100 Inspiring Recovery Quotes

Lauren Smith
Written by Lauren Smith on 20 September 2022

Whether you are just starting your journey towards addiction recovery or are looking for motivation during long-term sobriety; sometimes inspirational words from others can help to keep focused on the goal at hand. These 100 inspiring quotes can help everyone through each step on the road to recovery.

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Quotes to help with addiction recovery

These 100 quotes can help you understand why you turn to alcohol or drugs, galvanize you to confront your substance abuse, and inspire you to fix it. They can lend you strategies as you work toward sobriety, pick you up when you relapse, help you when your recovery feels tenuous, even when you're holding a 10-year sobriety chip, and, in dark times, make you feel less alone.

As you read through these quotes, a few will resonate. Maybe they hold a mirror to your existence, are particularly effective at dismantling your denial, or allow you to think of yourself and your addiction in a new way. Jot those few quotes down, in a notebook or on your phone. As you move toward recovery, or just renew your grasp on it, remind yourself of those words. They can be a comforting shoulder—or a bracing reality check—when you need it most.

Addiction recovery quotes

Whether you’re just wondering if recovery is possible for you or shoring up your sobriety after decades in recovery, these words will remind you why addiction is so destructive and hard to evict from your life—and why that fight is always worth it.

Overcoming addiction is possible

  1. “Addiction, at its worst, is akin to having Stockholm Syndrome. You’re like a hostage who has developed an irrational affection for your captor. They can abuse you, torture you, even threaten to kill you, and you’ll remain inexplicably and disturbingly loyal.” - Anne Clendening, writer and yoga instructor
  2. “An addict is someone who uses their body to tell society that something is wrong.” - Stella Adler, actress
  3. “Asking for help is really the beginning of any sort of recovery process.” - Marc Maron, comedian
  4. “I live in negotiation with a shadow side that has to be respected. There is a wound. I believe that this is more than a characteristic of addiction. I think it is a part of being human, to carry a wound, a flaw and again, paradoxically, it is only by accepting it that we can progress.” - Russell Brand, comedian and actor
  5. “Remember just because you hit bottom doesn’t mean you have to stay there.” – Robert Downey Jr.
  6. “Recovery is something that you have to work on every single day and it’s something that doesn’t get a day off.” - Demi Lovato, singer and actress
  7. “Nobody stays recovered unless the life they have created is more rewarding and satisfying than the one they left behind.” - Anne Fletcher, addiction specialist
  8. “The goal isn’t to be sober. The goal is to love yourself so much that you don’t need to drink.” – Unknown
  9. “Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” - J.K. Rowling, author
  10. “I really mean when I say my biggest fear in early recovery was that I would never have fun again. The beautiful truth is that recovery has given me freedom and the confidence to go out in the world and leave my own mark.” – Tom Stoddart, photojournalist
  11. “Recovery is not simple abstinence. It’s about healing the brain, remembering how to feel, learning how to make good decisions, becoming the kind of person who can engage in healthy relationships, cultivating the willingness to accept help from others, daring to be honest, and opening up to doing.” - Debra Jay, addiction specialists
  12. “Being a drug addict in recovery is actually a great place to be because you’re forced to be looking at the rancid layers of the onion that you’ve been carrying around for a lifetime. Whatever degree of struggle it offers me, I’m actually grateful for. It keeps me working towards change, it gives me the desire for change” - Anthony Kiedis, rockstar

Overcoming addiction quotes

Addiction can feel like a black hole, particularly if you’ve tried to quit before and failed or relapsed. But you can escape and build a different life, no matter how many times you stumble.

To overcome addiction, you need to decide it internally, casting aside your previous denials and excuses and abandoning your old patterns of thinking and ways of life. But you're not an island. Beating addiction also requires you to have the strength to ask for help when you can't do it alone.

