In these short stories, characters will be dealing with drug or alcohol addiction. Often, we will see the effect of this on the user and those around them.
These stories will show the consequences of the user’s behavior, and sometimes chronicle their struggle to quit.
These stories might interest an avid reader, or might be suitable short stories for middle school kids.
Sonny’s Blues | James Baldwin
The narrator is a teacher in Harlem; he has managed to keep away from the bad influences around him. His brother, Sonny, is a jazz musician with a heroin problem. They haven’t stayed close over the years.
Surprise! | Robert Phillips
Fallick is in his bathrobe on Saturday afternoon, still feeling the effects of his hangover, when the doorbell rings. It’s Nat and Jane Bellow, friends who made a two-hour drive because they say they were invited. Fallick and his wife start scrambling to host their guests.
Big Blonde | Dorothy Parker
Hazel Morse was a beautiful blonde, an ex model who was fun and popular with men. When she starts showing signs of her age, she wants to marry a man, Herbie, but he isn’t interested. She starts drinking and hanging out with a new group of people.
Customs of the Country | Madison Smartt Bell
A young mother tries to get her life back in order. Her husband is in prison on a drug charge, and she was addicted to Dilaudid (an opioid), which led to her injuring her son.
Where I’m Calling From | Raymond Carver
The narrator goes to a rehab facility. He was sent there by his girlfriend, also a drinker. While he’s there over the Christmas season, he thinks about what led him to this point and he describes the relationships he forms there.
Murphy’s Xmas | Mark Costello
Murphy wakes up with an injured fist and no memory of the previous night. He’s going to his parents’ home along with his estranged, pregnant wife and their son. Before leaving he asks his girlfriend, Annie, for forgiveness.
Babylon Revisited | F. Scott Fitzgerald
Charlie Wales returns to Paris to get back his daughter, Honoria. She has been living with his sister, Marion. Charlie is financially secure and has abandoned the partying and drinking that contributed to the death of his wife and loss of his daughter.
To Hell with Dying | Alice Walker
Mr. Sweet, an old man, is a diabetic, alcoholic, and a guitar player. When Mr. Sweet was on the brink of dying – which was often – the narrator’s family would “revive” him with love and attention.
A Conversation with My Father | Grace Paley
The narrator’s eighty-six-year-old father is dying with a heart problem. He asks her to craft a story for him before his death. She writes one about a mother and son who become addicts.
Skipper | Alden Nowlan
Ethel and Rupert have five sons. Skipper is the youngest son, and Ethel wants to keep him from his father’s world, the world that claimed her other four sons – working at the mill, getting drunk, and abusing his family.
Escapes | Joy Williams
The narrator, Lizzie, thinks about her life as a young girl with her mother, an alcoholic. After her father left, Lizzie and her mother spent a lot of time together.
In the Zoo | Jean Stafford
A visit to a zoo reminds two sisters of a childhood friend, an alcoholic with a lot of animals, who gave them a puppy. Their foster mother had a bad effect on the dog.
A Spinster’s Tale | Peter Taylor
The narrator, Elizabeth, grew up in an all male household. Looking back, she relates some interactions with her father, her brother, and Mr. Speed. Her brother drank too much, and Mr. Speed was a repulsive drunk.
Diary of a Quitter | Ralph Reppert
The narrator decides to quit smoking. He relies on willpower, changes his diet, and takes frequent warm baths to help him stay away from cigarettes.
The Gate of the Hundred Sorrows | Rudyard Kipling
The narrator relates the story told him by Gabral Misquitta, a half-caste opium addict, six weeks before his death. It is of his life at Fung-Tching’s opium den, including the experiences of others there.
I will try to add more stories that deal with drugs and addiction that could be helpful for teaching reading and reading comprehension to middle and high school students. Eventually, I hope these pages will become a teaching resource.