9 Best Books About Addiction | Non-Fiction & Fiction

Addiction is a complex and often misunderstood disease that affects millions of people worldwide. While it can be difficult to fully comprehend the nature of addiction, reading about real-life experiences and expert insights can offer a valuable perspective. Whether you’re struggling with addiction yourself or simply looking to learn more, there are countless books out there that can help you gain a deeper understanding of this pressing issue. Here are the best books about addiction to read now, broken down by category.

9 Best Books About Addiction | Non-Fiction & Fiction

Understanding Addiction Through Literature

The Importance of Reading About Addiction

Before diving into specific titles, it’s worth considering why reading about addiction can be so valuable. Addiction is a complex and often misunderstood topic, and reading about it can help to dispel common myths and misconceptions. For example, many people believe that addiction is simply a matter of willpower or a moral failing, when in reality it is a complex interplay of psychological, social, and biological factors.

By reading about addiction, we can gain a deeper understanding of these factors and how they contribute to addiction. This can help us to better empathize with those who are struggling with addiction and to work towards more effective solutions as a society.

How Books Can Offer Support and Insight

Books about addiction can also offer support and insight for those who have experienced addiction firsthand or have loved ones who are struggling. For those who are in recovery, these books can offer stories of hope and inspiration, showing that it is possible to overcome addiction and build a fulfilling life in sobriety.

For family members and friends of those struggling with addiction, these books can offer guidance on how to best support their loved one and navigate the challenges that come with addiction. They can also offer a sense of community and connection with others who have been through similar struggles, helping to combat the isolation and stigma that often surround addiction.

Overall, reading about addiction can be a powerful tool for increasing understanding, building empathy, and finding support and hope. Whether you are personally affected by addiction or simply interested in learning more, there are many books available that can offer valuable insights and perspectives.

Memoirs That Shed Light on Personal Struggles

Memoirs have a way of drawing readers in, offering a glimpse into the lives of others and the struggles they face. These three memoirs, in particular, shed light on the personal struggles of addiction and the journey to recovery.

A Million Little Pieces by James Frey

A Million Little Pieces

James Frey’s memoir, A Million Little Pieces, is a powerful and controversial account of his own struggle with addiction. The book takes readers on a journey through Frey’s rock bottom moment in rehab and his ongoing struggle to stay sober.

Throughout the book, Frey grapples with questions of identity, responsibility, and redemption. He lays bare the raw emotions and experiences of addiction and recovery, offering a glimpse into a world that is often misunderstood.

Despite accusations of embellishment and plagiarism, the book continues to resonate with readers for its honesty and unflinching portrayal of addiction and recovery. It is a testament to the human capacity for growth and change, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Beautiful Boy by David Sheff

Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction

David Sheff’s memoir, Beautiful Boy, is a heartbreaking account of his son Nic’s descent into addiction and his family’s struggle to come to terms with it. Throughout the book, Sheff explores the challenges of loving someone who is struggling with addiction, as well as the toll that addiction can take on a family.

Despite the pain and heartache that Sheff and his family experience, the book is ultimately a story of hope and resilience. Sheff’s unwavering love and support help his son to find his way back to sobriety, offering a powerful example of the power of love to heal even the deepest wounds.

Dry by Augusten Burroughs

Dry: A Memoir

Augusten Burroughs’ memoir, Dry, is a witty and heartbreaking account of his battle with alcoholism in his thirties. The book offers a glimpse into the toll that addiction can take on relationships and the struggle for sobriety.

Initially attempting to get sober on his own, Burroughs eventually finds his way to a supportive community of fellow recovering addicts. Through his sharp writing and wry humor, he offers a relatable and hopeful look at the journey to sobriety.

These three memoirs offer a powerful glimpse into the personal struggles of addiction and the journey to recovery. They are a testament to the human capacity for growth and change, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Informative Non-Fiction Books on Addiction

Drug and alcohol addiction have been a problem for centuries, affecting individuals and communities worldwide. In recent years, there has been a growing interest in understanding the underlying causes of addiction and developing more effective approaches to treatment and recovery. If you are looking for informative non-fiction books on addiction, here are three highly recommended options:

In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts by Gabor Maté

In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction

Dr. Gabor Maté, a Canadian physician, has spent over 20 years working with people struggling with addiction. In his book, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, he explores addiction from a holistic perspective, examining the psychological, social, and neurological factors that contribute to it.

Maté argues that addiction is not a choice or a moral failing, but rather a response to trauma and disconnection. He shares stories from his own practice and research to illustrate the ways in which addiction can be understood as a coping mechanism for unresolved emotional pain. By offering a compassionate and nuanced approach to addiction, Maté provides hope for those seeking recovery.

