Best Books on Treating Addiction

Addiction can be a daunting struggle, and having access to resources that will help is an invaluable part of recovery. We compiled a list of books that are must-reads for anyone who wants support and guidance when it comes to addiction. 
These cover multiple perspectives and include some academic texts too. Each author brings something valuable to the table, giving people hope and a chance at recovery.


A Million Little Pieces (Novel) by James Frey 


The book is a semi-autobiographical account of the author's struggles with drug addiction and his experiences in a rehabilitation centre.

The novel begins with the protagonist, James, waking up on an airplane with no recollection of how he got there. Covered in blood and missing several teeth, he is informed that he has been sent to a treatment facility in Minnesota to overcome his severe drug and alcohol addiction. Throughout the book, James narrates his journey through the detoxification process and the challenges he faces while trying to come to terms with his addiction and the consequences of his actions.

The novel delves deep into the raw emotions, physical pain, and psychological turmoil experienced by the protagonist during his time in rehab. The novel does not hold back in its portrayal of the difficulties of addiction and the unorthodox methods used in the treatment centre.

After its release, the book gained widespread attention and was highly praised for its gripping narrative and unflinching portrayal of addiction and recovery. However, it also faced significant controversy when it was revealed that certain aspects of the story were embellished and exaggerated, leading to questions about its authenticity and categorization as a memoir.

Despite the controversy, "A Million Little Pieces" remains a compelling and powerful exploration of addiction, recovery, and the human spirit's resilience in the face of adversity. It sparked important discussions about the line between memoir and fiction and continues to be both celebrated and debated in the literary world.


Postcards from the Edge (Novel) by Carrie Fisher


Postcards from the Edge is a semi-autobiographical novel written by Carrie Fisher, published in 1987. Carrie Fisher was a talented actress best known for her iconic role as Princess Leia in the "Star Wars" franchise. In addition to her acting career, Fisher was also an accomplished writer and humourist.

The novel tells the story of Suzanne Vale, a young actress who is struggling with drug addiction and trying to rebuild her life and career after a stint in rehab. Suzanne is the daughter of a famous actress, just like Fisher herself, which adds an autobiographical element to the story. Throughout the book, readers get an inside look at the complexities of Hollywood life, fame, family relationships, and the challenges of recovery.

The novel presents a witty and candid portrayal of Suzanne's journey as she attempts to navigate the ups and downs of show business while dealing with her personal struggles. The narrative humorously and poignantly explores the pressures and expectations faced by those in the spotlight and the complexities of mother-daughter relationships.

The title Postcards from the Edge references the postcards that Suzanne sends to her mother during her time in rehab, providing glimpses into her inner thoughts and emotions. The novel's unique blend of humour, honesty, and vulnerability has made it a beloved work, appreciated both for its entertainment value and its insights into the challenges of addiction and fame. 

The Biology of Desire by Marc Lewis 

A New York Times Bestseller, The Biology of Desire explores the neurobiology behind addiction. It explains why some people are more likely to become addicted than others, what happens in a brain during withdrawal and recovery from an addiction, and offers life-changing insights into understanding one’s own addictive behaviours.

Facing Shame: Families in Recovery by Merle A Fossum and Marilyn J Mason

A very helpful book for families struggling with recovery and addiction and for whom face repeat treatments with little results. Behaviours such as compulsion, addiction, and/or abuse are frequent occurrences and are all linked by an underlying process of shame. Offering comparison between the shame-bound family system and the respectful family system, the authors using case studies take the reader on a journey of hearing through the stages of therapy. 

Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Help People Change by Jeffrey Foote 

This is a compassionate, science-based approach to understanding addiction and how it can be successfully managed.

The Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction by Maia Szalavitz

We now live in unprecedented times where more and more people are struggling with some form of addiction, where it's prescription meds, sex gambling, porn or the internet. However the literature on shame and addiction remains stuck in 20th century-style thinking of the condition, i.e. that addiction is a brain disease or even a crime! In this book Szalavitz, strikingly challenges whether the addict truly has a broken brain or addictive personality and if it is actually a case of a learning disorder that can be treated and 'untangled'. Szalavitz also recognises that what works for one person might not for another and that actually the condition is more of a spectrum disorder similar to autism.

In this book, Szalavitz combines 25+ years of science and research with personal experience making it a revolutionary book in this space.


Related recommended reading lists:



Breaking Up

Breaking Up With A Friend


Consolation in times of sorrow

Feeling lonely

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder


Can't see a specific reading list above? Get something more tailored with our personalised book prescriptions within 48 hours.

More book prescriptions can be found at our A-Z of Book Prescriptions.


A big hello and thank you for reading! Passionate about literature, psychology, and life I launched Book Therapy as an alternative form of therapy using the power of literature. I train mental health professionals, librarians, teachers as well as readers on using bibliotherapy in their own work through our online Bibliotherapy, Literature and Mental Health course. We also curate reading lists/personalised book prescriptions for clients based on their individual needs. This is our signature personalised reading service.

You can also check out Book Therapy’s other free reading lists and A- Z of book prescriptions (covering both fiction and non-fiction). These suggest books based on your existing life situation (e.g. anxiety, job change, relationship heartache) as well as interests (e.g memoir, historical fiction, non-fiction, crime etc). There’s also a Children’s A — Z of Book Prescriptions. Feel free to check out the blog for more literary gems. There’s also a post on my personal story of how I entered the world of bibliotherapy and book curation.

In this role, I have had the opportunity to publish two books, Bibliotherapy: The Healing Power of Reading and The Happiness Mindset, and write various literary essays and pieces for newspapers and magazines. I have undertaken bibliotherapy workshops for The United Nations, various libraries in New York and corporate organisations in the UK and US. My book recommendations have featured in the Guardian, Marie Claire, NBC News, Asian Voice, New York Observer, Sydney Telegraph and various other publications. If you are a parent you might enjoy a podcast I’ve recorded with speech and language therapist Sunita Shah on Raising A Reader & Storyteller. And if you’d like to connect, email me at or



Book Therapy is a participant in the Amazon EU, US and Canada Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to, and