The future of music

30 Songs About Addiction, Abuse & Recovery

December 11, 2023
songs about addiction

I’ve carefully selected songs about addiction, abuse, and recovery, each one a poignant reflection on the struggles and triumphs of these deeply personal journeys.

This article offers a powerful soundtrack that resonates with the resilience and hope found in the path to healing.

Top songs about addiction, abuse & recovery

  • “Rehab” – Amy Winehouse
  • “Whiskey Lullaby” – Brad Paisley
  • “The A Team” – Ed Sheeran
  • “Sober” – Kelly Clarkson
  • “Because I Got High” – Afroman
  • “Wasted” – Carrie Underwood
  • “Déjà Vu” – Eminem
  • “Recovery” – James Arthur
  • “That’s Why I’m Here” – Kenny Chesney
  • “this is me trying” – Taylor Swift

1. “Rehab” – Amy Winehouse

We all know about Amy Winehouse’s terrible addiction issue, which eventually cut short her life in 2011 at the tender age of 27.

And in her signature autobiographical track, the singer narrates her struggles with alcohol. 

Surprisingly, she seems unbothered about her addiction issue and refuses to go to a rehabilitation center.

‘Rehab’ was part of Amy’s second and last studio album, ‘Back to Black,’ becoming her first ever single to appear on the top 10 of the US Billboard Hot 100 Chart. 

2. “Whiskey Lullaby” – Brad Paisley 

‘Whiskey Lullaby’ is a duet by Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss, where they talk about a man who drinks to death after returning from war only to find her significant other with another guy. 

Presumably out of guilt, the woman also commits suicide, drinking to death with the man’s picture in her hands.

If you are like many pop song lovers, you will love Brad Paisley’s vocals in this track, yet again confirming him as one of the greatest country artists to ever do it. 

‘Whiskey Lullaby’ reached #3 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks charts and #41 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. 

3. “The A Team” – Ed Sheeran 

Nobody can dare question Ed Sheeran’s songwriting prowess. And his composition in the 2011 folk ballad confirms just as much. 

The song is a must-listen, beautifully compiled with thought-provoking lyrics that any drug addict will probably relate with. 

‘The A Team’ tells the tale of a young prostitute called Angel, who’s addicted to crack cocaine. She spends all her money on drugs despite being homeless. 

Ed Sheeran was inspired to write this song from his experiences in a homeless shelter.

As the singer’s debut single, ‘The A Team’ helped Ed Sheeran rise to prominence, earning him his first ever Grammy Nomination in 2012 in the Song Of The Year category. 

4. “Sober” – Kelly Clarkson 

In one of the best sober songs, Kelly Clarkson describes a woman relishing a new life after three months of sobriety. 

She desires a fresh start and cuts off all the toxic people in her life. The woman is proud of her recovery journey, unwilling to blame or compare herself to anyone. 

It’s probably worth remembering that Clarkson herself wasn’t an alcoholic and only used the term metaphorically to illustrate the tough battles in life. 

5. “Because I Got High” – Afroman 

“Because I Got High” will probably be every stoner’s official anthem because that’s really what it is all about. 

In the track, Afroman shares his personal experiences with marijuana, describing all the things he was unable to do because he was always high.

Talk about a one-hit wonder song that had a profound impact on music critics.

6. “Wasted” – Carrie Underwood 

‘Wasted’ is a 2007 song written by Hillary Lindsey, Troy Verges, and Mary Green and sung by the beautiful American singer Carrie Underwood. It is a mid-tempo song about alcoholism.

Carrie’s narration is about two characters who can’t seem to get over their addiction issues. In the song, you can almost feel the struggles of a man battling alcohol addiction. 

He can’t stop lamenting how alcohol has wasted his best years but now looks at life with a newly found optimism, determined to overcome the shackles of addiction. 

