8 Powerful Addiction Memoirs that Sober People Love

Dylan Fisher


Nov 02, 2023

A close-up of six books with colored covers lying on their sides in a stack.

For many people struggling with addiction, one of the hardest parts is the feeling of isolation that can come along with it. “How come everyone else can drink normally?” “I can’t have fun without a drink.” “If I stop drinking, my life will be boring”

It’s understandable to feel alone and like no one can relate to your addiction. Luckily, there’s a whole genre of books that prove you are not the only one who has battled addiction.

Addiction and recovery memoirs are great reminders that you are not alone and that many, many others have gone down the difficult road to sobriety. In addition to personal stories, many of these books delve deep into the personal and societal psychology of drinking and drug use. They offer practical guides on why we drink — and how we stop. 

Check out our picks for the best addiction and recovery memoirs. 

1. “This Naked Mind: Control Alcohol, Find Freedom, Discover Happiness & Change Your Life

by Annie Grace

Best-selling author and podcast host Annie Grace explores the hurdles of sobriety from multiple angles. “This Naked Mind” tackles the cultural and social norms of drinking, explores the ever-presence of alcohol in most industries (e.g. networking happy hours), and delves into the psychological and neurological aspects of alcohol dependence. This book is great for those struggling to separate alcohol from their social and/or work lives

If this book resonates with you, be sure to check out Grace’s podcast of the same name, This Naked Mind, where she and guests continue to dissect alcohol’s grasp on our lives and culture.

Instagram: @thisnakedmind

2. “The Sober Diaries: How One Woman Stopped Drinking and Started Living

by Clare Pooley

Clare Pooley left her position at one of the world’s largest advertising agencies to focus on raising her three children. What was meant to be a positive and happy change led to depression, which she self-medicated with drinking, eventually consuming over a bottle of wine a day.

Pooley walks us through a year of her life spent battling alcohol addiction and a recent breast cancer diagnosis, two battles — spoiler alert! — that she ends up winning. Alongside this deeply personal story, she includes scientific research and a wealth of advice, including how to recognize if you have alcohol use disorder (AUD) and how to navigate the social pressures that come with a life of sobriety.

Instagram: @clare_pooley

3. “God and Starbucks: An NBA Superstar's Journey Through Addiction and Recovery

by Vin Baker

Vin Baker is a man of many titles: four-time NBA all-star, Olympic gold medalist, drug user, and alcoholic. In his memoir, Baker details how he went from a multimillionaire NBA player who had convinced himself he played better under the influence to losing it all and becoming the manager of a Starbucks.

This is the story of someone who had a dream life that turned into a nightmare. Baker’s story is proof that no matter how low you get, you can always pick yourself up and get back in the fight. Something of note: Since the book’s publication, Vin Baker was named assistant coach to the Milwaukee Bucks, who he helped guide to the 2021 championships.

4. “We Are the Luckiest: The Surprising Magic of a Sober Life

by Laura McKowen

The last thing Laura McKowen wanted to be was sober. Shortly after accepting she had a problem with alcohol, she thought a lot about how some people are lucky enough to be able to drink normally without it controlling their life. 

But — twist! — early into her sobriety, she realized that she was actually the lucky one. Thanks to an alcohol- and drug-free life, McKowen now feels all of her feelings, no longer has to balance multiple lies, and is fully present with her daughter. In short, she now gets to live an authentic life. And that, to her, is the luckiest thing of all.

In addition to authoring two books (her second comes out March 2023), McKowen hosts the Tell Me Something True podcast.

Instagram: @laura_mckowen

5. “I'm Black and I’m Sober: A Minister's Daughter Tells Her Story about Fighting the Disease of Alcoholism--And Winning

by Chaney Allen

Unfortunately, there are not many sobriety memoirs written by people of color. I’m Black and I’m Sober is groundbreaking: it is the first autobiography written by a Black woman in recovery. Originally published in 1978, Allen recounts being raised by a strict minister in Alabama during the depression and making her way to Cincinnati, where she found motherhood and a life ruled by substance misuse. This book offers a firsthand account of the added hurdles of prejudice and discrimination that are often faced by Black people within and outside of their community on a journey to sobriety.

6. “Quit Like a Woman: The Radical Choice to Not Drink in a Culture Obsessed with Alcohol

by Holly Whitaker

In this memoir, Holly Whitaker poses an important question: why is choosing not to drink often seen as odd while the fact that alcohol is pretty much everywhere is rarely questioned? As she points out, we drink at baby showers, office parties, book clubs, even funerals. Alcohol consumption is now intertwined with being social, and not partaking can make you feel like an outsider.

Whitaker’s tale of her path to sobriety also offers enlightenment on the ubiquitousness of alcohol in our culture, how alcohol companies target women, and how this led to her founding The Tempest, a woman-centric recovery program that focuses on the root cause of alcohol addiction. If you’re looking to break free of the social pressure of cocktails and bar hopping, this is the book for you.

Instagram: @holly

7. “Dry

by Augusten Burroughs

Augusten Burroughs’ memoir covers a decade-long battle with sobriety, with a variety of wins and losses along the way. During his days as a young Manhattanite working in advertising, he tried everything to hide his constant drinking, including spraying cologne on his tongue. 

Finally, at the behest of his coworkers and boss, he ends up in a rehab that specifically caters to gay and lesbian patients. Once his 30 days are up, he has to figure out how to return to his New York City lifestyle sans alcohol. Burroughs’ story is one of triumph and loss, professional success and personal failure, finding your way to sobriety, falling into relapse, and starting all over again.

Instagram: @AugustenBurroughs

8. “The Sober Lush: A Hedonist's Guide to Living a Decadent, Adventurous, Soulful Life--Alcohol Free

by Amanda Eyre Ward and Jardine Libaire

Authors Amanda Eyre Ward and Jardine Libraire met shortly after getting sober. They quickly became friends, bonding over their shared desire for an exciting, outside-the-lines life. But they struggled with how to have that life without alcohol. Most of their friends spent their weekends living the “rose all day” lifestyle, and every first date wanted to meet at a bar. Wondering if you need a drink to live a rich, colorful life? Ward and Libaire prove you don’t.

This book is a guide on how to literally be a sober lush. They encourage you to embrace the sober “Irish exit,” leaving the party early to enjoy a starlit stroll home. It includes recipes for zero-proof cocktails for all seasons and has tips for navigating the dating scene while completely sober. If you’re feeling down about “missing out” on life if you cut back on alcohol or got sober, read this book. Ward and Libaire show you how to get intoxicated, but with life instead of alcohol.

Instagram: @amandaeyreward and @jardinelibaireprojects

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The bottom line

Admitting you have a problem — not to mention actually getting sober — is no small feat. Reading a book while trying to get sober? That’s impressive! Reading 8 books?! Only joking. There’s no award for “Most Sobriety Memoirs Read,” so read them for yourself — let their wisdom be its own award (I can feel your eye rolls. I'm sorry.).

But seriously, I hope at least one of these memoirs speaks to you. Beyond the camaraderie of knowing you’re not alone, these books offer practical guidance about the road to sobriety (or your road to changing your relationship with drugs and alcohol). You are not alone, you are not broken, and there is help. 

About The Author

Dylan is a comedian, actor, and writer based in Los Angeles. You can follow him on Instagram @DyliciousFisher.

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