Songs about addiction ring true for anyone who has had to personally deal with drug and alcohol abuse or seen these substances impact the lives of their loved ones.
With pop and rock stars as prone to drug addiction as anyone else, it’s no surprise they’ve written plenty of songs about this topic over the decades.
Continue reading for our guide to the best songs exploring drug and alcohol addiction and other forms of substance abuse that people struggle to deal with.
The 23 Best Songs About Addiction & Recovery
Since addiction comes in all shapes and sizes, we’ve searched for songs that reflect how people cope with all types of addiction they face.
We’ve also picked out songs from a wide range of artists and performers for a complete musical overview of the subject.
With that aside, hold onto your hats and enjoy our list of the 23 best songs about addiction and recovery:
23. “Cleanin’ Out My Closet” – Eminem
Eminem’s song about addiction takes the concept of “Cleaning Out My Closet” as an allegory for dealing with substance abuse.
In this case, he’s referring to his family, rapping, “just try to witness your mom poppin’ prescription pills in the kitchen.”
A prolific rapper, Eminem has penned one of the best songs about revenge, “Brain Damage.”
22. “Master Of Puppets” – Metallica
Metallica’s pounding song, “Masters of Puppets,” reflects the band member’s dealings with drug addiction and recovery.
The lyrics, “Blinded by me, you can’t see a thing,” point to how drugs can easily take over people’s lives.
Released on the album of the same name, it was entered into the Library of Congress as being of cultural significance.
21. “Old Ways” – Demi Lovato
Anyone who has suffered from addiction understands how easy it can be to slip back into their “Old Ways.”
Demi Lovato likens this to “playin’ with knives until a blade stuck in the left side of my chest” in this powerful pop song.
The song pairs well with Lovato’s other hit song, “Dancing With The Devil,” which also relates to experiences of a drug overdose.
20. “Rx (Medicate)” – Theory
Sometimes people experience full-blown addiction but don’t want to face the fact they have a problem that needs to be dealt with.
Rx explores this theme, with the vocals referring to opiate abuse but still making any excuses necessary to get high.
Theory of a Deadman released the track in 2017, featuring it on his Wake Up Call album.
19. “This Is Me Trying” – Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift’s versatility cannot be understated, with the singer writing everything from songs about breathing to songs about addiction.
“This is Me Trying” explores how drugs can be an easy escape, singing, “They told me all of my cages were mental, so I got wasted like all my potential.”
It peaked at number 39 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and nine on the Billboard Hot Rock & Alternative Songs.
18. “Because I Got High” – Afroman
The unofficial anthem of weed smokers worldwide, “Because I Got High” by Afroman, is a gimmicky tune about being too stoned to do anything productive.
Anyone who has tried marijuana will recognize themselves in the song, with this one-hit wonder remaining popular today.
Afroman made many albums in the wake of this song but failed to replicate its success down the line.
17. “Save Me” – Shinedown
Shinedown’s booming rock style is applied perfectly to their track “Save Me,” released on their 2005 album, Us and Them.
It describes the squalor people endure while addicted to drugs, singing, “I live in a hallway with no doors and no rooms.”
The album it came from broke the 1 million sales barrier in the United States to be certified platinum by the RIAA.
16. “Semi-Charmed Life” – Third Eye Blind
This bittersweet song by Third Eye Blind explores the vicious cycle of drug addiction, where each hit leads to the need for the next.
The singing says, “It won’t stop, I won’t come down, I keep stock with a tick-tock rhythm, a bump for the drop.”
Ultimately, this continual crescendo of hedonism eventually comes crashing down, leaving no choice but to face addiction treatment.
15. “Breaking The Habit” – Linkin Park
Linkin Park released “Breaking the Habit” in 2004 as part of their second studio album, Meteora.
The lyrics “I don’t know what’s worth fighting for or why I have to scream” capture the despair of excessive drug and alcohol abuse.
It’s fitting that Linkin Park is also responsible for one of the best songs about anxiety, a feeling that too many drugs can easily evoke.
14. “Just As I Am” – Brantley Gilbert
Brantley Gilbert invokes God and faith in “Just As I Am,” his epic song about dealing with alcohol addiction and seeking sobriety.
“Lord I’ve tried it by myself/Forget my pride, I need your help,” he sings, desperate to overcome his addiction.
A huge hit song among country rock music fans, it’s a harrowing yet earnest insight into a man’s struggle with alcohol addiction.
13. “Captain Jack” – Billy Joel
Anyone who has been to college has noticed how young students can often prefer lazy, drug-fueled lifestyles.
“Captain Jack” is Billy Joel’s song about these people and was intended to warn against this behavior.
While this rock classic was released in 1972, its message resonates today just as effectively as it did on its release.
