21 Songs About Addiction, Substance Abuse, and Recovery

Rachel Sharpe

Addiction can be hard to break out of. Millions of people have struggled with addiction and substance abuse over their lives. Many people have used music to relate to their pain to help them recover from their addiction. In this article, we’re going to share songs about addiction, substance abuse, and recovery that you can listen to as you work to overcome your suffering.

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21 Songs About Addiction, Substance Abuse, and Recovery

1. Semi-Charmed Life by Third Eye Blind

This song about addiction is about being addicted to crystal meth. Third Eye Blind sings, “I was taking sips of it through my nose…doing crystal meth will lift you up until you break.” It’s a realistic reminder that the highs you experience from addiction are temporary. Eventually, reality sets in and you’re low again and possibly even worse off. There’s a longing to go back to this moment of happiness. It’s almost as if the drug can artificially get you there when you can’t get there on your own. However, you can find happiness without drugs, you will find “something else to get you through this life.”

​​https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=beINamVRGy4

2. The A Team by Ed Sheeran

This addiction song is one where Ed Sheeran sings, “white lips, pale face, breathing in the snowflakes, burnt lungs, sour taste,” which describes the look of a person who struggles with substance abuse. The line, “go mad for a couple grams” is about how addiction can bring out the anxiety and stress over making sure you have enough drugs. It could also be interpreted as being mad about not getting the amount of drugs you asked for. At the end of the day, all you really want is “hoping for a better life.”

3. Cleaning Out My Closet by Eminem

In this song about addiction Eminem cleans out his closet by sharing some of his personal struggles in his life. However, the person suffering from substance abuse in this song isn’t Eminem himself but his mother. In one verse he raps, “just try to witness your mom poppin’ prescription pills in the kitchen” His experience with his mom’s addiction had a negative imprint on his life. He shares that he spent his “whole life believing [he] was sick when [he] wasn’t.”

4. Can’t Feel My Face by The Weeknd

This song about substance abuse is all about how The Weeknd knows that doing drugs will “be the death of [him], but at least we’ll both be numb.” His experience with drugs is positive because it brings out the “best of [him].” The drugs help him with anxiety and loneliness. While he loves doing drugs he still has a strong understanding that the “worst is yet to come.” There’s a sense that The Weeknd understands the risks of taking drugs but seems to dismiss them for his need on how they help him.

5. Rehab by Amy Winehouse

Songs about addiction don’t always have a positive ending. In her hit single “Rehab” Amy Winehouse sings about how she refused to go to rehab for her addiction. She didn’t want to spend 70 days in a rehab facility to get clean. She wanted to continue drinking alcohol because she was scared she would “lose [her] baby.” Unfortunately, while this song made Amy Winehouse a famous singer, the story eventually led to her demise when she died of alcohol poisoning on July 23, 2011. The lesson this teaches is that rehab for alcohol addiction is the best option. 

6. Sober by Pink

Sober is a song about addiction where Pink wonders how she can feel as good as she does when she’s high when she’s sober. Drugs felt like her safe place as there’s “no pain inside, you’re my protection.” The song highlights how you can lose yourself in your addiction. Fortunately, Pink eventually overcame her drug addiction. Losing her friend to heroin overdose when she was a teenager was an eye-opening moment for her. It’s common to go through the stages of grief after losing a loved one to addiction. Pink shows that overcoming a drug addiction is possible. 

7. Fallen by Sarah McLachlan

Fallen by Sarah McLachlan can be a relatable song for someone recovering from addiction. It’s all about having to live in the aftermath of your mistakes. And how people tell you “I told you so” when you just want to be supported and heard. “It’s the bitter taste of losing everything” feels relatable when you’ve made past mistakes that seem to haunt you. You’re afraid of moving forward because your past has played such a big role in your life. The powerful line “they turn their heads embarrassed, pretend that they don’t see, but it’s one missed step, one slip before you know it” is all about how people shame those with addiction instead of supporting them. 

8. Breaking the Habit by Linkin Park

Breaking The Habit is all about the mental agony of addiction. The singer wants to break the habit tonight because they don’t know why they’re always “instigating” and “saying what [they] don’t mean.” They’re always angry dealing with their “wounds” from their memories. The song about addiction is all about the emotional turmoil that they go through as it paints a vivid description of addiction and self-harm. 

9. Dancing With The Devil by Demi Lovato

This song about substance abuse starts off with “It’s just a little wine, I’ll be fine” which is how addiction always starts. Demi pleads, “I’ve been good, don’t I deserve it? I think I earned it, feels like it’s worth it” trying to show that alcohol is a reward for good behavior for her. Unfortunately, the dark chorus talks about how she danced with the devil and nearly ended up dying. Demi Lovato had three strokes and a heart attack in 2018 following an overdose of opiods, heroin, and fentanyl. 

10. This Is Me Trying by Taylor Swift

This Is Me Trying is a song about addiction recovery. It’s about how you emotionally drop after giving up drugs and alcohol. The powerful and uplifting song is about how despite all their struggles and hopelessness, they’re still trying. “They told me all my cages were mental, so I got wasted like my potential,” is about how people use alcohol to deal with their problems. But in the end, “pouring out my heart to a stranger. But I didn’t pour the whiskey” shows that they eventually figured out how to resist the temptation because “at least [they’re] trying.”

