11 Powerful Stories of Addiction and What Comes After

Millions of Americans are currently suffering from addiction, and countless more have lost their lives or a loved one to the disease. The following novels and memoirs are by turns harrowing, painful, and even humorous—and offer an ultimately hopeful perspective on the road to recovery and redemption that can follow one’s battle with addiction.

by Augusten Burroughs

When Augusten Burroughs woke up to an apartment so filled with glass bottles that he couldn’t forge a path through his living room, he was forced to confront his alcoholism. Burroughs, at risk of losing his job, landed in rehab, and after his thirty days began to reckon with his same drunken Manhattan life—and having to live it sober.

by William S. Burroughs

In William S. Burroughs’s (no relation to Augusten) debut novel and cult classic, he fictionalizes his experiences using and peddling heroin in the 1950s into an engrossing work that dispatches its readers into the underworld of post-war America.

by Mary Karr

From the beloved author of THE LIARS’ CLUB, this memoir follows the self-professed black-belt sinner’s descent into the inferno of alcoholism and madness—and her astonishing resurrection.

Go Ask Alice
by Anonymous

A classic cautionary tale, this is the harrowing anonymous account of a teenager’s descent into addiction, recounted in the form of increasingly foreboding diary entries.

by Koren Zailckas

Eye-opening and utterly gripping, Koren Zailckas’s story is that of thousands of girls like her who are not alcoholics—yet—but who routinely use booze as a shortcut to courage and a stand-in for good judgment. Following her from her first sip of alcohol at fourteen to her decision to stop drinking in her early twenties, SMASHED is an astonishing literary debut.

by Sarah Hepola

For Sarah Hepola, alcohol was “the gasoline of all adventure.” But when she began to black out with increasing frequency, she was forced to confront the repercussions of her drinking. This memoir of unblinking honesty and poignant, laugh-out-loud humor is the story of a woman stumbling into a new kind of adventure: the sober life she never wanted.

The Night of the Gun
by David Carr

From the late journalist David Carr, this is a revelatory memoir of his years as an addict, chronicling his journey from crackhouse regular to columnist for The New York Times.

The Glass Castle
by Jeannette Walls

Jeannette Walls and her three siblings spent much of their childhood fending for themselves in a dismal West Virginia mining town, neglected by their alcoholic father and flighty mother. Hers is a story of triumph against all odds, but also a tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that, despite its profound flaws, gave her the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.

by Nic Sheff

This New York Times bestselling memoir of a young man’s addiction to methamphetamine tells a raw, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful tale of the road from relapse to recovery.

Carry On, Warrior
by Glennon Doyle Melton

Glennon Doyle Melton knows what it means to embrace both the messy and beautiful parts of herself. In this hilarious and poignant collection of essays drawing on her personal struggles with addiction, motherhood, and marriage, she offers advice to readers for building better lives in our hearts, homes, and communities.

Leaving Dirty Jersey
by James Salant

In stark prose infused with heartbreaking insight, wicked humor, and complete veracity, Salant provides graphic descriptions of life on crystal meth - He details the slang, the scams, the endless craving, the paranoia and, psychoses, and weaves them into a narrative that is breathtakingly honest and authentic. A compulsively readable, superbly told story that is shocking precisely because it could happen to almost anyone.