7. “Déjà Vu” – Eminem 

Whether he is the best rapper in history is up for debate. But one thing nobody can deny is Eminem’s natural ability to write flawless lyrics for just about anything. 

‘Déjà Vu’ portrays Eminem at probably his lowest point in life, battling addiction, gaining weight, and desperately fighting depression. 

The overall mood paints a sad picture, reminiscent of one of those songs sung at funerals.

The scene is perfectly placed to reflect Eminem’s life, describing a period where drug abuse almost ended his inspiring music career. 

8. “Recovery” – James Arthur 

‘Recovery’ is a 2013 song that describes James Arthur’s recovery and redemption journey.

In the song, the chart-topping singer offers a glimpse into the pain, struggles, and emotions of finding your way after hitting rock bottom. 

Like any recovering addict, James’ redemption journey is arduous. And the singer, not one to shy away from self-assessment, is willing to do everything to regain control of his life. 

The first verse, ‘I don’t wanna play this game no more,’ shows his desire to get over drugs and make a fresh start. 

9. “That’s Why I’m Here” – Kenny Chesney 

‘That’s Why I’m Here’ is Kenny Chesney’s narration about a guy battling alcoholism.

It is a track written by Shaye Smith and Mark Alan Springer as part of Kenny’s ‘I Will Stand’ album. 

Like a perfect Kenny Chesney track, the song has a happy ending when the struggling addict finally decides to quit alcohol and change his life for the better. 

The song gives optimism to anyone battling addiction, and it’s no surprise it had such a huge influence on the 90s music era.

Shortly after release, the song became Kenny’s sixth track to appear on the top 10 of the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, peaking at #2. 

10. “this is me trying” – Taylor Swift 

Does anyone know any of Taylor Swift’s tricks for producing hit song after hit song? The hard-hitting lyrics in this 2020 folklore will have any recovering alcohol addict thinking about their life. 

Taylor Swift lets us into her small world, showing her struggles with many things in life, one of which is addiction. 

A somber mood engulfs the song when Swift sings, ‘They told me all of my cages were mental/So I got wasted like all my potential.’ 

11. “Breaking The Habit” – Linkin Park

This song is about overcoming bad habits like drug and substance abuse. A theme of self-harm dominates the track, with the narrator describing the constant suicidal thoughts he’s had to battle. 

The vague lyrics make it easily relatable to different situations. And if you want a glimpse of what drug addicts go through, turn on the volume to listen to this 3-minute track.  

12. “Save Me” – Shinedown 

‘Save Me’ is one of the most popular addiction songs and the emotional torture that comes with it. The painful narration is about the guy’s wasted life. 

He admits that he needs help to overcome his addiction but just can’t do it all alone. 

13. “If Drinking Don’t Kill Me, Her Memory Will” – George Jones

This is an 80s song that reignited George Jones’ career after recording remarkable success in the mainstream market. 

George was known for his battles with cocaine and alcohol, constantly missing shows, and engaging the police in frequent chases because of his addiction problem. 

The lyrics are open to anyone’s interpretation.

And according to some, George merely wanted to show how a divorce or a breakup could affect someone’s life, with some never recovering from it. And who can’t relate that to drug and substance abuse? 

14. “Swimming Pools” – Kendrick Lamar 

The swimming pool title in Kendrick Lamar’s 2012 hip hop track is metaphoric, representing alcoholism and the imaginary pleasure that comes with it. 

As the song begins, Lamar recalls his childhood memories, talking about how heavy drinkers surrounded him. 

In the iconic 3-minute track, the singer describes how mental and physical pressure drives many people to alcohol. 

15. “That Smell” – Lynyrd Skynyrd 

‘That Smell” was written at the height of the rock band’s indulgence in drug and substance abuse.

The songwriter, Ronnie Van Zant, recalls that he was deep into heroin and cocaine use when writing the song. 

The narration includes Gary Rossington, the lead guitarist’s tragic car crash in Florida after heavy drinking. 

