Sunday, October 18, 2020

A Reminder That Addiction is a Family Disease


There has been quite a bit of recent news reporting and social media commentary about Hunter Biden's addiction with attempts to exploit the family tragedy for political purposes. While it is perfectly reasonable to question the Burisma affiliation, I personally believe it is improper to blame Joe Biden for trying to protect his son.

Addiction affects far more families than many Americans would like to believe. Those of us who have experienced the pain, insanity, devastation, humiliation, heartache, financial losses, and emotional effects of loving an addict or a family member who has  suffered from a family member's addiction appreciate the former Vice President's conundrum. Many friends and family members of addicts stay on the merry-go-round of denial throughout life, hoping and praying for a miracle. 

My mother was the adult child and sister of alcoholics. It affected her personal relationships and approach to life. While she was able to accept that her sister suffered from alcoholism, she was never able accept that her father was an alcoholic.  It took years for me to realize my first husband was an alcoholic. Once I found my way to Al-Anon, I attended meetings for years before I was able to accept the first step. Al Anon follows the same 12 Steps that AA uses to find recovery. The first step requires us to admit that we have no power over alcohol, other people places and things, and that our lives had become unmanageable. It only took me 10 years to accept that truth. Fortunately, I found a community in Al Anon that helped me find my own recovery, peace and serenity, so that I could learn the tools to embrace a healthy relationship and life.

Joe Biden is not the first and will certainly not be the last politician that has a family member that suffers from addiction. I recall that George McGovern's daughter, Terry, died of addiction, alone in a cold alley.    While I  would never consider supporting the politics of Mr. McGovern, reading the story of his daughter's sad death brought tears to my eyes. This was  a family tragedy for McGovern just as Hunter Biden's addiction is a family tragedy for Joe Biden. None of us know what is within the hearts or lives behind closed doors of another. One of the most valuable lessons I learned during my years in Al Anon is that most people do the best they can with the tools they have at any point in time. Joe Biden has experienced significant losses in his life. I cannot judge him for wanting to protect his son.

We Americans have lost a lot of civility. Everyday I am dumbfounded by the crass, obtuse, rude, offensive, obnoxious partisanship that has filled our lives.  No matter your political affiliation, consider being kind and resist exploiting what is clearly a devastating family tragedy for Mr. Biden. 

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