  1. “If you can quit for a day, you can quit for a lifetime.” - Benjamin Alire Saenz, writer
  2.  “The initial journey towards sobriety is a delicate balance between insight into one's desire for escape and abstinence from one's addiction,” Debra L. Kaplan, therapist
  3. “All the suffering, stress, and addiction comes from not realizing you already are what you are looking for.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn, doctor and author
  4. “Thinking about not drinking forever was very scary, but once I did it wasn’t hard anymore because I had all of these miracles happen that let me know I was on exactly the right path.” - Lana Del Rey, singer-songwriter
  5. “Addiction is an adaptation. It’s not you–it’s the cage you live in.” - Johann Hari, writer
  6. “Job one is get out of that cave. A lot of people do get out but don't change. So the thing is to get out and recognize the significance of that aggressive denial of your fate, come through the crucible forged into a stronger metal.” - Robert Downey Jr, actor
  7. “Don't pick up a drink or drug, one day at a time. It actually is simple, but it isn't easy: it requires incredible support and fastidious structuring.” - Russell Brand
  8. “That inner dialogue proves to us, 'You're not capable of change. You are weak. You're staying stuck.' And when you break that cycle, the empowerment that comes out of it, that says, 'I'm not weak, I'm actually strong, I've proven to myself that I am capable of change,' and I believe people are capable of big changes." - Drew Barrymore, actress
  9. “People who go through rehab or a halfway house walk a tough road together and not all of them make it. We knew we faced a powerful adversary that demanded respect. Unlike combat, the adversary was inside us.” - Rob Delaney, comedian and actor
  10. “As I’ve had to remind myself, if you have a problem, getting help is a sign of courage, not weakness or failure. With acceptance and humility, I continue to avail myself with the help of so many people and I am grateful to all those who are there for me. I hope down the road I can offer an example to others who are struggling.” - Ben Affleck, actor

Celebrity recovery quotes

Addiction can feel like a shameful secret, a place of isolation, a mark of failure. But some of the world’s most successful celebrities have struggled with the same urges and overcome them. Many have shared their experiences of despair, self-destruction, resilience, and recovery to inspire others fighting similar battles and to assure them they’re not alone.

  1. “I change when I’m drunk. I’m one of those people who changes…There is something in any person who drinks in a way that’s clearly not good for them, something that is attracted to that chaos.” - Daniel Radcliffe, actor
  2. “Getting sober was the single bravest thing I’ve ever done, and will ever do, in my life. Being courageous enough to acknowledge it privately with my family and friends. Working really hard at solidifying it, getting support around it, and being healthy. And then talking about it publicly. That is the single greatest accomplishment of my life.” -Jamie Lee Curtis, actress
  3. “The idea that the creative endeavor and mind-altering substances are entwined is one of the great pop-intellectual myths of our time… Substance abusing writers are just substance abusers —common garden variety drunks and druggies, in other words.” - Stephen King, writer
  4. “I realized that I only had two choices: I was either going to die, or I was going to live, and which one did I want to do? And then I said those words, ‘I’ll get help,’ or, ‘I need help. I’ll get help.’ And my life turned around. Ridiculous for a human being to take 16 years to say, ‘I need help.’” - Elton John, singer and composer
  5. “I couldn’t believe that anybody could be naturally happy without being on something. So I would say to anybody, ‘It does get better.’” - Eminem, rapper
  6. “Sometimes you can only find Heaven by slowly backing away from Hell.” - Carrie Fisher, actress
  7. “Like, at first it’s fine and you think you have a dark side – it’s exciting – and then you realize the dark side wins every time if you decide to indulge in it. - Lana Del Rey, singer-songwriter
  8. “I don't drink or do drugs anymore. I realized I wasn't going to live up to my potential, and that scared the hell out of me. I thought, 'Wow, I'm actually gonna ruin my life. I'm really gonna ruin it.’” - Bradley Cooper, actor and filmmaker
  9. “I got sober. I stopped killing myself with alcohol. I began to think: ‘Wait a minute – if I can stop doing this, what are the possibilities?’ And slowly it dawned on me that it was maybe worth the risk.” ― Craig Ferguson, television host

Sobriety quotes

Sobriety isn’t dull, sanctimonious, or churchy. Rather it is the conditions for a radically better life, with robust health, positive relationships, and the time and energy to both fulfill your responsibilities and pursue your passions. 

