My Top Five Female Recovery Memoirs

Women face an obstacle men don’t when they share their alcohol or substance abuse issue—the idea that virtuous women aren’t susceptible to addiction.

mem-storyApproximately a year ago, I wrote a piece for The Fixon my Top Four Recovery Memoirs. All four of the books were written by male authors. In the year or so since writing that article, I have read quite a few addiction memoirs by women.

As with the books I shared a year ago, many of these female authors touched me deeply with their honesty and courage. What struck me about these authors was the additional obstacles they faced in sharing their experience with alcohol and substance misuse—the idea that virtuous women aren’t susceptible to addiction. In other words, good girls don’t drink. By opening up about their struggles with substance abuse, they also opened a Pandora’s box of how differently we, as a society, view women who drink.

Statistically, women don’t recover from alcoholism at nearly the rate men do. A study in Germany concluded that alcoholism was twice as fatal for women as for men. The women in the German study with alcohol addiction were five times more likely to die during the 14-year period of the study than women in the general population.

As a culture, we often judge women with addiction issues far more harshly than we do with men. Alcohol advertising often portrays men drinking as a bonding experience, while portraying women who drink as sexual predators or, at the very least, sexually objectified (“if she is going to get drunk, she is asking for it”). Though it’s difficult for anyone with a substance abuse issue to ask for help, it is that much more difficult for a woman, who often bears an additional, gender specific stigma.

Women who have written about their struggles with substance abuse, therefore, can offer a unique look into the problems women specifically face in finding support. Here’s a list of some of my favorite recovery memoirs by female writers. These women are not just talented writers but essential voices that speak to the unique experiences of the female alcoholic.

I had the opportunity to follow up with all but one of the women on my list and their insights, I believe, are truly enlightening. Read more “the fix”…


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