Audiobooks to Support You in Your Addiction & Recovery Journey

From moving memoirs to self-help guides, these are some of the best listens on addiction and recovery we've found.

Every person who struggles with addiction has a different story. And yet, there is something relatable and valuable within every person’s journey. The road to recovery is not an easy one, nor a straight path. For some, hearing stories about addiction might be triggering when in the thick of their own personal battles. But for many, many others, audiobooks about addiction and recovery help them feel less alone and provide a source of inspiration and empowerment. If you’re among those who find listening to stories about addiction and recovery helpful and reassuring, here are some heartfelt, well-researched, and highly recommended options. 

This Naked Mind

If you struggle with alcoholism or think you might have issues with alcohol, Annie Grace’s This Naked Mind is a practical listen to help you reconsider what drinking does for you and understand what recovery can mean. Using psychological, sociological, and neurological research into the nature of alcohol use, this listen will open your eyes to how our society positively frames alcohol use and encourages alcoholism. And while this audiobook is filled with scientific facts, Grace’s personal journey of alcoholism and recovery truly drives the point home. The author narrates her work in a way that’s encouraging without being over enthusiastic or pushy. You can have freedom from alcohol, and This Naked Mind wants to help you get there.

Cold Turkey

While This Naked Mind shows that you have the tools to reprogram your mind and live a life free from alcohol, Cold Turkey offers practical steps to get you through the first month of recovery. Like Annie Grace, Mishka Shubaly uses his own messy history with alcoholism and recovery to show just how difficult the road to recovery can be. The author argues that “one-size-fits-all” plans, like 12-step programs, do not set you up for success. Rather, to become truly free from addiction, he recommends finding a way to define sobriety in your own terms. Shubaly narrates his work exclusively for Audible, and his reading feels like a good friend telling you a story and offering advice.

Between Breaths

In this memoir, beloved 20/20 anchor Elizabeth Vargas goes beyond her struggle with alcoholism to look at how her experiences and her history led her to the moment where she admitted in an interview that she was, in fact, an alcoholic. She recalls her childhood experiences with anxiety, her time in rehab, and the guilt she felt as a mother who was seemingly never able to find the balance between work and family life. Vargas’s memoir has been described as “honest and hopeful,” and that tone comes across in the author’s accomplished and moving narration of Between Breaths.

Recovery

Here's a celebrity memoir from famous actor and comedian Russell Brand that also offers helpful advice for recovery. Brand has suffered from a variety of addictions—heroin, alcohol, sex, fame, food, bad relationships, and eBay—and in Recovery, he offers listeners insights into what he’s learned on the road to recovery for every type of addiction. The actor performs the audiobook himself with the right balance of humor and sincerity.

Memoirs Aren't Fairytales

While this listen might appear to be autobiographical, it’s actually a work of fiction that’s meant to be experienced as if it were a memoir. And the portrait of heroin addiction it depicts is a painful reality for many people. Memoirs Aren’t Fairytales tells the story of Nicole, a 19-year-old girl who leaves college life in Maine behind to start over in Boston with her best friend, Eric. Nicole and Eric think they are running away to freedom, but what they discover instead are the shackles of heroin addiction. Marni Mann’s novel sounds as real, raw, and honest as an actual memoir, and listeners describe Arden Hammersmith’s narration as "superb."

Beautiful Boy

If you love someone or have ever loved someone who has struggled with addiction, David Sheff's memoir is for you. In this heartbreaking listen, Sheff tells the difficult story of being a parent watching his teenage son struggle with meth addiction. Before his addiction, Sheff’s son Nic was a talented writer, athlete, and student. In Beautiful Boy, Sheff recounts the horror of watching all of that slip away as Nic fell further into meth and a life on the streets. (If you would like to hear Nic’s side of the story, his memoir Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines is also available on Audible.)

A Piece of Cake

Before Cupcake Brown reached the age of 20, she had already suffered several lifetimes’ worth of hardships: being orphaned twice over, abuse, rape, drug addiction, alcoholism, miscarriage, drug dealing, theft, prostitution, and homelessness. But in spite of everything, Cupcake turned it around and triumphed. If you’re looking for a story of overcoming and persevering against all obstacles, A Piece of Cake delivers. This memoir is narrated by the talented Bahni Turpin, an Audie Award winner and one of my personal favorite audiobook performers.

It Calls You Back

It Calls You Back is Luis Rodriguez's second memoir, following Always Running. In this audiobook, Rodriguez recalls his final days in prison as a teenager and his struggle with heroin addiction and alcohol. But just as he begins to see a light at the end of the tunnel for his own fight against addiction and criminal life, Rodriguez realizes that he must now fight to make sure his son doesn't follow down the same path.

Last Night I Sang to the Monster

The final audiobook on this list is another powerful work of fiction. By the author of the best-selling Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Last Night I Sang to the Monster tells the story of 18-year-old Zach, a bright young student who has somehow found himself in an addiction recovery center rather than in high school. Only he has no recollection of how he got there—and he's not sure he wants to remember either. Accomplished actor MacLeod Andrews narrates Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s powerful, beautifully written novel.

