105 Powerful Songs About Addiction and Recovery

songs about addiction and recovery

105 Songs About drugs, alcohol and substance abuse

Music speaks to all of us in different ways and is undoubtedly linked to effecting our mood and behaviours, but songs about addiction and recovery are even more powerful.

Whether that’s listening to upbeat songs while we hit the gym, love ballads to reflect on a relationship, or uplifting songs to help pull us out of a particularly low mood.

This list of songs about addiction and recovery can speak to everyone too, regardless of whether we have lived those experiences ourselves.

Through each artist’s talent, honesty and raw portrayals of the damage they have either experienced first-hand, or witnessed in other people’s substance use disorders, these popular songs send a powerful message and cautionary tale about drink and drug use, to anyone who listens to them.

10 Moving Songs About Addiction And Recovery

1. ‘Otherside’ - Macklemore X Ryan Lewis

‘Otherside’ is a story by Macklemore (Ben Haggeryty’s) personal life, sharing his experiences with addiction and drug abuse. In this heart-felt track, he pleads with his fans, begging them to learn from his own mistakes. 

Ben’s past was rife with addiction, he is open and honest about living in his parents basement at the age of 25, only being driven by getting more drugs each day, a level of honesty that we rarely find in famous musicians.

Songs about addiction and recovery
Songs about addiction and recovery

2. ‘Sober’ - Kelly Clarkson

This song was written by Kelly Clarkson in 2007.

Although Kelly herself is not an alcoholic, she uses alcohol addiction as a metaphor for the addictions that we can all face in day-to-day life. 

‘Sober’ tells the story of a woman who is 3-months sober, on her journey to addiction recovery, removing the negative influences and people from her life so that she can concentrate on her own health and well-being, a message that many listeners could no doubt benefit from! 

Songs about addiction and recovery
Songs about addiction and recovery

3. ‘Rehab‘ - Amy Winehouse

Arguably one of the most iconic addiction songs of all time, ‘Rehab’, is about the singer’s relationship with alcohol. 

Written in 2006, this hit is focused on the denial of a present addiction and alcohol abuse, insisting that her relationship with drink isn’t that bad and that she drinks through fear of a pending break-up of a romantic relationship with her soulmate – a story that you can watch play-out in the music video. 

This song was inspired by a visit to rehab by Amy Winehouse for her addiction treatment, which lasted just 15 minutes, which she did to show her record label at the time that she attended. 

Tragically, Amy Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning in 2011 at the age of just 27.

Rolling Stone magazine named this one of their ‘Greatest Songs of all time’, and if you’ve heard it, it’s not hard to see why.

4. ‘Sober’ - Demi Lovato

Two of the early lyrics, ‘Wake me when the shakes are gone’ and ‘call me when it’s over and myself has re-appeared’ really do set the scene for this emotional and heartfelt song. 

As a recovering addict, the singer is very open and honest about her drink and drug addictions, with the chorus saying how she is ‘not sober anymore’.

Demi Lovato apologizes to her parents, her fans and lastly in the song, to herself.

Songs about addiction and recovery
Songs about addiction and recovery

5. ‘It's Been Awhile’ - Staind

In this 2001 powerful song, the singer is speaking to an old love who he hurt during tough times, with his addictions and is apologizing.

‘It’s been a while is the repeating theme in the song. A while since he did not depend on drink and drugs, a while since he could stand alone without a drink.

A powerful and gritty track, with relatable themes, even for those without an alcohol problem or addiction. 

Songs about addiction and recovery
Songs about addiction and recovery

6. ‘The Needle and The Damage Done’ - Neil Young

Released in 1972, this song is backed throughout with acoustic guitar and describes the damage caused by heroin addiction. 

In the song’s lyrics, Neil Young talks about a close friend he lost through a drug overdose and the ‘damage done.’ 

Songs about addiction and recovery
Songs about addiction and recovery

“I caught you knockin’ at my cellar door

I love you, baby, can I have some more?

Ooh, ooh, the damage done

I hit the city and I lost my band

I watched the needle take another man

Gone, gone, the damage done

I sing the song because I love the man

I know that some of you don’t understand

Milk blood to keep from running out

I’ve seen the needle and the damage done

A little part of it in everyone

But every junkie’s like a settin’ sun”

7. ‘Under The Bridge’ - Red Hot Chili Peppers

This is no doubt a standout song of the 20th Century, with a guitar riff that has been covered many times since. 

Lead singer, Anthony Kiedis talks about drug addictions he has been facing for a large part of his life. 

‘I don’t ever wanna feel like I did that day, take me to the place I love, take me all the way’, a poignant reflection by the singer on his experience of drugs.

