9 inspiring quotes about addiction and recovery

Quotes have a unique way of speaking directly to our souls. They compress wisdom into a few words, providing comfort, inspiration and direction. In the context of addiction recovery, inspiring quotes can become personal mantras, guiding lights during dark moments and lifelines when things seem at their most bleak.

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The following nine quotes – some from celebrated figures, others anonymous; some directly about recovery, others affirming universal truths – can be the guideposts for all journeying through the complex paths of addiction and recovery.



Abraham Lincoln


Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, faced immense personal and political adversities yet showed unyielding perseverance. This quote is a call to action, a reminder that our destiny lies in our hands.

In recovery, it signifies the empowerment that comes from finally deciding to make a change. It is a reminder that regardless of the damage addiction caused in the past, you and you alone have the opportunity to decide your future.


Sir Elton John


Legendary musician Sir Elton John’s battles with substance abuse were public, but his resilience led him to a life of sobriety. This quote reinforces Lincoln’s words and also encapsulates a pivotal moment of realisation that many facing addiction grapple with.

It is often when things become truly unbearable, whether during withdrawal, relationship breakdowns, job loss or health issues, that the stark reality of our choices can become painfully evident. While “rock bottom” may seem like a hopeless place at first, it can be a clarifying moment, highlighting the urgency of seeking help and making a transformative change.

Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Author Benjamin Alire Sáenz reminds us that every monumental journey begins with a single step. Recovery is a continuous journey that can only be tackled one day at a time. By compartmentalising this journey – detox, rehab, aftercare and ongoing commitment – you create manageable milestones, making the larger goal achievable. By celebrating daily triumphs over addiction, each sober sunrise becomes both a testament to the past and a promise for the future.


Carl Bard

Regret and shame about addiction have anchored many to their past, however recovery is all about choosing to let the past go. Some of the key steps in the 12-step process are about forgiving yourself, understanding how addiction shaped your destructive behaviours and making amends with those who were hurt.

These can be challenging obstacles, but overcoming them allows you to cast off the weights that are holding you back and realise that the power to rewrite your story lies ahead, not behind.

Japanese proverb

One of the most important things to know when you begin addiction recovery is that relapse is often part of the journey. In fact, 40-60% of people relapse at least once after leaving rehab. But recovery is a testament to human resilience, and while relapses can be frustrating, they can be valuable lessons.

Learn to see each setback as an opportunity to learn, adjust your recovery plan and emerge stronger. This may mean going back to rehab, building a stronger support network or reaffirming your motivation for change. Whatever it takes, recovery is infinitely possible as long as you stand up just one more time than you fall.


Jean Kilbourne

Jean Kilbourne is a distinguished author, speaker and filmmaker known for her work on the representation of women in media. With these words, Kilbourne touches the very core of many people’s addictions, that they often emerge from a desire to escape pain or fill a void. However, this is never successful and ends up making the voids into gaping chasms.

A major part of recovery comes from realising that true hope and happiness come from within. Therapy approaches such as motivational interviewing and holistic approaches like mindfulness and yoga help to facilitate this internal journey of self-discovery. This makes external crutches like drugs and alcohol redundant, allowing you to put them behind you.


Albert Einstein


Einstein’s profound wisdom transcends the boundaries of physics. These words emphasise the need for introspection and change and explain that the patterns and choices that led to addiction cannot lead out of it. This means recognising triggers, breaking old habits and cultivating new perspectives.

Recognising your addiction triggers and navigating social pressures is particularly important. These can be people, places or situations, but until you understand the things in your life that are holding you back, you will never be able to move forward. Some triggers need avoiding, and others need more effective coping mechanisms, but by addressing each one by one, you can craft proactive strategies for each potential pitfall.

Chinese proverb


This ancient Chinese wisdom draws a direct line between emotions and actions. Many fall into addiction as a refuge from tumultuous emotions, and recognising and regulating these emotional whirlwinds is crucial for recovery. Whether your substance use is triggered by depressive feelings, trauma-based shame and sadness or anger about your life situation, once the emotions are in check, sobriety will follow.

Through therapeutic approaches like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), you can acquire the tools to navigate and regulate negative emotions. This is built on through dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) which adds mindfulness to CBT, enabling you to observe your emotions through a neutral lens without giving them power and acting on them.


Chinese proverb


This final quote speaks to the importance of remaining vigilant and not allowing yourself to become complacent on the recovery journey. After finishing rehab or achieving certain milestones, many people begin to tell themselves that they now have their addiction under control. This is incredibly dangerous as addiction is a lifelong illness that is always lurking under the surface, waiting for you to slip up.

Long after you leave the sanctuary of rehab, aftercare, support groups, and continuous learning are all crucial. Remember that recovery is not a destination; it is a continuous journey. Maintaining sobriety means always being on guard, continually reinforcing the lessons learned and seeking support when needed.

Final thoughts

The wisdom distilled in these quotes paints a journey of highs and lows, of stumbles and triumphant rises. They underscore that recovery is not just about overcoming addiction but about redefining your life narrative. Most importantly, they pay testament to the truth that addiction may have been a long and difficult chapter in your life, but it doesn’t have to be the entire story. With dedication, support and the right guidance, a brighter future awaits.

If you’re seeking a guiding hand in your story of resurgence, UKAT is here to help. Reach out today and embark on your healing journey with us by your side.