Joe Biden Applauds Son For Speaking Out About Addiction Struggles

By Kelly Burch 07/18/19

In a recent New Yorker profile, Hunter Biden went on the record about his long-time addiction struggles.  

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Presidential hopeful Joe Biden and his wife Jill are speaking out about their son Hunter’s experience with addiction after the publication of a New Yorker profile that detailed Hunter’s decades-long struggle with substance misuse. 

“Hunter’s been through some tough times, but he’s fighting, he’s never given up. He’s the most honorable, decent person I know,” Joe Biden said in a CNN interview, according to The Hill

Biden added that Hunter’s participation in the New Yorker profile “took enormous courage.”

In the profile, Hunter spoke out about his drug and alcohol abuse. 

“Look, everybody faces pain,” Hunter told the magazine. “Everybody has trauma. There’s addiction in every family. I was in that darkness. I was in that tunnel—it’s a never-ending tunnel. You don’t get rid of it. You figure out how to deal with it.”

Red Flags

Hunter admits that during college he drank socially and used cocaine. When cocaine was unavailable once, he smoked crack. “It didn’t have much of an effect,” he said.

However, as his career as a lobbyist and consultant took off, he began drinking more. When he started staying in Washington rather than getting on his commuter train home, it was a red flag. 

“When I found myself making the decision to have another drink or get on a train, I knew I had a problem,” he said. 

His wife at the time urged him to try a sober month. “And I wouldn’t drink for 30 days, but, on day 31, I’d be right back to it,” he said. 

After connecting with AA, Hunter was sober for seven years before relapsing in 2010, and again in 2013. In 2014 he was discharged from the Navy after testing positive for cocaine. 

In 2015, Hunter enrolled in a treatment program, followed by another in 2016. However, later that year he admits to buying crack, and drug paraphernalia was found in his vehicle.

Divorce proceedings from 2017 included the claim that Hunter had “created financial concerns for the family by spending extravagantly on his own interests (including drugs, alcohol, prostitutes, strip clubs, and gifts for women with whom he has sexual relations), while leaving the family with no funds to pay legitimate bills.” 

More recently, Hunter said that his father’s support has helped him endure his addiction. In May he told his father, “Dad, I always had love. And the only thing that allowed me to see it was the fact that you never gave up on me, you always believed in me.”

Facing Addiction 

Joe Biden has continued to stand by Hunter.

“Everybody has to deal with these issues in a way that’s consistent with who they are and what they are,” he said this week. “The idea that we treat mental health and physical health as though somehow they’re distinct—it’s health.”

Jill Biden, Hunter's stepmother, said that her family, like many others, has had no choice but to face addiction head-on. 

“We’ve seen his struggle and we know most American families are dealing with some sort of struggle like we are, and I think they can relate to us as parents who are hopeful and are supportive of our son,” she said. 

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.

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