8. ‘Amazing’ - Aerosmith

This power ballad, released in 1993, describes the desperation of a life of personal pain, drugs, and sin.

The narrator talks about how he ‘lost his grip’ and surrounded himself by the wrong people, finding it hard to see a way out of the life he was living.

There is a positive tone to the song, as it goes on to say how amazing it feels to finally see a way out and that he is praying for others to find their way through their addictions.

9. ‘Recover’ - Natasha Bedingfield

In what first seems like a classic love song, the artist speaks to those recovering from addiction.

Uplifting and heartfelt in tone, in this great song, Natasha Bedingfield is saying ‘we will recover’ and ‘the worst is over’, pointing to a light at the end of the tunnel, for anyone struggling with their addictions. 

This compelling and truly moving song is undoubtedly relatable by many.

Songs about addiction and recovery
Songs about addiction and recovery

10. ‘Sister Morphine’ - Rolling Stones

A band that is synonymous with the rock and roll, party lifestyle, Rolling Stones ‘Sister Morphine’ was partially written by Jagger’s then-girlfriend, Marianne Faithfull about her own addiction to Heroin.

The song talks about an ongoing struggle with one of the strongest opioids ever made and takes its place on the album, ‘Sticky Fingers,’ a whole album based on drug addiction. 

Their album contains both tracks that are uplifting in tone alongside tracks pointing to defeat.

7 Powerful Songs About Addiction And Recovery

1. ‘Fallen’ - Sarah McLachlan

Such is the power of the song, ‘Fallen’ was nominated for a Grammy award in 2004. 

Sarah Mclachlan acknowledges that she’s made some big mistakes, singing about how she got caught up with the wrong crowd, and admitting she has messed up.

The song is a bid for redemption, as she is determined to find her way back to the right path and beyond her hard times, despite being rejected by her friends, who are embarrassed by her addictions. 

2. ‘Master of Puppets’ - Metallica

In one of the most iconic Metallica songs, singer James Hetfield writes about his own battles with alcohol and cocaine.

It talks about drugs being the ‘Master’ and how they soon take control, ‘pulling your strings’ until you are no longer in control of your own life.

Pain, misery and life crumbling around you, are all referred to in this classic Metallica track, at one point Hetfiled even states that the ‘Master’ will ‘help you die’.  

The song was even preserved in the National Recording Registry by the U.S. Library of Congress.

3. ‘Breaking the Habit’ - Linkin Park

The first sentence of this Linkin Park song, “memories consume like opening the wound and picking me apart again” sets the scene. 

This fast-paced track explores the struggle of trying to break the habit of addiction and that no matter what they try, it always seems that their “cure” wins the battle every time.

The lyrics portray a constant wrestle between addiction and the bid to free himself from it.

4. ‘The A-Team’ Ed Sheeran

Songs about addiction and recovery
Songs about addiction and recovery

Ed Sheeran visited a homeless shelter and listened to the life stories of those staying there, following his  visit, he wrote this song in 2011, about a prostitute addicted to heroin. 

The woman in his song has been on the streets since she was 18 and a lifetime of addiction and prostitution is taking its toll on this woman’s body and soul. A life that is now a cycle that she cannot break free from.

‘Her face seems, slowly sinking, wasting…’

5. ‘Circle the Drain’ - Katy Perry

This hit song candidly focuses on a former lover’s drug-addiction and the strains it put on both of them.

Following its release, several media outlets reported it to have been inspired by her former relationship with Travie McCoy. 

Katy Perry summarized ‘Circle the Drain’ herself, in an interview with Q Magazine in 2011;

“‘Circle The Drain’ is about having a boyfriend self-destructing. I have to tell him, ‘I’m not your f–king mother! All of the songs are from my diary but what I was really talking about is that ‘Mother Syndrome’ women have, thinking that we’ll be the one to save the person we love, and that’s why we stay with them even while they’re circling the drain.

At some point it’s time to flush or time to s–t and take care of yourself.”

6. ‘Sheila’ - Jamie T

In an album that was recorded and produced from the British artists’ bedroom, ‘Sheila’ follows the story of a girl, her friends and their relationship with alcohol, as they spiral into a life of excessive drinking and addiction.

The song refers to a common drinking culture, with some darker undertones of domestic abuse and teenage pregnancy; a cautionary tale that ultimately results in death.

7. ‘Save You’ - Pearl Jam

Released in 2011, this song is about someone that’s trying to save a friend who is battling their addictions.

It’s widely believed that ‘Save You’ was inspired by the real-life struggles and death of Layne Staley, the Alice in Chains singer, but Vedder of Pearl Jam instead indicates that the song was inspired by more than one real-life situation.

