Music speaks to all of us differently and is undoubtedly linked to affecting our mood and behaviors, whether listening to upbeat songs or those that are deeper and more introspective.
The following is a list of songs about addiction and recovery we have compiled that can speak to everyone, regardless of whether they have lived those experiences themselves.
Through each musician’s honest and raw portrayals of the damage they have encountered firsthand or observed in other’s substance use disorders, these famous songs send a powerful message and cautionary tale about drinking and drug use to anyone who listens. Hear are some inspiring and realistic songs about addiction.
“Rehab” ~ Amy Winehouse
Perhaps one of the most iconic addiction songs of all time, “Rehab” is about the Winehouse’s relationship with alcohol. Written in 2006, this hit focuses on the denial of a present addiction and alcohol abuse, insisting that her relationship with drinking isn’t that bad and that she drinks through fear of an imminent breakup of a romantic relationship with her soulmate.
This song was inspired by a visit to a rehab facility by Winehouse for her addiction treatment, which lasted just 15 minutes, which she did to show her record label at the time that she attended. Tragically, and perhaps not surprisingly, Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning in 2011 at age 27.
They tried to make me go to rehab, but I said, “No, no, no”
Yes, I’ve been black, but when I come back, you’ll know, know, know
I don’t ever wanna drink again
I just, ooh, I just need a friend
I’m not gonna spend ten weeks
Have everyone think I’m on the mend
“The Needle and The Damage Done” ~ Neil Young
Released in 1972, this song is backed throughout with acoustic guitar and describes the damage caused by heroin addiction. Young speaks of a close friend he has lost through a drug overdose and the damage done in the song’s lyrics.
I watched the needle take another man
Gone, gone, the damage done
I sing the song because I love the man
I know that some of you don’t understand
Milk blood to keep from running out
I’ve seen the needle and the damage done
A little part of it in everyone
But every junkie’s like a settin’ sun”
“Under The Bridge” ~ Red Hot Chili Peppers
Lead singer Anthony Kiedis talks about drug addictions he has been facing for a large part of his life and a poignant reflection by the singer on his experience of drugs.
I don’t ever wanna feel like I did that day
Take me to the place I love, take me all the way
Under the bridge downtown
Is where I drew some blood
I could not get enough
Forgot about my love
I gave my life away
“Wise Up” ~ Aimee Mann
“Wise Up” deals with the need to recognize and accept reality. The song can be applied to multiple scenarios, but many people in recovery state that it deepens their powerlessness to addiction. It was prominently featured in the movie Magnolia (1999), which, in part, deals with the struggle of drug addiction.
There’s a cure
And you have finally found it
Will shrink you ’til you’re underground
And living down
But it’s not going to stop
‘Til you wise up
“That Smell” ~ Lynyrd Skynyrd
“That Smell” was written by Lynyrd Skynyrd lead vocalist Ronnie Van Zant and guitarist Allen Collins and released in 1977. When the song was penned, the band had been abusing alcohol, cocaine, and heroin. Van Zant states that he started using illicit drugs to relieve the pressure of playing in front of huge audiences.
Van Zant’s inspiration when writing the song was the increasingly reckless indulgences of the band members climaxing when guitarist Gary Rossington crashed his vehicle into an oak tree in Jacksonville, Florida, after excessive use of drugs and alcohol.
Angel of darkness is upon you
Stuck a needle in your arm
So take another toke, have a blow for your nose
And one more drink fool will drown you
Ooooh that smell
Can’t you smell that smell
Ooooh that smell
The smell of death surrounds you
“Sober” ~ Tool
Regarding their powerful and extremely dark song “Sober,” Tool guitarist Adam Jones stated in an interview with Guitar School:
“The song and video are based on a guy we know who is at his artistic best when he’s loaded.”
“You can do what you want, but you have to take responsibility for what happens. If you become addicted and a junkie, well, that’s your fault.”
I will find a center in you
I will chew it up and leave
I will work to elevate you
Just enough to bring you down
Mother Mary, won’t you whisper?
Something but what’s past and done
Why can’t we not be sober?
I just want to start this over
And why can’t we sleep forever?
I just want to start this over
Getting Professional Help for Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Listening to relatable music can be very cathartic but does not take the place of former treatment. Just Believe Recovery is a specialized rehab center that uses a comprehensive, evidence-based approach to addiction and co-occurring mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. Programs we offer feature a wide variety of therapies and activities, including the following:
- Medical detox
- Health and wellness education
- Dual diagnosis treatment
- Group support
- Art and music therapy
- Mindfulness meditation
- Aftercare planning
- Alumni events
We hope you have enjoyed our list of “Inspiring and Realistic Songs About Addiction”, until next time stay safe and we are always here if you need us!