Chasing the Scream by Johann Hari

Chasing the Scream: The Inspiration for the Feature Film 'The United States vs. Billie Holiday' (The Opposite of Addiction is Connection)

Johann Hari, a British journalist, spent three years traveling the world and researching the history and politics of the war on drugs. In his book, Chasing the Scream, he challenges many of the assumptions that underpin current drug policies.

Through interviews with experts and former addicts, Hari explores the social and cultural factors that contribute to addiction, such as poverty, trauma, and social isolation. He also examines the ways in which drug laws and stigmatization have failed to address the root causes of addiction and have instead perpetuated harm. By advocating for a more empathetic and evidence-based approach to addiction, Hari offers a compelling argument for change.

The Biology of Desire by Marc Lewis

The Biology of Desire: Why Addiction Is Not a Disease

Dr. Marc Lewis, a neuroscientist and former addict, draws on his own experience and research to offer a unique perspective on addiction in his book, The Biology of Desire.

Unlike traditional models of addiction, which view it as a disease or a moral failing, Lewis argues that addiction is a normal response of the brain to chronic drug use. By examining the ways in which the brain and addiction interact, he provides a new framework for understanding the nature of addiction and the potential for recovery.

Throughout the book, Lewis challenges traditional notions of addiction treatment and recovery, advocating for a more individualized and holistic approach. By offering a deeper understanding of addiction, he provides hope for those struggling with addiction and their loved ones.

Fictional Works That Explore Addiction

Drug addiction is a complex and devastating problem that affects millions of people around the world. It is a chronic disease that can have severe physical, psychological, and social consequences. Many authors have explored this theme in their works, offering insights into the nature of addiction, its causes, and its impact on individuals and society.

Requiem for a Dream by Hubert Selby Jr.

Requiem for a Dream: A Novel

This novel is a dark and haunting portrayal of addiction and its consequences, set against the backdrop of Brooklyn in the 1970s. The story follows four characters as they spiral into increasingly destructive patterns of drug use, delusion, and despair.

The characters in Requiem for a Dream are all searching for something: love, fame, success, or simply a way to escape their pain. They turn to drugs as a means of achieving their goals, but soon find themselves trapped in a cycle of addiction and desperation. The novel is a powerful indictment of the American Dream and the high cost of pursuing it.

One of the most striking aspects of Requiem for a Dream is its vivid and unsettling imagery. Selby’s prose is raw and visceral, capturing the physical and emotional toll of addiction in graphic detail. The novel is not for the faint of heart, but it offers a sobering look at the realities of addiction and the ease with which we can lose ourselves in our own desires.

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

Infinite Jest

David Foster Wallace’s mammoth novel is not strictly about addiction, but rather a sprawling exploration of American culture, entertainment, and excess. However, addiction is a recurring theme throughout the book, as many of its characters grapple with substance abuse in various forms.

The novel is set in a near-future world where entertainment has become the dominant force in society. People are addicted to all kinds of media, from movies and TV shows to video games and drugs. The characters in the book are all searching for something to fill the void in their lives, and many turn to addiction as a means of escape.

Infinite Jest is a challenging read, with its complex narrative structure, footnotes, and experimental style. However, for those willing to dive in, it offers a fascinating and profound meditation on the nature of addiction, entertainment, and human connection. It is a book that rewards careful reading and reflection, and one that will stay with you long after you finish it.

Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh

Trainspotting (Mark Renton series Book 2)

This raw and gritty novel is set in Edinburgh in the 1980s and follows a group of characters as they struggle with addiction and poverty. With its vivid vernacular and unflinching portrayal of drug use, Trainspotting is not for the faint of heart.

The characters in Trainspotting are all young and disillusioned, living in a world that has little to offer them. They turn to heroin as a means of escape, but soon find themselves trapped in a cycle of addiction and despair. The novel is a powerful critique of UK society at the time, with its broken families, failed social policies, and rampant drug use.

One of the most striking aspects of Trainspotting is its use of language. Welsh’s prose is full of slang, dialect, and profanity, capturing the gritty reality of life on the streets. The novel is a challenging read, but it is also a powerful and important work of literature that offers a searing critique of addiction and its impact.


Whether you’re looking for inspiration, insight, or simply a captivating read, these ten books about addiction offer something for everyone. From personal memoirs to informative non-fiction works and probing works of fiction, these books offer a diverse and nuanced look at addiction and its impact on individuals and society.

While there are no easy answers when it comes to the complex issue of addiction, reading and learning about it can be a powerful first step toward greater understanding and empathy. By engaging with these books and their authors, we can better equip ourselves to tackle addiction as a global community.

YouTube video
Eddison Monroe
Latest posts by Eddison Monroe (see all)