35 Best Songs About Struggling with Addiction & Substance Abuse

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Drug addiction and substance abuse not only destroy addicts’ lives, but also those of the people they love.

According to 2020 statistics, in America alone, there are more than 37 million individuals, aged 12 and older, who use illicit substances. This is an issue that has a far-reaching negative impact in almost all sectors of society.

Drug addiction is not uncommon in the music industry, so it is understandable why a number of musicians have written songs about it.

In today’s article, we’re sharing a list of songs about addiction that describe the destructive power of drugs and other addictive substances. Many of these songs were written by artists who had first-hand experiences with substance abuse.

These songs shed light on the realities of drug addiction. Several are written from the point of view of someone on the road to recovery.

Hopefully, this compilation will be a powerful source of inspiration and hope for those who are on this difficult road.

1. Rehab, Amy Winehouse

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.

Amy Winehouse was an extremely talented music artist who received numerous awards, including two Guinness World Records.

The people who knew her were often blown away by her talent. But Amy was also known for her heavy use of drugs and alcohol.

This song is about an addict who doesn’t think she needs to get clean.

Tragically for Amy, her addiction eventually led to her demise.

2. How Could You Leave Us, NF

I don't get it, mom. Don't you want to watch your babies grow? I guess pills are more important, all you have to say is ‘no’. But you won't do it, will you? You gon' keep popping 'til those pills kill you. I know you gone but I can still feel you.

Drugs have the power to destroy people’s lives and break up families. This is a raw and heartbreaking song about a son’s pain at the death of his mother from overdose.

3. Cold Turkey, John Lennon

Thirty-six hours. Rolling in pain. Praying to someone. Free me again. Oh, I'll be a good boy. Please, make me well. I promise you anything. Get me out of this hell.

This song is about the withdrawal symptoms addicts feel when they’re off their drug/substance of choice for an extended period of time.

Their bodies are so accustomed to the drugs that quitting cold turkey brings on powerful and painful physical symptoms, making it tempting to get back on the drugs just to stop the pain.

4. Not an Addict, K’s Choice

It's not a habit. It's cool. I feel alive. If you don't have it, you're on the other side. I'm not an addict. Maybe that's a lie.

Addicts often lack the necessary self-awareness that prevents them from engaging in dangerous behavior and action. They might even adamantly deny that they are addicted to substances.

This song is about that type of denial.

An addict will often argue that the drugs help them—whether making them feel more creative or “attuned” to what’s going on around them.

Some might even say that people who don’t use drugs are uncool.

5. It’s Been a While, Staind

And it's been a while since I can say that I wasn't addicted. And it's been a while since I can say I love myself as well.

As mentioned earlier, drug addicts not only hurt themselves, but also those they love.

This song is about the struggles an addict faces on the road to recovery.

In their intoxicated or drugged-out state, they may have hurt the ones they love the most. In this song, a former addict apologizes to a loved one.

Along with realizing that they’ve hurt people they love and who love them, addicts also need to learn to love themselves. This is one of the ways to prevent themselves from going back to toxic habits.

6. Sober, Kelly Clarkson

Three months and I'm still sober. Picked all my weeds but kept the flowers. But I know, it's never really over.

This song is about the awareness that being sober requires a lot of mindfulness.

It is about learning to adjust in an environment where you will always be tempted by what causes your addiction — whether it’s alcohol, drugs, a toxic relationship, porn, etc.

7. Sober, P!nk

I'm safe up high. Nothing can touch me. Why do I feel this party's over? Whoaaah. No pain inside. You're like perfection. But how do I feel this good sober?

P!nk is known to have used illicit substances in her younger days. However, she has since decided to get help and stay sober.

In this song, P!nk sings about the benefits of being sober and clean.

8. The More I Drink, Blake Shelton

Well, if I have one, I'll have thirteen. Naw, there ain't no in-between. ‘Cause the more I drink, the more I drink.

Recovering addicts are aware of the effects drugs and substances have on them. In this song, listeners are introduced to a man who is on his way to recovery from alcohol abuse.

His friends at the bar ridicule him for ordering a Coke instead of his usual alcoholic beverage. However, the man explains that he will be unable to stop drinking if he starts again.

Let’s hope, for his sake, that his determination to stay sober remains strong.

9. Sister Morphine, Marianne Faithfull

Oh, can't you see that I'm fading fast? And that this shot will be the last.

This is a heartbreaking song about a morphine addict who may have overdosed.

He wakes up at the hospital, confused about what’s going on around him. He then goes through withdrawal symptoms while he’s getting treatment.

10. Gravity, A Perfect Circle

I fell again, like a baby unable to stand on my own. Tail in hand, dizzy and clearly unable to just let this go.

In this song, the narrator has almost reached rock bottom in his addiction. He’s clearly gone through multiple cycles of getting high and then trying to get clean and sober.

Nevertheless, this person is determined to live. He surrenders his fate to whatever force can help him achieve the sobriety he needs.

