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New Drug Czar

Recovering Alcoholic Michael Botticelli Nominated as Drug Czar

posted 12:23 AM EST, Fri August 29, 2014
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Michael Botticelli, the man now driving US drug policy, brings 25 years of recovery experience to his post.

He’s got 25 years of sober time and with a White House nomination for US Drug Czar, Michael Botticelli brings his recovery experience and treatment focus to the national stage.

Sober since getting involved with the 12 steps in 1988, Botticelli was former drug czar Gil Kerlikowske’s deputy director and has served as acting director since March. He was previously the director of the Massachusetts Bureau of Substance Abuse Services.

In recent years, the Office of National Drug Control Policy has transitioned from a law and order mentality toward seeing addiction as a public health issue – more solvable by prevention and treatment efforts than by incarceration. Listing his planned initiatives, the new Drug Czar said he hoped to get police across the country supplied with the anti-overdose medication naloxone, and to help those newly in recovery back into the workforce.

The Possibility of Recovery

Recounting his recovery story, Botticelli tells of a DUI crash and conviction – and waking up handcuffed to a hospital bed, as well as drinking to the point of eviction.

Now, speaking to reporters outside of the church where he attended his first AA meetings 25 years ago, Botticelli sums up his belief in transformation, saying, “When I first came here, all I wanted to do was not drink and have my problems go away. I’m standing here 25 years later, working at the White House. And if you had asked me 25 years ago when I came to my first meeting here if that was a possibility, I would’ve said you’re crazy. But I think it just demonstrates what the power of recovery is.”

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Story Highlights
  • In Recovery: The new US Drug Czar is a recovering alcoholic, with 25 years of sobriety.
  • Planned Initiatives: He plans to equip all police officers with the opioid overdose medication, naloxone.
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