If you are in recovery from a substance use disorder, you may find it helpful to read about the experiences other people have had in dealing with addiction, which is a chronic illness.1 During rehab, you learned that you are not alone in suffering from addiction. You may get inspiration from finding out how others have coped, or how drugs and alcohol affect people in many different ways.

Recommended Reading for a Sober Summer

1. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

This is a work of fiction and an enjoyable read for those who like thrillers. One of the leading characters abuses alcohol, and the book provides a fascinating insight into how alcohol affects her perception of reality. Many people in recovery will be able to identify with this character.

2. Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America’s Greatest Tragedy by David Sheff

David Sheff has first-hand experience of the damage that addiction can cause to a family. His son suffered from a drug addiction, and he was angered by the fact that people who have addiction problems are sometimes seen as morally deficient. He advocates that addiction should be viewed as a health problem, rather than a criminal problem.

This book is the result of his research into the various types of treatment and aftercare that are available. If you are in recovery, you may find new types of treatment that can help keep your sober summer on track. Your family and friends can also benefit by reading this book, as it will give them a better understanding of the nature of addiction.

3. Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola

While addiction is serious and must be addressed accordingly, it does not mean that those in recovery cannot develop a good sense of humor. Sarah Hepola’s book is an inspiring account of how she dealt with her addiction to alcohol. Despite the damage caused by her addiction, she has emerged as a capable and witty writer. Blackout is a great read this sober summer.

4. Gun, Needle, Spoon by Patrick O’Neil

Next on our sober summer reading list is a scary, yet heartwarming, account of the author’s struggle with addiction. O’Neil’s life had spiraled out of control, to the extent that he turned to armed robbery to get money for drugs. This serves as a stark reminder of how dangerous an addiction can be. The author was eventually inspired to become sober when he ended up in jail following a robbery.

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

Szalavitz’s book challenges many of the traditional approaches to understanding addiction. As such, it may prove controversial, but is an excellent read to help you through your sober summer.

While addiction has probably been a problem since humans first appeared on the planet, the science of effective addiction treatment is relatively new. There is much that even the experts do not fully understand. Szalavitz presents the theory that addiction is a learning disorder and explores ways to deal with it. She challenges the belief that the high rates of relapse are a “wiring” problem.2


  1. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/drug-abuse-addiction
  2. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/frequently-asked-questions/how-effective-drug-addiction-treatment