This Naked Mind

If you struggle with alcoholism or think you might have issues with alcohol, Annie Grace’s This Naked Mind is a practical listen to help you reconsider what drinking does for you and understand what recovery can mean. Using psychological, sociological, and neurological research into the nature of alcohol use, this listen will open your eyes to how our society positively frames alcohol use and encourages alcoholism. And while this audiobook is filled with scientific facts, Grace’s personal journey of alcoholism and recovery truly drives the point home. The author narrates her work in a way that’s encouraging without being over enthusiastic or pushy. You can have freedom from alcohol, and This Naked Mind wants to help you get there.

Cold Turkey

While This Naked Mind shows that you have the tools to reprogram your mind and live a life free from alcohol, Cold Turkey offers practical steps to get you through the first month of recovery. Like Annie Grace, Mishka Shubaly uses his own messy history with alcoholism and recovery to show just how difficult the road to recovery can be. The author argues that “one-size-fits-all” plans, like 12-step programs, do not set you up for success. Rather, to become truly free from addiction, he recommends finding a way to define sobriety in your own terms. Shubaly narrates his work exclusively for Audible, and his reading feels like a good friend telling you a story and offering advice.

Between Breaths

In this memoir, beloved 20/20 anchor Elizabeth Vargas goes beyond her struggle with alcoholism to look at how her experiences and her history led her to the moment where she admitted in an interview that she was, in fact, an alcoholic. She recalls her childhood experiences with anxiety, her time in rehab, and the guilt she felt as a mother who was seemingly never able to find the balance between work and family life. Vargas’s memoir has been described as “honest and hopeful,” and that tone comes across in the author’s accomplished and moving narration of Between Breaths.

Recovery

Here's a celebrity memoir from famous actor and comedian Russell Brand that also offers helpful advice for recovery. Brand has suffered from a variety of addictions—heroin, alcohol, sex, fame, food, bad relationships, and eBay—and in Recovery, he offers listeners insights into what he’s learned on the road to recovery for every type of addiction. The actor performs the audiobook himself with the right balance of humor and sincerity.

Memoirs Aren't Fairytales

While this listen might appear to be autobiographical, it’s actually a work of fiction that’s meant to be experienced as if it were a memoir. And the portrait of heroin addiction it depicts is a painful reality for many people. Memoirs Aren’t Fairytales tells the story of Nicole, a 19-year-old girl who leaves college life in Maine behind to start over in Boston with her best friend, Eric. Nicole and Eric think they are running away to freedom, but what they discover instead are the shackles of heroin addiction. Marni Mann’s novel sounds as real, raw, and honest as an actual memoir, and listeners describe Arden Hammersmith’s narration as "superb."

Beautiful Boy

If you love someone or have ever loved someone who has struggled with addiction, David Sheff's memoir is for you. In this heartbreaking listen, Sheff tells the difficult story of being a parent watching his teenage son struggle with meth addiction. Before his addiction, Sheff’s son Nic was a talented writer, athlete, and student. In Beautiful Boy, Sheff recounts the horror of watching all of that slip away as Nic fell further into meth and a life on the streets. (If you would like to hear Nic’s side of the story, his memoir Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines is also available on Audible.)

A Piece of Cake

Before Cupcake Brown reached the age of 20, she had already suffered several lifetimes’ worth of hardships: being orphaned twice over, abuse, rape, drug addiction, alcoholism, miscarriage, drug dealing, theft, prostitution, and homelessness. But in spite of everything, Cupcake turned it around and triumphed. If you’re looking for a story of overcoming and persevering against all obstacles, A Piece of Cake delivers. This memoir is narrated by the talented Bahni Turpin, an Audie Award winner and one of my personal favorite audiobook performers.

It Calls You Back

It Calls You Back is Luis Rodriguez's second memoir, following Always Running. In this audiobook, Rodriguez recalls his final days in prison as a teenager and his struggle with heroin addiction and alcohol. But just as he begins to see a light at the end of the tunnel for his own fight against addiction and criminal life, Rodriguez realizes that he must now fight to make sure his son doesn't follow down the same path.

Last Night I Sang to the Monster

The final audiobook on this list is another powerful work of fiction. By the author of the best-selling Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Last Night I Sang to the Monster tells the story of 18-year-old Zach, a bright young student who has somehow found himself in an addiction recovery center rather than in high school. Only he has no recollection of how he got there—and he's not sure he wants to remember either. Accomplished actor MacLeod Andrews narrates Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s powerful, beautifully written novel.


Of course, books and audiobooks are just one component in your recovery toolkit. If you are struggling with addiction, depression, anxiety, or need help with any other mental substance abuse or health-related issues, be sure to reach out to a professional. Your doctor can provide guidance on the best way to quit an addictive substance safely.

If you are in the United States, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Hotline: 1-800-622-HELP. They are available to answer your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Or visit their website at samhsa.gov. This service is completely confidential, and no one will ask you to divulge any personal information.

Alternately, you can reach out to the following organizations:

  • The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): 1-800-950-NAMI, or text “NAMI” to 741741

  • The Mental Health America (MHA) Hotline: text “MHA” to 741741

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255; live online chat available at suicidepreventionlifeline.org

  • Crisis Text Line: text “CONNECT” to 741741

  • Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255

  • Teen Line: 1-310-855-4673. Or text “TEXT TEEN” to 839863

  • National Eating Disorders (NEDA) Helpline: 1-800-931-2237

  • Trans Lifeline: 1-877-565-8860


Emily Martin earned her Ph.D. at the University of Southern Mississippi. She also works as a contributor for Book Riot and as a blogger/podcaster at Book Squad Goals.

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