15 Songs About Addiction and Recovery
The music we listen to is the soundtrack for our lives. They can be direct reflections of past memories both good and bad. Listening to music creates nostalgia and offers a sense of acceptance when you can directly relate to the lyrics and emotions in a particular track.
Music can help guide you through the recovery process and provide stability as you move through your journey. Here is a list of 20 songs about addiction recovery and some insight into their direct meaning.
Songs About Substance Abuse
It Ain't Me - Kygo & Selena Gomez
The lyrics of this track are a direct reflection of how a relationship can break down as a result of addiction. The track was written by Andrew Watt, Brian Lee, and Ali Tamposi.
As the track goes on the chorus line states “Who’s gonna walk you through the dark side of the morning?” “It ain’t me.” This is a declaration that she’s leaving. Addiction can cause our closest relationships to end.
The A Team - Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran has said that the song came from a specific experience he had when performing at a homeless shelter. He wanted to write it in such a way that would make you not realize what’s going on, because “it’s quite dark”.
This relates back to one woman named Angel, a woman who attended his show. She was addicted to crack/cocaine and Sheeren referred to it as a ‘Class A drug’ in the same category as heroin. After his experience at the homeless shelter, Sheeran immediately went home and wrote this track.
Rehab - Amy Winehouse
Like most individuals suffering from active addiction will attest, you can be blinded to what you truly need. This song is a direct reflection of that. Amy Winehouse famously wrestled with addiction and ultimately lost her life as a result of alcohol poisoning. The song was produced by Mark Ronson who tells the story about how Amy’s father tried to intervene with her addiction and asked her to attend rehab and her response was “Pfftt, no no no.” Many who have heard the track know that’s a signature line.
Sober - Tool
Tool guitarist Adam Jones stated that the track was written to discuss a close friend of the band who seemed to only be able to tap into his creativity when he was engaging in substance abuse.
The music video was animated to show a somber, sad little human-like creature who lives in what appears to be an abandoned house that has not been maintained. Throughout the video, the creature visits a wooden box that appears to give him mind-altering effects. This is displayed by his arms and head shaking violently.
Not an Addict - K's Choice
The song originated from Lead Singer Sam Bettens’ previous experience with drug abuse. While the singer stated he never had an issue with hard drugs, he claims it was because he was scared it would make him lose touch with reality. When the song was released the band was concerned that people might consider the song to be pro-drugs, when in reality it’s not really pro or against drug use, but rather a reflection on addiction.
Interstate Love Song - Stone Temple Pilots
Lead singer Scott Weiland wrote this song as a reflection of his substance abuse problems, specifically surrounding heroin. While writing the track, he was acknowledging the kind of person he had become to his fiance.
The story goes that the band was in Atlanta recording the album “Purple” and Scott had promised his fiance that he wouldn’t use heroin while he was away but ultimately did. The title of the song is not in the lyrics but rather a play on words as his fiance was in California and he was in Atlanta.
Pawn Shop - Sublime
The lead singer and guitarist Brad Nowell of Sublime had a serious heroin addiction that ultimately took his life. This song was actually a remake of the reggae track “War Deh Round a John Shop.” The song was remade to reflect how Brad had become so into drugs that he’d often pawn his guitar for drug money.
His producer, Miguel Happoldt, would go into the shop minutes later and buy back his guitar. The song and why it was created are a direct reflection on how drug abuse can take over your life, and how people often enable addictive behaviors under the false hope that something will eventually change.
Sugarcane - Space Monkeys
Sugarcane is an upbeat track that discusses the peaks and valleys associated with abusing crack. Lyrics like “But beneath my skin and along my spine, I could feel a fleet of cockroaches prying.” “Waiting for me to take my first hit.” discuss how active crack addiction feels.
The singer goes on to discuss some of the more euphoric effects but also how low you feel afterward. Ultimately during the chorus, it’s reiterated, “I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna go insane.”
Swimming Pools (Drank) - Kendrick Lamar
The title of this track was used as a metaphor to describe alcoholism. At the beginning of the track, Kendrick reflects on how he grew up around people who drank regularly. He also expresses some of the social pressure related to alcohol as well as how it used to self-medicate.
