs recounts how he ended up in a recovery program, and the realization that when he gets out in 30 days, he will still have to live his same life, but without alcohol. Dry is the story of love, loss, and Starbucks as a Higher Power.


16) Unwifeable: A Memoir by Mandy Stadtmiller
Provocative, fearless, and dizzyingly uncensored, Stadtmiller spills every secret she knows about dating, networking, comedy, celebrity, psychology, relationships, drug use, and the quest to find one’s true nature. She takes readers behind the scenes (and names names) as she relays her journey. 


17) How to Murder Your Life: A Memoir by Cat Marnell
The New York Times bestselling author and former beauty editor provides us with a “vivid, maddening, heartbreaking, very funny, and chaotic” memoir of a SUD and self-sabotage. Set in the glamorous world of fashion magazines and downtown nightclubs, you’ll appreciate her unique perspective.


18) Drunk Mom: A Memoir by Jowita Bydlowska
This true story reveals how Bydlowska found herself drinking champagne like it was water just three years after getting healthy. It was a special occasion: a party celebrating the birth of her first child. It also marked Bydlowska’s immediate, full-blown return to a crippling SUD. This book is a great reminder that progress, not perfection is key when it comes to your recovery.


19) The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober: Discovering A Happy, Healthy, Wealthy Alcohol-Free Life by Catherine Gray
Gray was stuck in an endless cycle of drinking, making horrible decisions, experiencing withdrawal, and then repeating it. She had her fair share of jail cells and risque misadventures. ​​​​​But this book goes beyond the binges and blackouts to answer the question: What happens after you quit drinking? This gripping, heart-breaking, witty book takes us down the rabbit hole of Gray’s reality without withdrawal and all of life’s events that can fuel an AUD.


20) A Happier Hour by Rebecca Weller
At 39 years of age – and a health coach, no less – Weller knew better than to drink several bottles of wine each week. Her increasingly dysfunctional relationship with alcohol had to stop, but after decades of social drinking, she was terrified of what that might mean. She takes us through her journey of recovery in this moving, inspiring story about giving up something you think you love to live the life you truly want. 


We Can Help You Change Your Story
If you or a
loved one are currently struggling with drug or alcohol use, you are not alone. Please seek the help you deserve. BrightView offers comprehensive outpatient treatment that can help you reclaim your life. Please call us today. Our friendly team answers the phone 24 hours a day. 833.510.4357.