20 Sad Songs About Losing a Loved One to Addiction


It’s hard to lose someone you love, regardless of the situation. This article is for those who have lost friends or family members to addiction. We hope that this list of songs brings some solace to you as you mourn your loss.

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We’ve tried to include songs on our list from a wide variety of genres. Even though some may be written by rock artists and others by country or Christian singers, they are all songs about death and loss. 

Rock and Alternative Songs About Losing Someone to Addiction

Unfortunately, the music industry has lots of stories about people suffering from addiction. Many songwriters have turned to music to share their personal stories of addiction. Here are some rock songs about drug or alcohol abuse. 

1. “Heroin” by Lou Reed

An addict is the speaker in this song by Lou Reed. He wishes that he could escape from the pull of heroin. One line says, “Heroin, be the death of me. Heroin, it’s my wife and it’s my life.”

2. “Needle and the Damage Done” by Neil Young

Neil Young wrote this song “Needle and the Damage Done” about watching friends in the industry die from addiction. “I watched the needle take another man. Gone, gone, the damage done,” Young wrote.

3. “People Who Died” by The Jim Carroll Band

This song begins, “Teddy sniffing glue he was 12 years old. Fell from the roof on East Two-nine.” It continues with a list of others who died as well as the cause of each death. The last line says, “They were all my friends, and they died.”

4. “Wasted Time” by Skid Row

You can feel the songwriter’s pain as he describes watching his friend become a shell of the person he once was. One stanza is particularly poignant: “paranoid delusions they haunt you. Where’s my friend I used to know? He’s all alone. He’s buried deep within a carcass, searching for a soul.”

5. “White Lightning” by Def Leppard

“White Lightning” describes drug addiction in this way: “You want to leave but you can’t let go. You want to stop but you can’t say no.” This song was written as a tribute to one of the band members who died of addiction. 

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Rap and Hip-Hop Songs About Losing Someone to Addiction

There are plenty of sad songs in the rap and hip-hop genres. Some are about violence; others are about living in poverty. There are also songs about drug and alcohol addiction. Here are a few to consider as you process the grief of losing your loved one to drug or alcohol addiction.

6. “Once an Addict” by J. Cole

The songwriter describes his mother’s alcoholism in “Once an Addict.” This heartbreaking song has the following line: “I gotta leave this house ’cause part of me dies when I see her like this. Too young to deal with pain. I’d rather run the streets than see her kill herself.”

7. “Swimming Pools” by Kendrick Lamar

While this song isn’t about a person’s death, it is about Kendrick Lamar’s views of alcohol. The rapper refers to his grandfather’s alcohol addiction. At the same time, it also talks about societal pressure (especially in the music industry) to drink alcohol. “Swimming Pools” would definitely speak to someone who experienced loss as the result of alcoholism. 

8. “How Could You Leave Us” by NF

“How Could You Leave Us” tells the rapper’s story of his mother who was addicted to pills. He talks about how his mother was not present during meaningful events of his life and how painful it was to watch her die from the addiction. 

9. “Going Through Changes” by Eminem

Eminem writes about his drug use in “Going Through Changes.” Happily, this song has a positive ending since the rapper turned to healthier habits in later years. 

10. “Rehab” by Machine Gun Kelly

The song “Rehab” is not nearly as optimistic as “Going Through Changes.” In it, Machine Gun Kelly describes his and his significant other’s addictive lifestyle. The song begins, “Yeah, can we please start over, now that we’re both sober? Even though, that won’t last long.

I swear this love is a sad song.”

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Country Songs About Losing Someone to Addiction

The country music industry also has quite a few songs about addiction. While some are lighthearted, like “All My Rowdy Friends Have Settled Down,” or “I’m Gonna Hire a Wino,” other songs are serious accounts of addiction and death. 

11. “Whiskey Lullaby” by Brad Paisley

“Whiskey Lullaby” is about a broken-hearted man who dies from drinking too much whiskey. One stanza says, “We found him with his face down in the pillow with a note that said ‘I’ll love her till I die.’ And when we buried him beneath the willow, the angels sang a whiskey lullaby.”

12. “Walk a Little Straighter, Daddy” by Billy Cunningham

Are you looking for a song that describes what it feels like to be a child of an alcoholic? This song certainly fits that bill. In it, a son describes watching his father leave his graduation even before he receives his diploma. Children of alcoholics often tell how their parents aren’t there at pivotal moments in their lives. 

13. “Hurt” by Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash not only witnessed drug addiction through his friends, but he also suffered from his own drug and alcohol addiction. He released this iconic cover of Trent Reznor’s “Hurt” in 2002 and died in 2003. 

14. “Wasted” by Carrie Underwood

Not all songs about addiction have an unhappy ending. The speaker in this song pours the glass of whiskey down the drain instead of drinking it. She says that she doesn’t want to realize that she wasted her life being addicted to alcohol.

15. “She Took a Lot of Pills (and Died)” by Robbie Fulks

This song tells the story of a Hollywood starlet who has a brief moment of fame. Unfortunately, her beauty did not last, and no one wanted to hire in the movie industry anymore. She then took a lot of pills and died.  

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Pop Songs About Losing Someone to Addiction

As you can see from some of the previous examples, some songwriters write about the addiction of friends and family members, and others write about their own addictive behaviors. For those who write about their issues with drugs and alcohol, some seem to predict their own demise.

Here are some pop songs about losing someone to addiction.

16. “Rehab” by Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse’s song “Rehab” is about someone who refuses to get help because she doesn’t want to be away from her lover while in rehab. Unfortunately, not too long after this song came out, Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning.

17. “The A Team” by Ed Sheeran

This song by Ed Sheeran is about a woman who began using drugs at 18. He met her in a homeless shelter and said that her “face seems slowly sinking, wasting. Crumbling like pastries.” 

18. “Jane Says” by Jane’s Addiction

Jane’s Addiction’s name came from a real-life person named Jane, who really did suffer from addiction. The woman lived with members of the group, and Jane’s addiction became like another roommate. 

The good news is that the real-life Jane found help and kicked her addiction. 

19. “Running to Stand Still” by U2

This song was written about a drug-addicted couple living in Ireland. The song concludes with the following lyrics: “She is ragin’, she is raging. And the storm blows up in her eyes. She will suffer the needle chill. She’s running to stand still.”

20. “Habit” by Pearl Jam

It’s not clear what habit Pearl Jam is singing about in this song, but we know that it isn’t a positive one. This song was released in 1996. 

It’s Hard to Say Goodbye

We know how hard it is to say goodbye to a friend or family member. While all grief comes with a wide variety of emotions, losing someone due to drug or alcohol abuse may make you incredibly angry or frustrated. 

Perhaps some of these songs will help you as you sort out your feelings. You may also want to read some books on grief and visit with a counselor or minister. 

If your friend or family member is currently suffering from addiction, you may want to read about ambiguous loss as well. You may also want to seek the advice of a counselor on how to help your friend. 


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