Rehab playlist: 10 songs about addiction and recovery

Amy Winehouse
Amy Winehouse, pictured in 2008. Getty Images

TORONTO — In the wake of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford‘s announcement that he is stepping aside to receive treatment for substance abuse, people across the country are talking about addiction and recovery.

It’s a topic the music world has explored for decades — so perhaps Ford can draw some inspiration from this playlist of 10 songs about addiction and recovery.

“Animal I Have Become” – Three Days Grace

This 2006 single from the band’s album One-X is about how singer Adam Gontier’s addiction to OxyContin made him angry and abusive. The song was written while Gontier was in rehab.

“One Day at a Time” – Joe Walsh

At live shows, the Eagles guitarist has introduced this song as being about “learning how to live my life without my best friend, vodka.” Walsh has been in recovery since 1995.

“Under the Bridge” – Red Hot Chili Peppers

This 1991 song, still one of the band’s biggest hits, was written by Anthony Kiedis about the impact drugs had on his life and how it lead to feelings of loneliness. The titular bridge refers to a place in Los Angeles where he went to buy drugs.

Story continues below advertisement

“That Smell” – Lynyrd Skynyrd

Ronnie Van Zant and Allen Collins explained they wrote this song about the night guitarist Gary Rossington got drunk and high and crashed his car into a tree. The lyrics warn: “Tomorrow might not be here for you.” (Days after the song was released, Van Zant was killed in a plane crash.)

“Captain Jack” – Billy Joel

Joel has described this song from his 1973 album Piano Man as an “anti-drug song” inspired by watching inner-city teens scoring drugs from a dealer named Captain Jack. Joel sings: “So you play your albums / and you smoke your pot / and you meet your girlfriend in the parking lot / Oh but still you’re aching for the things you haven’t got / What went wrong?”

“Hate Me” – Blue October

Released in 2006, this song starts with a voice mail message from singer Justin Furstenfeld’s mother at the peak of his drug addiction. He has said the song is an apology to the people he hurt. “When you’re in a low place, you don’t really think about other people,” Furstenfeld said.

Story continues below advertisement

“Cold Turkey” – John Lennon

The ex-Beatles singer said he recorded this song in 1969 after he and Yoko Ono quit heroin “cold turkey.” (Lennon’s personal assistant later said the song is actually about food poisoning the singer suffered after eating turkey leftovers.)

“Rehab” – Amy Winehouse

Winehouse died five years after this song was released in 2006. As the lyrics explain, it’s about her refusal to attend alcohol rehabilitation at the urging of her management team.

“Mr. Self Destruct” – Nine Inch Nails

Written by NIN frontman Trent Reznor, this song is deals with the powers of addiction and feelings of guilt and fear. “I am the high you can’t sustain,” Reznor sings, “and I control you.”

“Because I Got High” – Afroman

If Ford needs a reminder why he’s in rehab, he need only crank up the volume on this 2000 track from Afroman.