11. Circle The Drain by Katy Perry

Circle The Drain is about Katy Perry’s experience dating an addict. She thought she could be the person who changes him but when she realizes she can’t she refuses to be the person to “watch [him] go down.” Ultimately, the person does drugs all the time, even when there’s “nothing to celebrate.” She wants the person to be her lover and partner instead of acting like his mother. She recognizes that no matter how much she wants to save him she can’t because that’s in his control only. 

12. Because I Got High by Afroman

This song about addiction is all about the consequences of being high. The person could’ve done all sorts of things but chose to get high instead. As the song goes on the things he could’ve done get more severe with deeper consequences. This highlights how addiction always gets worse with time. Eventually, he loses his kids and wife because of the severity of the consequences that came all because he was high. Ultimately, getting high caused his life to get worse but he still couldn’t stop getting high. 

13. I Took A Pill In Ibiza by Mike Posner

Mike Posner shares his experience with drugs in this song about substance abuse called I Took A Pill In Ibiza. He only did drugs to prove to “Avicii [he] was cool” but he felt so much worse after he had sobered up. This song about addiction is sad in nature because the person ends up regretting being high because of the uncertainty that life brings. Mike Posner feels lonelier and tends to be “stuck on that stage singing, all I know are sad songs.” He sings about how he blew his one shot for success and can’t maintain a relationship, which makes his life harder. 

14. Hurt by Nine Inch Nails

This song about addiction is about how drugs can make life feel unreal. We hurt ourselves to remind ourselves of what’s real and in this case it’s the pain you feel. While you try to kill the pain, it’s impossible because you still have your negative thoughts and memories replaying in your mind. It’s about how with drugs you lose everyone in your life eventually. But this song about addiction ends on a positive note, “If I could start again…I would keep myself, I would find a way.”

15. Chandelier by Sia

Songs about alcohol addiction like Sia’s Chandelier are all about the turmoil you feel that causes you to drink more. She’s “holding on for dear life” which causes her to keep chugging drinks. She’s gonna “feel [her] tears as they dry” which means that she might be feeling depressed. “Keep my glass full til morning light” is a lyric that describes that you can’t stop drinking because you’re not ready to face your problems. When the night is over and “sun is up, [Sia’s] a mess” because reality and real living comes back. There’s a feeling of “shame” which drives you back to drinking. 

16. Recover by Natasha Bedingfield

This song about recovery called Recover by Natasha Bedingfield is all about “how the worst is behind” and eventually you will recover from “all those fires we’ve been walking through.” She sings about how you shouldn’t be afraid of the past or what mistakes you’ve made. You should be proud of what you’ve done to move forward towards recovery when she sings, “Look what we’ve done, how far we’ve come.”

17. It Ain’t Me – Kygo and Selena Gomez 

This song about addiction is about alcohol addiction from the perspective of the addict’s loved ones. When an addict is out all night and doesn’t come home, it can be difficult for the loved ones who realize that they deserve to be treated better. Selena Gomez asserts that it won’t be her to help you through “the darkside of the morning” or “drive you home when you’re drunk and all alone.” 

18. Wise Up by Aimee Mann

This song about addiction is from the movie Magnolia which covers the topic of addiction in it. The lyrics remind you that “it’s not going to stop until you wise up” and that using alcohol as a cure to your problems isn’t going to work. You might not be able to “stand” everything you’re facing but alcohol isn’t the coping mechanism to use. In the end, Aimee Mann sings “it’s not going to stop, so just give up” which could be interpreted in many ways. Giving up alcohol is a positive way to frame the last line in the song. 

19. Walk the Line by Johnny Cash

Walking the line is an expression for addicts because they can’t walk straight lines when drunk. This song about addiction can be interpreted in a myriad of ways. Johnny Cash has a history of alcohol addiction and it could be interpreted as him walking the line because he finally found the love of his life. “Because you’re mine, I walk the line” proves that he’s staying within boundaries in his marriage. 

20. Sober by Kelly Clarkson

This song about recovery is all about how “three months and I’m still sober.” It’s a positive song about how you’re trying to recover from your addiction. You’ve been “pick[ing] all [your] weeds, but kept the flowers” so you’re making positive changes in your life. You’ve been removing the bad things while keeping the good. It’s all about the things you’ve accomplished in the past three months while sober like “still standing here,” “breathing,” and “I still am.” 

21. Nighttrain by Guns N’ Roses

Finally, this song about addiction is called Nighttrain by Guns N’ Roses. The lyrics “I’m on the nighttrain, bottoms up, I’m on the nighttrain, fill my cup, I’m on the nighttrain, ready to crash and burn, I never learn” highlights the negative consequences of getting drunk. Drinking alcohol every night leads to bad things happening but you still keep making the same mistake repeatedly. 

Conclusion

These songs about addiction, substance abuse, and recovery can play a huge role if you or someone you love suffers from addiction. They can help you relate to the pain of addiction and ultimately work towards recovering from it too. If you’re suffering from addiction, find a therapist or counsellor who can help you minimize your suffering and recommend someone to help you recover from your addiction. The pain you feel today doesn’t need to last a lifetime. You deserve to be happy and free from all pain. Take that first step towards recovery. 

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