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8 Best Songs about Addiction and Recovery

Medically Reviewed by: Charley Allen

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songs about addiction and recovery
Many people claim, “Music is the soundtrack to my life.” But did you know music can be the soundtrack to your recovery as well? While there are countless popular songs that glorify drug and alcohol abuse, it should come as no surprise that often, these very same musicians go on to produce songs about addiction they may be passing through.

Music can be relatable in a way that few art forms can be. During recovery from addiction, it is crucial to be able to connect with other people who are going through similar struggles. While having a strong sober support system consisting of actual people is certainly the best resource, music can be a source of consolation and inspiration throughout the day.

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8 Best Songs About Addiction and Recovery

These songs about addiction and recovery can help you find your “rhythm” in recovery, whether you’re just getting sober or have several years under your belt.

“Not Afraid” by Eminem

This first song on the list is actually on an album called “Recovery.” Eminem produced “Not Afraid” after a period spent in addiction rehab. On the album, he is vulnerable, emotional, and contemplative. He opens up about his addiction to prescription pills and even his suicidal ideation or mental health disorders during his active addiction.

The song “Not Afraid” finds Eminem trying to connect with people who might also be struggling with a drug habit. He insists that while recovering from substance use disorders is difficult, addiction treatment and proper mental health services administration are possible — and they are well worth it.

“Old Ways” by Demi Lovato

Old Ways” is a song where Demi Lovato argues against people who insist that people can’t change. Her lyrics mention toxic people who doubt her ability to recover or people who insist that relapse is inevitable. It is one of the best Demi Lovato songs about addiction. The song is a celebration of her new life in recovery, and it talks about how bright and clear the world is without drugs and alcohol.

Demi Lovato wrote the song after multiple experiences in drug rehab. For Lovato, her drug and alcohol addiction was connected to eating disorders. As such, when Lovato refers to old ways, she’s talking not just about drug abuse and alcohol abuse but all the old behaviors associated with them.

“Sober” by Kelly Clarkson

Sober,” by Kelly Clarkson, the singer-songwriter seems to be talking about a romantic relationship. In fact, however, Clarkson uses the subject of a romantic relationship metaphorically to discuss drug addiction and recovery. Clarkson likens the end of an addiction to a break-up with a romantic partner.

There are always painful feelings associated with recovery and break-ups, but ultimately Clarkson recognizes that both circumstances are opportunities for personal growth. In the song, she discusses what it is like to be three months sober and how she is growing each day.

“Breaking the Habit” by Linkin Park

Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park wrote the song “Breaking the Habit” based on his experiences seeing a close friend struggle with substance abuse issues. The lead singer of Linkin Park, Chester Bennington, had for years had difficulties with both addiction and depression. Mike Shinoda wrote the song as a way for Bennington to understand how much his bandmates cared about him and to help with his addiction recovery.

In fact, Bennington’s wife and bandmates were part of the reason Bennington was able to get sober at all. They staged an intervention for him in 2006, helping him to begin his recovery journey to make sure he was not an addict anymore.

“Dark Times” by the Weeknd

In the song, “Dark Times,” the Weeknd tells us about how every person experiences negative and painful periods of their lives. It mentions all of the different activities, including drug and alcohol abuse, that people engage in and ultimately regret. While the song may discuss the pain associated with substance abuse, it emphasizes the importance of these experiences for personal growth.

Without these “dark times,” recovery is impossible. Recovery, the light at the end of the tunnel, allows us to emerge from these dark periods as stronger, more hopeful people.

“Otherside” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

Macklemore credits his success as a rapper and musician to his sobriety. In fact, he speaks in glowing terms about the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. His song, “Otherside,” is about how drugs and alcohol may seem fun and exciting at first, but ultimately they can have fatal consequences.

In many ways, the song is also a critique of the music industry in general. Macklemore points out that musicians and the lyrics they write exert a powerful influence on young people. Rather than glorifying substance abuse, suggests Macklemore, it might be more helpful to connect with listeners and discuss their actual struggles.

“Under the Bridge” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers

Red Hot Chili Peppers vocalist Anthony Kiedis struggled for years with an addiction to narcotics. His difficulties with opioids affected his work and relationships and led to pitiful and demoralizing social isolation and loneliness. “Under the Bridge” is about the alienation and pain associated with opioid and heroin addiction.

When Kiedis wrote the song, he was at first reluctant to show his bandmates the lyrics. Being vulnerable is hard, but it is an important part of recovery. His bandmates were ultimately supportive, and in fact, the song was one of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ breakout hits. Today, Anthony Kiedis is open about his sobriety, and he has even published a memoir about his recovery journey, entitled Scar Tissue.

“The A-Team” by Ed Sheeran

When Ed Sheeran was 18 years old, he performed a gig at a homeless shelter, where he was able to witness firsthand the devastating consequences of substance abuse. After listening to people’s stories about homelessness and addiction, Ed Sheeran was moved to convert these stories into music that could move other people as well.

Shortly afterward, Ed Sheeran wrote “The A Team,” which is about a sex worker who struggles with an addiction to crack cocaine.

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Frequently Asked Questions

There are plenty of songs that talk about addiction and recovery from drugs. The most iconic ones include “Dark Times” by the Weeknd, “Otherside” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, and “Under the Bridge” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

One of the most inspiring songs for people recovering from addiction is “The A-Team” by Ed Sheeran. The song tells the story of a sex worker who is struggling with an addiction to crack cocaine and how she finds hope despite her circumstances. It is a powerful reminder of how resilience can help us overcome our darkest moments.
The best songs for overcoming addiction are those that inspire hope, such as “Alive” by Sia, “Coming Up For Air” by K.Flay, and “High Hopes” by Panic! At the Disco. These songs emphasize that while addiction can be difficult to overcome, it is possible with hard work and determination.

They are also reminders of how far we have come in our journey to recovery. Other inspiring songs include “Not Afraid” by Eminem, “Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson, and “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten. All of these upbeat songs offer a sense of hope for those who are struggling with addiction.

Such songs often discuss cocaine addiction, drug use, alcohol poisoning, and more. They also talk about putting out all those fires that started in life since addiction started and how to burn some bridges and rebuild yourself.

Getting Help

Music can inspire and support us on our sober journeys, but it is still important to have a strong program of sobriety in place, as well as a social support system. Design for Recovery, a structured sober living home for men located in West Los Angeles, can provide both.

Residents of Design for Recovery work daily to develop the skills and tools they need to avoid relapse and begin to live joyful, free, and prosperous lives. Not only do residents of Design for Recovery let go of substances, but they also begin to grasp ahold of new social lives and careers that make their sobriety journeys meaningful and valuable.

If you are inspired by any of these songs, keep in mind that even the richest and most famous musicians didn’t do it alone. If you are ready for a new way of life, reach out to Design for Recovery today.


Edited by: David Beasley

David Beasley - Design for Recovery

David Beasley is a certified RADT (Registered Alcohol/Drug Technician). David, moved to California from North Carolina after many failed attempts to get sober.

Medically Reviewed by: Charley Allen

Charley earned his Masters of Clinical Psychology from Antioch University, Los Angeles, and is a California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT).He teaches mindfulness to both adults and children in group setting such as schools, corporate workplaces, and medical treatment facilities.

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