  1. “Your best days are ahead of you. The movie starts when the guy gets sober and puts his life back together; it doesn’t end there.” - Bucky Sinister, author
  2. “Somebody once asked me how I define sobriety, and my response was ‘liberation from dependence’.” - Leslie Jamison, author
  3. “Being in recovery has given me everything of value that I have in my life. Integrity, honesty, fearlessness, faith, a relationship with God, and most of all gratitude. It's given me a beautiful family and an amazing career. I'm under no illusions where I would be without the gift of alcoholism and the chance to recover from it.” - Rob Lowe, actor
  4. “When I got sober, I thought giving up was saying goodbye to all the fun and all the sparkle, and it turned out to be just the opposite. That’s when the sparkle started for me.” - Mary Karr, poet
  5. “I chose sober because I wanted a better life. I stay sober because I got one’ – Unknown
  6. “[Without sobriety] I would never be sitting here with you, no way, no chance. I never would have been able to have the relationships that I do. I never would have been able to take care of my father the way I did when he was sick. So many things." - Bradley Cooper, actor and filmmaker
  7. “Getting sober is a radically creative act.”― Meredith Bell, author
  8. “I think it’s important for me to show the world that sobriety hasn’t made me soft. I’m on a mission to prove I’m still a nutcase.”― Steve-O, television personality

Alcoholism quotes

Alcoholism is an insidious addiction: the social and special occasion drinking most people indulge in escalates into dependence for a minority. But while millions of people have fallen prey to alcohol, millions have also broken free from its shackles, including many of the people behind these quotes.

  1. "First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you." - F. Scott Fitzgerald, author
  2. “I once heard a sober alcoholic say that drinking never made him happy, but it made him feel like he was going to be happy in about fifteen minutes. That was exactly it, and I couldn’t understand why the happiness never came, couldn’t see that alcohol kept me trapped in a world of illusion, procrastination, paralysis. I lived always in the future, never in the present. Next time, next time! Next time I drank it would be different, next time it would make me feel good again. And all my efforts were doomed because already drinking hadn’t made me feel good in years.” - Heather King, author
  3. “I wanted a drink [because] I didn’t want to feel what I was feeling, and a voice within was telling me that I needed a drink, that I couldn’t bear it without it. But that voice is a liar. You can always bear the pain. It’ll hurt, it’ll burn like acid in an open wound, but you can stand it. And, as long as you can make yourself go on choosing the pain over the relief, you can keep going.” - Lawrence Block, author
  4. “The problem of alcohol is, it’s just too easy. It’s everywhere. At least hard drugs, you have to have a dealer. All I know is, I could feel its presence in an ominous, daunting way that was preventing me from being my higher self.” – Ben Harper, singer-songwriter
  5. “When was the last time you woke up and wished you’d had just one more drink the night before? I have never regretted not drinking. Say this to yourself, and you’ll get through anything.” - Meredith Bell, author
  6. “When I was growing up, when I thought of an alcoholic, I thought of some toothless old guy in a trench coat in a basement somewhere. I just never thought that would apply to me. That type of stigma kept me from getting the help that I needed when I knew I needed it.” - Joe Manganiello, actor
  7. “I was mad at that bottle. At how it allowed me to stay complacent and numb.” - Jessica Simpson, singer
  8. “For people who drink too much, the problem isn't really about booze. It's about an inability to deal with life ... What giving up booze does is allow you to look at yourself through an untainted mirror for the first time.” - Collin Farrel, actor
  9. “Rehab isn’t what finally got me sober. It was nearly losing everything and finally seeing that whatever benefit I thought alcohol gave me was outweighed by what it would cost me… ‘You’re removing the capacity to be present, not just in the bad moments.’ You’re numbing the good feelings. You’re numbing everything. It’s profoundly selfish.” – Elizabeth Vargas, television journalist
  10. “Alcoholism is a devastating, potentially fatal disease. The primary symptom of having it is telling everyone--including yourself—that you are not an alcoholic.” - Herbert L. Gravitz & Julie D. Bowden, authors
  11. “It’s been said that alcoholics are egomaniacs with low self-esteem. It’s the perfect description. Being larger than life and yet your pride is crushed with self-loathing.” - Gary Oldman, actor
  12. “I think once I made up my mind that I was allergic to alcohol, and that’s what I learned, it made sense to me. And I think it was kind of pointed out that you know if you were allergic to strawberries, you wouldn’t eat strawberries. And that made sense to me.”- Betty Ford