12. “Jane Says” – Jane’s Addiction
The very name Jane’s Addiction points to a band that understands substance use disorders, and “Jane Says” outlines the life of a woman looking for a better life.
Like many addicts, Jane “don’t mean to harm, she just don’t know what else to do about it.”
The song was released on their 1987 live album, recorded at the Roxy Theater in Los Angeles.
11. “Wasted” – Carrie Underwood
One of the most versatile singers of her generation, Carrie Underwood, has explored everything from songs about dogs to ones about dealing with addiction.
Her song “Wasted” has a double meaning, referring to the act of being wasted on booze and the life resulting from addiction.
The celebrated country singer was once described by Forbes magazine as the most successful American Idol winner of all time.
10. “Déjà Vu” – Eminem
Returning once again to Eminem for his rap song “Déjà Vu,” another hit describing his problems with substance abuse.
As the title implies, this track explores the cyclical nature of drug abuse and heroin addiction and the desire to break the habit.
Insomnia and grief were other factors that influenced his decision to write this powerful song.
9. “Sober” – Kelly Clarkson
Prolific singer-songwriter Kelly Clarkson is responsible for some of the best karaoke songs ever made, with “Sober” a fantastic addition to her discography.
Sober covers the challenges of being a recovering addict and the fear that, at any moment, you can crash and burn.
While Clarkson wasn’t singing about her struggles, the message still resonates with anyone who’s faced addiction recovery.
8. “Whiskey Lullaby” – Brad Paisley ft. Alison Krauss
“Whiskey Lullaby” covers one of the best-loved alcoholic drinks available, but it can be easily overdone like all the best things in life.
This sad country song by Brad Paisley tells the story of two lovers who die through drinking after their hearts are broken.
It earned Paisley a nomination for the Country Music Association Award for Song of the Year in 2004.
7. “Dark Times” – The Weeknd ft. Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran and The Weeknd collaborated on the “Dark Times” track in 2015 and released it on the Beauty Behind the Masses album.
As the song title implies, this is a track about how the dark times can creep up on us when we least expect them, leading us into dark places.
While substance abuse isn’t explicitly mentioned, it sits on the song’s underbelly.
6. “Mr. Brownstone” – Guns N’ Roses
The band members of Guns N’ Roses were known for their drink and drug use, referencing it in their song, “Mr. Brownstone.”
Referencing their heroin addiction, the song talks about how they used to do a little, but the little became more and more over time.
It was one of the most successful tracks featured on their 1987 album, Appetite for Destruction.
5. “Starting Over” – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis ft. Ben Bridwell
Before finding fame and fortune as a successful musician, Macklemore struggled with his own alcohol addiction and relapses.
The song “Starting Over” describes his efforts to overcome alcohol abuse and lead a good, sober life on the straight and narrow.
Released on the 2012 album Heist, it’s a harrowing account of alcohol poisoning and dealing with the mental health services administration.
4. “Amazing” – Aerosmith
Aerosmith’s enormous music catalog has seen them write one of the best songs about dreams and the aptly-titled “Amazing.”
This power ballad about addiction treatment and being a recovering addict is one of the band’s lesser-known songs about addiction.
Anyone who has been through addiction recovery will feel an affinity with Aerosmith and their own personal struggles.
3. “Sober” – P!nk
Artist P!nk penned another great song about addiction recovery called “Sober,” releasing it on her fifth studio album, Funhouse.
In it, she sings about the high feeling she gets while sober and not having to face the negative consequences of being on drugs.
It’s a bombastic, energetic song that matches the powerful lyrics and energy of P! nk’s performances.
2. “That Smell” – Lynyrd Skynyrd
Lynyrd Skynyrd released their rock song “That Smell” in 1977 on the album Street Survivors as a cautionary tale for anyone addicted to drugs.
“There’s too much coke and too much smoke, look what’s going on inside you” sums up the effects of too much hedonism and not enough self-control.
The song reflects the lead singer’s experiences using heroin and cocaine to relieve the pressure of performing large gigs.
1. “Rehab” – Amy Winehouse
Amy Winehouse was known for her battles with substance abuse, which she often alluded to in her music.
One such track is “Rehab,” widely considered one of the best songs of all time, encapsulating her ongoing struggles with alcohol.
The song won many awards and serves as a lasting legacy for a singer whose death was a sad loss for music lovers worldwide.
That concludes this playlist covering the best songs about addiction and recovery, from iconic pop hits to classic tracks from titans of rock.
With the music industry having a reputation for drug use, it’s perhaps not surprising, so many songs have been written on the topic.
We can expect more songs of this nature to come, so be sure to return to this playlist, as we’ll update it with the latest songs about addiction.
Is there a song about addiction that has helped you with your recovery? Leave a comment below.
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