11. Bottom of a Bottle, Smile Empty Soul

I do it for the drugs. I do it just to feel alive. I do it for the love that I get from the bottom of a bottle.

The words of this song’s chorus might be something an addict would say.

However, according to the band that wrote this song, it is actually about doing whatever sustains you and makes you passionate about living.

12. The Needle and the Damage Done, Neil Young

I've seen the needle and the damage done. A little part of it in everyone. But every junkie's like a settin' sun.

Neil Young knew several people, some of them his friends, who died of heroin overdose. He wrote this song that describes the fatal effects of the drug.

13. Needle of Death, Bert Jansch

One grain of pure white snow, dissolved in blood spread quickly to your brain. In peace your mind withdraws. Your death so near, your soul can't feel no pain.

Here’s another song that describes the fatal consequences of drug addiction. Bert Jansch wrote this song as a tribute to a friend and fellow musician who overdosed on heroin.

14. Master of Puppets, Metallica

Taste me, you will see, more is all you need. Dedicated to how I'm killing you.

This song from Metallica has recently regained popularity after being used in the series Stranger Things.

It is sung from the point of view of drugs, and describes how it takes over the life of an addict. It then urges the user to take more of it, with lethal consequences.

15. Chandelier, Sia

One, two, three, one, two, three, drink. Throw 'em back 'til I lose count.

In this tragic song, a woman struggles with depression and alcoholism. She is tired of her party-girl days.

The inspiration for this song is Sia’s personal experience with the highs and lows of being a musician searching for her place in the industry. She was addicted to drugs and was also an alcoholic.

Fortunately for her, she found the strength to sober up. Her big break came because of this song.

16. The A Team, Ed Sheeran

White lips, pale face. Breathin' in the snowflakes. Burnt lungs, sour taste. Light's gone, days end. Struggling to pay rent. Long nights, strange men.

The inspiration for this song is a woman named Angel, whom Ed Sheeran met when he volunteered at a homeless shelter.

As we listen to the song, we get to know Angel and how she struggles through life. Her drug of choice is cocaine, which is in the same drug class (Class A) as heroin.

17. Using Again, Benjamin Tod

I'm living low down and I am using again.

In this song, listeners get introduced to someone who can’t seem to get away from the cycle of addiction. This man is aware of the negative consequences of his drug habit, but is unable to stop.

He despises what he’s become. His drug-addicted state isn’t a true reflection of who he is inside.

18. Dust in a Baggie, Billy Strings

This life of sin has got me in. Well, it's got me back in prison once again. I used my only phone call to contact my daddy. I got twenty long years for some dust in a baggie.

Billy Strings has a deep understanding of a drug addict’s life. His father passed away from a heroin overdose when Billy was two years old, and many of Billy’s family members used and were addicted to drugs.

This song is about the life of a meth addict. The addict gets arrested and is sentenced to 20 years for possession of the illegal drugs.

As for Billy, he and his family were able to overcome their drug addictions. They are now clean and sober.

songs about addiction | addiction | song about struggle addiction

19. Sober Haha Jk Unless, Hospital Bracelet

And I don't really know if I wanna overdose. Maybe I'm just constantly scared of being on my own.

This song describes the internal struggles of an addict, including their isolation and longing for sobriety.

The narrator is hounded by dark thoughts, possibly made worse by his drug use. He pleads for help and reflects on his fears.

He longs for healing and accepts that his recovery will most likely be a painful journey.

20. Badfish, Sublime

Ain't got no money to spend. I hope the night will never end. Lord knows I'm weak. Won't somebody get me off of this reef?

The summer-party vibe of this song belies its darker message. “Badfish” can mean someone who does hard drugs like heroin. It can also refer to someone who introduces another person to hard drugs.

This song most likely refers to one of Sublime's member’s drug addiction. He might want out of his predicament, and this song is a cry for help.

21. Under the Bridge, Red Hot Chili Peppers

(Under the bridge downtown) Is where I drew some blood. (Under the bridge downtown) I could not get enough. (Under the bridge downtown) Forgot about my love. (Under the bridge downtown) I gave my life away, yeah…

This song describes the loneliness and isolation a drug addict feels. No one actually understands how this person feels or what he’s going through.

However, this song offers hope. Although still struggling with his addiction, the addict has taken the first steps towards recovery.

22. Salvation, The Cranberries

To all those people doing lines, don't do it, don't do it. Inject your soul with liberty. It's free, it's free.

This song is The Cranberries’ take on drug abuse. It speaks to those who are using drugs and encourages them not to do so anymore.

23. Walk a Little Straighter, Billy Currington

And I'd say, ‘Walk a little straighter daddy. You're swaying side to side. Your footsteps make me dizzy. And no matter how I try, I keep tripping and stumbling. If you'd look down here, you'd see. Walk a little straighter daddy. You're leading me.’”

This song is sung from the point of view of an alcoholic’s son. The son pleads for his father to become a better example for him.

24. Life Is Beautiful, Sixx:A.M.

I was waiting for my hearse. What came next was so much worse. It took a funeral to make me feel alive.

