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3 Books Inspired By Addiction and Recovery

3 Books Inspired By Addiction and Recovery

Author: Justin Mckibben

We all have our own stories; stories we were told since childhood, stories we have made up about ourselves. We have stories we’ve materialized out of relationships that have meant so much more for us. We have sad, lonely stories. We have jubilant and victorious stories. Every human being could write a lifetime worth of stories. There is that philosophical question- if your life was a book, would anyone read it? Well, some books are just meant to be written and when it comes to books inspired by addiction and recovery there are enough insane and exciting stories to fill every library on earth.

Some of us feel our way through life by the stories we know. We attach emotionally to characters and the context in which their path will climax, and then see our own lives through the same metaphors and meanings. Sometimes a good fiction based in truth or a biography of sorts that tells a story of addiction, abuse and recovery can make a far deeper impact than a self-help book or a therapeutic text. Some heroes trek through the hell of addiction and live to tell about it in a way that changes the world.

Here are 3 books inspired by addiction and recovery.

  1. Black Out

This memoir, written by Sarah Hepola, is a New York Times Bestseller. In it the author talks about her descent into alcoholism and describes alcohol as “the gasoline of all adventure.” This is the story of a woman in the twenty-first-century who drinks for a feeling of freedom. But that freedom came at the cost of frequent black-outs that brought shame and a shrinking spirit.

The story then evolves through honesty and humor into one of seeking and finding sobriety. It is described as being a tale that can resonate with anyone who has struggled in the face of such change.

“It’s hard to think of another memoir that burrows inside an addict’s brain like this one does. . . . Her writing lights up the pages, and she infuses the chapters describing her resolute slog toward sobriety with warmth and sprightly humor. [Grade:] A.”

Entertainment Weekly

  1. Gun, Needle, Spoon

This memoir on the list comes from author Patrick O’Neil. His debut memoir, Patrick O’Neil is regarded by reviews as having written the “secret within the secret” about the gritty consequences of active addiction. Starting the story off with a brutal arrest for armed robberies to pay for drugs, the writer is incarcerated.

However through his incarceration this former punk rock roadie is given the window of opportunity into recovery. The book delves into the path of redemption and gives a very real look at an aspect of the addicts life of crime.

“GUN NEEDLE SPOON is like having a near-death experience… with Patrick O’Neil’s life flashing before your eyes.”


  1. Permanent Midnight

This powerful memoir by Jerry Stahl was actually adapted into an independent drama film in 1998 starring Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson. It tells the story of a young writer, and heroin addict, who is on a mission with his editor driving across the country to Los Angeles. The two aim to write the TV show… maybe you’ve heard of it… ALF.

This story is described as a colorful and hilarious look into a life of addiction, but it does visit some horrific moments. At one point the protagonist buys heroin with his daughter in the car seat, and later he kicks his dope habit in a garage while the LA Riots rage on the other side of those walls.

Ben Stiller was critically acclaimed for his performance, but the movie failed in the box office. Still, Stahl’s success as a comedy writer made for a great story of overcoming such an intense portrait of heroin addiction in the 1980s.

These stories are told to tell a very graphic, honest but deeply human and personal side of struggles with addiction. They not only chronicle the experience of individuals, but they try to connect to the real fight every addict faces. These stories might not be word for word what every addict’s experience is, but they narrate a truth we all should come to value; addiction comes in many difference forms. It touches lives in very different ways, but no matter what the stakes, it can be overcome.

There is always a way to start writing your own story of recovery from addiction. How will your memoirs read? If you wrote a story about your struggle, what would it inspire?

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