Drug abuse quote

These quotes grasp drug addiction in all its hues: from the early usage to numb pain and loneliness, to the sinking into physical dependency and the erosion of your self-esteem and all other plans for your life. These words remind us that drugs don’t intensify life, enhance creativity, and bring us joy but rather do the polar opposite. They remind us why we strive towards recovery, even when it feels very far away.

  1. “At first, addiction is maintained by pleasure, but the intensity of the pleasure gradually diminishes and addiction is then maintained by the avoidance of pain.” - Frank Tallis, psychologist
  2. “I used to think a drug addict was someone who lived on the far edges of society. Wild-eyed, shaven-headed and living in a filthy squat. That was until I became one.” - Cathryn Kemp, writer
  3. “Most addicts I have talked to report a similar experience. They did not start using drugs for any reason they can remember. They just drifted along until they got hooked. If you have never been addicted, you can have no clear idea what it means to need junk with the addict’s special need. You don’t decide to be an addict. One morning you wake up sick and you’re an addict.“ - William S. Burroughs, writer
  4.  “Drugs are a waste of time. They destroy your memory and your self-respect and everything that goes along with with your self esteem.” - Kurt Cobain, rockstar
  5. “People use drugs, legal and illegal, because their lives are intolerably painful or dull. They hate their work and find no rest in their leisure. They are estranged from their families and their neighbors. It should tell us something that in healthy societies drug use is celebrative, convivial, and occasional, whereas among us it is lonely, shameful, and addictive. We need drugs, apparently, because we have lost each other.” - Wendell Berry, writer
  6. “Not all addictions are rooted in abuse or trauma, but I do believe they can all be traced to painful experience. A hurt is at the center of all addictive behaviors.“ – Gabor Mate, doctor and addiction expert
  7. “I’ve wanted to feel pleasure to the point of insanity. They call it getting high because it's wanting to know that higher level, that godlike level. You want to touch the heavens, you want to feel glory and euphoria, but the trick is it takes work. You can't buy it, you can't get it on a street corner, you can't steal it or inject it or shove it up your ass, you have to earn it.” - Anthony Kiedis, rockstar
  8.  “There’s not a drug on Earth that can make life meaningful.” – Sarah Kane, playwright
  9. “People always want to ask me about my drug problem—I never had a drug problem; I had a self-esteem problem!” - Gloria Gaynor, singer
  10. “That’s at least in part why I ingested chemical waste—it was a kind of desire to abbreviate myself. To present the CliffNotes of the emotional me, as opposed to the twelve-column read. I used to refer to my drug use as putting the monster in the box. I wanted to be less, so I took more—simple as that.” - Carrie Fisher, actress

Recovery daily quotes and mantras

Many people find mantras and affirmations helpful in their recovery: reciting them throughout the day, using them during meditation and prayer, finding comfort and inspiration in the words in times of strain. Mantras aren’t just empty words: they can alter how we perceive and interact with our reality. By repeatedly reinforcing a positive statement—that recovery is possible and we are deserving of it—we can gradually change our mindset and from there change our lives. 

The best mantras are not fanciful or idealistic but rather practical and dynamic, pointing the way toward personal change. Here are some tried and true options.

  1. “You’re not responsible for your disease, but you are responsible for your behavior.”
  2.  “Sobriety is a journey, not a destination.”
  3. “I can change my story.”
  4. “I deserve to be sober.”
  5. “I refuse to give up on myself.”
  6. “Failure is a stepping stone.”
  7.  “What I do today creates a better tomorrow.”
  8. “I am becoming who I want to be.”
  9. “I am worthy of inner peace.”
  10. “I accept myself completely.”

Quotes for self-love

Addiction is often rooted in poor self-esteem, which then erodes further as you fail to stop using, feel stigma and shame, and neglect your physical and mental health. Self-love is crucial to your recovery, helping you tend to your needs, forgive yourself, and work towards a better life.