In 1987, Nikki Sixx overdosed on heroin. He was clinically dead for a couple of minutes before he was revived.

The experience was a major wakeup call for Sixx. This song was inspired by that particular event.

Today, Sixx advocates for people to stay off drugs. Through his band Sixx:A.M., he shares his personal experience of being a drug addict and someone who is committed to recovery.

25. Don’t Leave Home, Dido

I arrived when you were weak. I'll make you weaker like a child. Now, all your love you give to me when your heart is all I'll need. Oh, don't leave home.

In an interview, Dido said that this song is about drug addiction.

The point of view is that of the substance or drug that the user is addicted to.

The song is about how drug addiction takes over a person’s entire life, isolating them from everything that used to matter before they became addicted.

26. Drinkin’ Problem, Midland

People say I got a drinkin' problem, but I got no problem drinkin' at all.

Drug addicts and alcoholics will often deny that they have a problem with substance abuse. This song describes that vehement denial.

In it, the alcoholic even resorts to wordplay to deny his drinking problem.

27. Drug Dealer, Macklemore ft. Ariana DeBoo

My drug dealer was a doctor, doctor. Had the plug from Big Pharma, Pharma. He said that he would heal me, heal me. But he only gave me problems, problems.

In this song, Macklemore discusses the issue of prescription medicines are addictive. He also calls out the doctors who willingly prescribe these medications, despite knowing their dangerous side effects.

This song is a call for those who have a hand in creating the prescription drug problem to be held accountable.

28. Otherside, Macklemore x Ryan Lewis, ft. Fences

I've seen cocaine bring out the demons inside. Cheating and lying. Friendships cease. No peace in the mind. Stealing and taking anything to fix the pieces inside. Broken, hopeless, headed nowhere. Only motivation for what the dealer's supplying.

Here is another song from Macklemore tackling the issue of drug addiction and its heartbreaking and often fatal consequences.

This song describes how drugs rob you of happiness, destroy relationships, and leave you with broken dreams.

29. Life in the Fast Lane, Eagles

Life in the fast lane, surely make you lose your mind.

This song is about a couple who lived life in the fast lane. They tried everything that kind of life has to offer.

Sadly, it ended tragically for both of them.

30. Addiction, Counterfeit

I hit rock bottom, but that was last autumn. Now I'm keeping myself in line. I hit rock bottom, but now I'm back at 'em. Taking each day at a time.

The cycle of addiction is difficult to escape. For an addict, their situation can often feel hopeless.

Many addicts long to be clean and sober. However, their addictions are often overwhelming. An addict who longs for recovery needs a ton of support. Without it, chances for a total recovery are slim.

31. Weak, AJR

One sip, bad for me. One hit, bad for me. One kiss, bad for me. But I give in so easily and ‘No, thank you’ is how it should've gone. I should stay strong.

This song is about the constant temptations facing any addict. The person has to be constantly on the lookout to make sure they don’t fall off the wagon.

32. Chemical Prisoner, Falling In Reverse

It's so hard to be together. And I try, and I try. But it won't get better. Forever. Days go, days go by. I won't die, I won't die ’cause I must, I must try forever.

This song has the same message as the previous one. It is about the never-ending struggle of staying sober despite all of the temptations surrounding an addict.

It also speaks about the fatal consequences of a drug overdose and the pain of losing a friend or loved one due to substance abuse.

33. Medicine, Daughter

You've got a warm heart. You've got a beautiful brain. But it's disintegrating from all the medicine.

This is a heartbreaking song about how a person changes drastically due to drug abuse. In the song, a wonderful person deteriorates physically and mentally once they become addicted.

34. Sober, Demi Lovato

I'm sorry that I'm here again. I promise I'll get help. It wasn't my intention. I'm sorry to myself.

Demi Lovato went through a detox program to help overcome her addiction to alcohol and prescription drugs. However, six years after going sober, she got introduced to hard drugs and found that she was addicted to those, as well.

She wrote this song, which seems to be her apology to family and fans for not being able to stay sober.

Her situation demonstrates the difficulties faced by people who have addictions but also want to recover.

35. The Needle Lies, Queensrÿche

Don't ever trust the needle. It lies.

This song tells of the terrible things that can happen in the life of a person who becomes addicted to drugs or other substances.

It is a reminder of the deceptive nature of addictive substances, and how they can ruin your life.

Final Thoughts on Songs About Addiction

It’s difficult to break free from an addiction. A person who wants to become clean often needs a strong support system in order to succeed.

Hopefully, these songs about addiction can serve as inspiration to people trying to overcome drug or substance abuse, and let them know that they are not alone in their struggles.

We also hope these songs remind those who have already successfully recovered how far they’ve come.

If you enjoyed this song collection, you can also check out this article featuring movies about addiction to gain more perspective about this issue.

And if you’re looking for more song collections about specific topics, you can check out the following posts:

songs about addiction | addiction | song about addiction
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