Memoirs give a unique insight into a person’s life, their experiences and how they view the world. Reading the memoirs of celebrities, politicians and artists that we love and admire can help us get to know them better or gain insight into their art or where they come from.
Another type of memoir is that of people — both famous and not — who write about their experiences with addiction and recovery. It even has it’s own genre: Addiction Lit.
People are drawn to addiction lit for different reasons. For some, it’s relatable. Addicted people both recovering and non-recovering will often seek out memoirs of addicts and alcoholics because they can relate. Family and friends of addicted persons sometimes read the memoirs in the hopes of learning more and gaining understanding. Some people are just curious.
There is a lot to love about the addiction memoir. It’s usually written with an eloquent yet irreverent type of honesty, a rawness that so many recovering addicts can relate to. Humor is often part of the package (because addicts are a witty bunch) and there is frequently a theme of hope and redemption in these memoirs — though not always.
The following memoirs were written by women authors who have not only made it through their addiction and lived to tell the tale, but present their stories in beautifully written accounts that will leaving you turning the pages and unable to put the book down.
Prozac Nation — Elizabeth Wurtzel
A handbook for an over-medicated generation, as some may see it, and a good look at clinical depression, Prozac Nation also delves into substance abuse and a variety of timely issues facing a generation of young people. Some critics of this book state the story is overly self-indulgent, while others applaud her honesty and treatment of the topic of severe depression. Addiction is a secondary subject here, but as many addicts also suffer from depression, it qualifies for the genre.
Drinking: A Love Story — Caroline Knapp
A raw, real and well-written account of one freelance journalist’s addiction to the legal and socially acceptable drug, alcohol. Like many, the author’s journey was one of the functioning alcoholic, and many didn’t know she even had a problem. This is the case with so many Americans, and unfortunately, most never hit that bottom that forces them to finally get help. Her account of her alcoholism and her eventual recovery is thorough, moving and delves into other issues including anorexia.
Lit — Mary Karr
Author of The Liar’s Club and Cherry, Mary Karr’s writing style is sharp, witty and compelling. Her accounts of her years of drinking, parenthood, marriage and eventual recovery are heartbreaking, hilarious and delivered in her unique fashion. All of her work is highly acclaimed, and for good reason.
How To Stop Time: Heroin From A To Z — Ann Marlowe
A slightly different take on addiction lit, Marlowe’s collection of short essays create a somewhat disjointed look at the life of a heroin addict. Some readers may find it a little odd, in that she didn’t fit the standard profile of a heroin addict. This may make the stories harder for some to relate to. Overall, a compelling story and an interesting look at the culture.
Parched — Heather King
A memoir recounting the author’s upbringing in the Northeastern part of the country and her struggle with alcoholism as she moved from job to job, earned a law degree and dreamed of one day becoming a writer.
Each of these memoirs offers the author’s unique perspective on not only their addiction but also their recovery. For women who are new to recovery, it can help to read these published memoirs from accomplished women who have been through the depths of addiction, pulled themselves out and gone on to achieve amazing things.
Finding Help At Wayside House
If you are a woman and you are struggling with addiction, you can find the help you need at Wayside House. Our program is for women and by women, with a variety of holistic treatments and therapies often only found in more expensive rehabs. At Wayside House, you will find compassion, support and healing. Call 800-655-0817 for more information.