‘That Smell’ is merely a warning to anyone indulging in drug abuse about the possible consequences of excessive consumption.

This is perfectly summed up by the line, ‘tomorrow might not be here for you.’ 

16. “She Talks To Angels” – The Black Crowes

This song is about a dark place, describing a girl battling heroin addiction.

It is an acoustic song about the girl’s near-death experience because of her addiction.  

17. “Sober” – Pink 

Pink’s ‘Sober’ describes a girl going through a lot in life. But the most pressing issue is her desire to quit the addiction.

She knows that she is always looking for instant gratification and for something to kill the sorrows in her life.

She understands that the recovery journey is arduous, but she now has to make the tough decision to get control of her life. 

The song received generous reviews from music critics, even more so for the heartfelt lyrics.

And on the commercial front, it reached the top 10 in more than 13 countries, besides getting nominated for the 2010 Grammy Awards in the Best Female Pop Vocal Performance category. 

18. “One Day At A Time” – Joe Walsh

Recovery journeys are best taken one day at a time, just like Joe Walsh puts it in his 2012 country song

Joe pours it out in the track, describing his struggles with alcohol and cocaine addiction. Upon returning from a New Zealand trip in 1989, he sought help to overcome his addiction issues. 

He acknowledges the challenging journey but concedes that he has to do it the hard way to lead a sober life again. 

In one of the interviews with Billboard Magazine, the singer says, “I ran out of options, and I had to stop and learn how to do everything over again sober.” 

And if the lyrics are anything to go by, Joe’s might be one of the most inspiring redemption journeys for any recovering addict.

19. “It’s Been Awhile” – Staind 

For many addicts, the past only brings bad memories. And so was the American rock band’s case in this 2001 song. 

The recovery journey has been too long and painful for the narrator. And he can’t stop blaming himself for losing a woman who truly cared for him. 

He has finally overcome the self-destructive behavior and is looking to start afresh, this time as a sober man. This is what many drug addicts would boldly call scrutiny of the past. 

20. “Amazing” – Aerosmith 

You wouldn’t know this song is about a painful life of drugs until you listen to the lyrics. 

The power ballad is about collecting the pieces after reaching rock bottom.

While it didn’t receive massive airplay like most songs by the band, ‘Amazing’ definitely deserved more recognition from music critics around the world. 

The lyrics expound on the idea of gradually finding solutions to reclaim your life after a series of struggles.

This is a song about addiction recovery, and everyone who’s seen the light after decades in the dark will find the lyrics more relatable. 

21. “Fallen” – Sarah McLachlan 

“Fallen” is about acknowledging your mistakes and the lifetime of pain you’ve gone through because of such decisions.

Sarah McLachlan was already a fan favorite when she released this song, which catapulted her career to new heights. 

She accepts her mistakes and the pain it has caused her and her loved ones. She’s lost many friends and stagnated her growth.

But as she begins her road to recovery, she seeks nothing but hope. 

She takes full responsibility for her life and wants everyone to know that she’s doing her best to redeem herself.

While the lyrics don’t mention the specific mistakes, anybody can relate to the song, especially those battling life struggles like drug addiction. 

22. “Just As I Am” – Brantley Gilbert 

“Lord I’ve tried it by myself/Forget my pride, I need your help.”

That’s one of the lines in this song when the narrator finally realizes he needs help. And perhaps, even more urgently. 

The alcoholic character in the song is tired of his lifestyle, and the song sums up his efforts to overcome the addictive drink. 

Gilbert asserts that he only writes about the things he’s experienced. And one can probably assume that this song summed up a trying moment in his life. 

From losing a friend to experiencing a tough breakup and struggling with sobriety, “Just As I Am” is a complete masterpiece in one track. 

23. “Walk A Little Straighter” – Billy Currington 

Billy Currington’s ‘Walk A Little Straighter’ is self-explanatory. It is about an alcoholic dad unable to become a father figure to his son. 