The song involves lyrics like “Some people wanna kill their sorrows” and “some people wanna fit in with the popular”. The music video for the song actually ends with someone getting shot in the aftermath of drunkenness. The focus message of the song is that alcohol abuse is a misleading thrill that can ultimately lead to terrible consequences.
Semi-Charmed Life - Third Eye Blind
While this song boasts a poppy upbeat melody the lyrics paint a much darker picture than most actually realize. This was a smash hit song in 1997 written by the Third Eye Blind lead singer Stephen Jenkins that discusses abusing crystal meth.
In fact, Jenkins stated in interviews that the song was purposely written in a way to be deceptive as it is a direct reflection of how methamphetamines make a person feel. Behind the music is something much darker. Active addiction clouds your judgment, and Third Eye Blind reflects on those feelings here.
Circle the Drain - Katy Perry
Katy Perry wrote this track as a direct reflection on what it is like to date someone who is in active addiction. She discusses how she thought she could change his behavior, but when she realizes that she can’t she decides she won’t be the person to watch him “go down.”
The song includes the following lyrics: “Can’t be your savior, I don’t have the power” and “I’m not gonna stay and watch you circle the drain.” It’s difficult to watch someone you love struggle with addiction, and substance abuse often costs people their closest relationships.
Songs About Addiction Recovery
Sober - Pink
‘Sober’ was written as an expression of the desire to feel uninhibited without having to use drugs or alcohol. Pink explained that she came up with the idea while she was at a party in her own home.
She had the line “How do I feel this good sober?” replaying in her head. Pink also stated that the track has a bigger meaning than just substance abuse but that we all have vices and in engaging in them we think we’re finding meaning but in reality, we’re taking ourselves farther from the truth.
Not Afraid - Eminem
This track from Eminem reflects a more positive, uplifting mood that the rapper doesn’t often display. The singer raps about how he has overcome his own personal demons which included drug addiction. He also goes on to admit some of his own shortcomings and mistakes and declares that he wants to focus on his family and his art. ‘Not Afraid’ is a power track that provides inspiration that the path to sobriety and redemption is possible.
This is Me Trying - Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift’s eighth studio album is a reflection on the emotions a person wrestles with after giving up drug and alcohol abuse. “They told me all my cages were mental, so I got wasted like my potential,” is a reflection of how people typically engage in substance abuse to deal with difficult emotions and problems.
However, the chorus states “This is me trying, at least I’m trying,” an indication that the individual is working towards overcoming addiction. This is a great track that reflects on the effort it takes to move forward with sobriety.
Breaking the Habit - Linken Park
Mike Shinoda, one of the lead vocalists for the band had been trying to write a song for some time regarding this topic. He said he was inspired by the multitude of fans that had reached out and expressed how much the band’s music had helped them through behavioral health issues. The song explores the vicious cycles often associated with behavioral health challenges and internal struggles people face.
About Music and Substance Abuse
There are many other songs about addiction and recovery as music is ultimately a reflection of society and substance abuse is not uncommon. Undoubtedly, anyone should be able to find songs about addiction recovery in the genre that appeals most to them. Finding music that reflects how you feel can help you heal.
How Music Can Help You Recover
Music therapy is often used as part of holistic addiction treatment as it provides the opportunity for self-expression. Music is a powerful tool that helps you tap into emotions and feelings that you may not have known you had. This can be helpful in recovery as you’re trying to find ways to express the way you feel and explore new methods of coping. It can also help you communicate better with loved ones and therapists if you’re having difficulty talking about how you feel.
Jaywalker Lodge Offers Comprehensive Addiction Treatment in Colorado
At Jaywalker Lodge, we offer a structured path for recovery for anyone suffering from addiction. While we do utilize evidence-based treatment methods we have a system for recovery that is deeply tied into the 12-step methodology and requires dedication from all participants.
We take addiction treatment seriously and focus each treatment plan on the individual. To learn more about our programs contact us today.