  1. “One of the hardest things was learning that I was worth recovery.” - Demi Lovato, actress and singer
  2. “I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self-indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival.” - Audre Lorde, writer and womanist
  3. “The real difficulty is to overcome how you think about yourself.” - Maya Angelou, poet and activist
  4. “In order to love who you are, you cannot hate the experiences that shaped you.” - Andrea Dykstra, author
  5. “Love is the great miracle cure. Loving ourselves works miracles in our lives.” - Louise Hay, motivational author
  6. “Self-love is an ocean, and your heart is a vessel. Make it full, and any excess will spill over into the lives of the people you hold dear. But you must come first.” - Beau Taplin, author
  7. “It took many years of vomiting up all the filth I'd been taught about myself, and half-believed, before I was able to walk on this earth as though I had a right to be here." – James Baldwin, writer
  8. “Lighten up on yourself. No one is perfect. Gently accept your humanness.” - Deborah Day, author
  9. “Forgiving yourself, believing in yourself, and choosing to love yourself are the best gifts one could receive.” - Brittany Burgunder, author
  10. “Self-care is never a selfish act—it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others.” - Parker Palmer, writer and speaker

Quotes for finding strength during recovery

Recovering from addiction requires great fortitude and perseverance. However, you have that strength within yourself. If you find yourself wavering, be buoyed by the love of your family and friends, guided by the advice of recovered addicts who have walked the same path, and encouraged by these quotes.

Finding strength for overcoming addiction can come in many forms

  1. “We do not have to become heroes overnight. Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it is not as dreadful as it appeared, discovering we have the strength to stare it down.” - Eleanor Roosevelt, first lady
  2. “When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” - Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company
  3. “Sometimes when in a dark place you think you’ve been buried, when actually you’ve been planted.’ - Christine Caine, author
  4. “Sometimes we motivate ourselves by thinking of what we want to become. Sometimes we motivate ourselves by thinking about who we don’t ever want to be again.” - Shane Niemeyer, athlete and motivational speaker
  5.  “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” - Khalil Gibran, writer
  6. “The way to measure your progress is backward against where you started, not against your ideal.” - Dan Sullivan, entrepreneur
  7. “When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure.” - Peter Marshall, minister
  8. “We don’t even know how strong we are until we are forced to bring that hidden strength forward.” - Isabel Allende, writer
  9. “Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” - Arnold Schwarzenegger, actor and politician
  10. “The human capacity for burden is like bamboo—far more flexible than you’d ever believe at first glance.” - Jodi Picoult, writer

Quotes for helping others

The final step in 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) is to spread the message to other people living with addiction. By helping others into recovery, you’re reminded of your own progress, shake off any complacency in your sobriety, stay accountable, and find happiness and fulfillment.

  1. “I’ve been the lead in movies, on television shows and nominated for Emmy. But the best thing I can say about me is that people who can't stop drinking come up to me and say, 'Can you help me? ' And I can say, 'Yes. '" - Matthew Perry, actor
  2. “What was so painful about Amy [Winehouse]’s death is that I know that there is something I could have done. I could have passed on to her the solution that was freely given to me. Don’t pick up a drink or drug, one day at a time. It sounds so simple; it actually is simple but it isn’t easy; it requires incredible support and fastidious structuring.” - Russell Brand, comedian
  3. “The healthy person finds happiness in helping others. Thus, for him, unselfishness is selfish.” - Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) saying
  4. “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” - Mahatma Gandhi
  5. “Set your heart on doing good. Do it over and over again, and you will be filled with joy.” – Buddha
  6. “An effort made for the happiness of others lifts us above ourselves.” - Lydia M. Child, abolitionist
  7. “In helping others, we shall help ourselves, for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us.” - Flora Edwards
  8. “If you get, give. If you learn, teach.”– Maya Angelou, poet and activist
  9. “If you light a lamp for somebody, it will also brighten your path.”– Buddha
  10. “Dare to reach out your hand into the darkness, to pull another hand into the light.”– Norman B. Rice, politician

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