The expression here is used literally to refer to the drunk father and figuratively to show that the dad keeps making bad life decisions. 

The father can only wish that he won’t pass the drinking trait to his son.

But despite everything, their bond is still strong, and the son can only hope his father’s redemption will come sooner rather than later. 

24. “Slow Suicide” – Scott Stapp

This song is about Scott’s personal experiences, having been deeply involved in drug and substance abuse for years.

Many people turn to drugs to escape the harsh realities of life or kill their sorrows, failing to realize that the drink kills them slowly, like a slow, programmed death. 

25. “Dope” – Lady Gaga 

For all the controversies around her life, it’s quite impressive that one of Lady Gaga’s best songs in history talks about drugs and substance abuse.

‘Dope’ is an electronic rock ballad about a dark theme. 

The soulful track describes Lady Gaga’s battles with addiction and other demons.

For all we know about Gaga, it’s only normal that she was always going to compare love to drugs. 

And that gives a whole new meaning to this song. But no matter how you want to interpret it, ‘Dope’ is a powerful song that sums up a special part of Lady Gaga’s music career. 

26. “Jane Says” – Jane’s Addiction 

“Jane Says” was based on a true character, with the narration following the life of a young woman looking for her path out of drugs, love, and life.

It is a rather long song, initially sung in 1988 as a promotional single. 

27. “Gravity” – A Perfect Circle 

Broken, weary, and dizzy, the song paints the picture of a guy completely consumed by his addiction.

He’s trying to be sober again, but the struggle is real, as he is constantly battling to heal the open wounds of addiction. 

“Broken and weary/Unable to find my way.” That line perfectly sums up the singer’s battles with addiction.

He continues to sing, ‘I am surrendering to the gravity, and the unknown/Catch me, heal me, lift me back up to the sun,’ probably illustrating his desire to lead a better, sober life. 

28. “Cleaning Out My Closet” – Eminem 

“Cleaning Out My Closet” is like one of those songs where the narrator decides to wash the dirty linen in public.  

In this track, Eminem shares a personal story describing someone’s struggle with substance abuse, presumably his mother. 

Eminem offers his fans a glimpse into his childhood life, describing his experiences with her addicted mother. 

It feels like his mother mistreated or neglected him when he was young. And you can argue that it was intentionally written from a personal perspective to evoke strong emotions. 

29. “Can’t Feel My Face” – The Weeknd 

‘Can’t Feel My Face’ is centered on a dark theme, describing The Weeknd’s addiction to something, presumably, a drug that will be the cause of his death. 

It’s widely suggested that the singer is talking about cocaine, with numbness and the idea of staying young forever describing the drug’s major side effects. 

30. “Dancing With The Devil” – Demi Lovato

Closing our addiction playlist is the 2021 poetic song by the American singer and songwriter Demi Lovato.

‘Dancing With The Devil” is a metaphoric song about taking big risks that could potentially endanger one’s life. 

In the track, Demi is merely describing her near-fatal 2018 experience after suffering a heart attack and three strokes from a drug overdose. 

While Demi reckons that her drinking habits only began with a glass of wine, it quickly became a downward spiral, almost ending fatally. 

Songs About Addiction – Final Thoughts

We all need a little inspiration to get over rough days. But for alcohol addicts, it goes beyond just a shoulder to lean on. 

For some, music is the powerful therapy that keeps them empowered as they undergo an arduous recovery journey. 

But for many, some heartfelt lyrics are the perfect reminder of their lowest points in life, summing up the worst experiences they wish to forget. 

The top 30 songs in our list are a mix of everything you may need during your redemption journey. 

Whether making a fresh start, getting the much-needed motivation during your recovery journey, or just fighting tough battles in silence, our list of drug addiction songs has everything you may need to get you through the rough days. 

Similar Playlists:

Songs About Drugs

Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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