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George Bush Kinda Sorta Admits to Past Addiction

posted 06:19 AM EST, Wed January 30, 2008
George Bush Kinda Sorta Admits to Past Addiction © By Gabriel M

Nearing the end of his second term, Bush seems more ready to talk about his past.

George Bush has long admitted, yet minimized, his past legacy of alcohol use and abuse, saying he used to "drink too much as a young man" or offering, that alcohol had "begun to compete for his affections".

Now, 7 years into office, his language has changed, notably using the word addiction when describing his past troubles with alcohol, during a stop at a Baltimore recovery center yesterday.

Bush, while meeting privately (with one reporter present) with two graduates of the Jericho Program (a Baltimore non profit) confessed that he "understood addiction" and when describing how his Faith strengthened his resolve, he explained, "sometimes you can find the inspiration from a higher power to solve an addiction problem".

Bush has said that he quit drinking after a very heavy 40th birthday party in 1986, and has not had a drink since – he does allow himself non-alcoholic beer. In an ABC interview recorded earlier last month, Bush confesses, "I doubt I'd be standing here if I hadn't quit drinking whiskey, and beer, and wine and all that."

Clearly much stronger language and fuller openness than Americans have yet seen from their two-term president; language that National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Director Nora Volkow, calls very helpful to those still abusing. She explains that although addiction is known to be a disease, there remains such a stigma attached to it that fully 85% of all those in need of help never get treatment. Research has shown, she explains, that admissions from prominent people can go along way to reduce the misperceptions and stigma from addiction.

John Schwarzlose, director of the Betty Ford clinic (drug rehab) also lauds bush for his openness, but expressed disappointment that someone with a personal history of addiction has done so little in terms of policy and funding to help those still suffering.

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