Ted Cruz Opens Up On Half-Sister's Drug Death

By McCarton Ackerman 02/08/16

Ted Cruz was one of the latest presidential hopefuls to share how drug addiction has personally affected their lives.

Ted Cruz
Photo via Shutterstock

During a campaign stop last weekend in New Hampshire, the Republican candidate shared the tragic story of the drug-related death of his half-sister, Miriam.

Speaking at Emmanuel Baptist Church in the town of Hooksett, Cruz said their parent’s divorce left her bitter and angry growing up. She began to steal her half-brother’s money to buy drugs and alcohol as a teenager, which eventually progressed into a painkiller addiction as an adult. In his memoir A Time For Truth, Ted admits he "found it hard to reconcile the bright, fun, charismatic sister I adored with the person who would lie to me without hesitation and who stole money from her teenage brother to feed her various addictions."

Miriam’s addictions eventually landed her in jail for shoplifting and other minor crimes. Ted even visited her at a local crackhouse in 1996 in a bid to get her into treatment.

"I remember pulling Miriam out of there and we took her to a Denny's—sat down with her for four, five hours, trying to pull her back. But she wouldn't listen," he recalled. "She was angry. She said, 'Daddy missed my swim meet when I was in high school.' And I remember telling her, 'Miriam, you've got a son, Joey. He needs you.’”

But despite his best efforts, Miriam died from her addictions at the age of 49. At the time of her death, she was awaiting trial for several drug-related charges including possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a controlled substance and public drunkenness.

“These tragedies are happening in human lives all over this country. It’s the human journey. It’s not an easy one. It’s fraught with peril,” said Ted. “Sometimes people make decisions bound and determined to destroy themselves…as a family, you wonder, ‘Could I have done more? Was there a way to pull her back, a way to change the path she was on?’ Those are questions you never fully answer.”

Ted’s speech also took on political and religious undertones at times.

In speaking about his father’s conversion to Christianity that he believes has led him to be sober for the last 40 years, Ted said he wants the federal government to stay out of addiction treatment. If elected, he would focus on supporting churches and charities who can create “personal transformations” that will lead to recovery.

"Everyone of us who has dealt with these demons—or who has dealt with loved one grappling with these demons—every one of us knows these are personal journeys," he said. "Faith and a relationship with God can be a powerful, powerful element in turning that around."

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.