“Gonna save you fucker, not gonna lose you
Feeling cocky and strong, can’t let you go,
Too important to me

Too important to us, we’d be lost without you
Baby, let yourself fall, I’m right below you now

And fuck me if I say something you don’t want to hear
And fuck if you only hear what you want to hear
Fuck me if I care, but I’m not leaving here

You helped me when I was down, I’ll help when you’re down
Why are you hitting yourself, c’mon hit me instead…”

More Songs About Addiction and Recovery

18. The Last Fight – Bullet for My Valentine

19. Animal That I Have Become – Three Days Grace

20. Wise Up – Aimee Mann

21. Man On The Rocks – Mike Oldfield

22. Zombie – We As Human

23. Don’t Leave Home – Dido

24. Running To Stand Still – U2

25. Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! That Cigarette – Tex Williams

26. Medicine – Biffy Clyro

27. Habit – Pearl Jam

28. Starting Over – Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

29. Wine Into Water T. – Graham Brown

30. Captain Jack – Billy Joel

31. Powder Blue – Elbow

32. One Day At A Time – Joe Walsh

33. John Doe – B.o.B (featuring Priscilla)

34. What I Can’t Put Down – Jon Pardi

35. That Smell – Lynyrd Skynyrd

36. It Don’t Matter – Rehab

37. Demons – Kenny Chesney

38. Monkey – George Michael

39. My Deliverer – Mandisa

40. Stone Cold Sober – Brantley Gilbert

41. Hurt – Johnny Cash

42. Hot Beer and Cold Women – Randy Houser

43. Whiskey on My Breath – Love and Theft

44. Sober – P!nk

45. Drugs Or Jesus – Tim McGraw

46. You Found Me – The Fray

47. She Talks To Angels – The Black Crowes

48. Song To Say Goodbye – Placebo

49. Devil In a Bottle – Lynyrd Skynyrd

50. Gin Bottle Blues – Lightnin’ Hopkins

51. Waiting Around to Die – Townes Van Zandt

52. The Moonshiner – Uncle Tupelo

53. Bleeding Me – Metallica

54. The Real You – Three Days Grace

55. Painkiller – Three Days Grace

56. Drug Dealer – Mackelmore (featuring Ariana DeBoo)

57. Lithium – Nirvana

58. Down a Hole – Alice in Chains

59. Hate Me – Blue October

60. Drinkin’ Problem – Midland

61. Wasted – Carrie Underwood

62. Heavy – Linkin Park

63. Oxycontin Blues – Steve Earle

Songs About Addiction
Songs about addiction and recovery

64. Recovery – James Arthur

65. S.O.B. – Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats

66. Another Empty Bottle – Katy McAllister

67. Hey, You Got Drugs? – Tove Lo

68. Cheap Whiskey – Martina McBride

69. Drug Addiction – Colicchie

70. Save Me From Myself – Brian “Head” Welch

71. Relapse – Anna Clendening

72. Lost Love and Addiction – Hollohan

73. You Don’t Get Me High Anymore – Three Days Grace

74. If I Drink This Beer – Nashville Cast (featuring Chris Carmack & Will Chase)

75. Bottom of a Bottle – Smile Empty Soul

76. Drugs or Me – Jimmy Eat World

77. The Drugs Don’t Work – The Verve

78. Don’t Wait for Me – Josh Garrels

79. Who I am Hates Who I’ve Been – Relient K

80. Breaking the Habit – Linkin Park

81. HELP – Papa Roach

82. The Man I Was – Lucero

83. Sober Saturday Night – Chris Young (featuring Vince Gill)

84. Down Where the Drunkards Roll – Richard and Linda Thompson

85. Needle of Death – Bert Jansch

86. God of Wine – Third Eye Blind

87. Nutshell – Alice in Chains

88. Life by the Drop – Stevie Ray Vaughn

89. Bloodstream – The Chainsmokers

90. I Surrender – The Adverts

91. Miracle – Rise Against

92. Habits (Stay High) – Tove Lo

93. Against Me – Thrash Unreal

94. Water in His Wine Glass – Maddie & Tae

95. Heaven Was a Drink of Wine – Merle Haggard

96. Runaway –  Ed Sheeran

97. Sober – Tool

98. Life in the Fast Lane – Eagles

99. Tightrope – Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble

100. Baker Street – Gerry Rafferty

101. Wall of Denial – Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble

102. You Can Count on Me – Trophy Eyes

103. Addiction – Counterfeit

104. Chemical Prisoner – Falling in Reverse

105. Workin’ On – Colt Ford