"Everybody has trauma. There's addiction in every family," Hunter told The New Yorker
In a new candid series of interviews with The New Yorker, Hunter, 49, spoke about his years-long issues with drinking and drugs, including recurring stints in rehab.
“Everybody has trauma,” Hunter told The New Yorker. “There’s addiction in every family.”
“I was in that darkness,” Hunter explained. “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.”
Hunter told The New Yorker that he started drinking socially as a teenager. He later picked up smoking when he was a student at Georgetown in Washington, D.C.
He said he even once tried crack after it was sold to him instead of cocaine. But despite not using the drug before or having the correct drug paraphernalia, he used it anyway, stuffing the crack into a cigarette and smoked it.
“It didn’t have much of an effect,” he told the publication.
Hunter also went into detail about his battle with alcoholism, saying in 2003 his ex-wife Kathleen Biden begged him to get sober. She encouraged him to refrain from drinking 30 days at a time.
“And I wouldn’t drink for thirty days, but, on day thirty-one, I’d be right back at it.”
That’s when one day, while on a business trip, Hunter looked up rehab facilities and admitted himself to Crossroads Centre Antigua for a month.
After finishing the program, Hunter said his late brother Beau accompanied him to his first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.
According to the magazine, Hunter first relapsed in November 2010, after seven years of sobriety, and then again in 2013.
He returned to Crossroads after the 2010 relapse and then, after the 2013 relapse, sought out a Mexican clinic that used the psychoactive substance ibogaine as a form of treatment. He also met with an expert in Vedic meditation in Arizona.
In the fall of 2014, he went to a 12-step retreat and in 2015 he went to rehab at a center out of the University of Pennsylvania followed by an inpatient program and another program in Washington, D.C. He returned to the 12-step retreat in February 2016 before entering another rehab in D.C. That same year, he went to Grace Grove Lifestyle Center.
Throughout the ups and downs of his life, Hunter told The New Yorker, he has relied on his father and his father has relied on him.
“I’m like his security blanket,” Hunter said of the former vice president, 76, who is the leading contender to challenge Donald Trump in next year’s election.
“I don’t tell the staff what to do. I’m not there giving directions or orders. I shake everybody’s hands,” Hunter continued. “And then I tell [my father] to close his eyes on the bus. I can say things to him that nobody else can.”
Hunter also told The New Yorker he personally appealed to his father to issue a statement in support of his relationship with Beau’s widow Hallie after it was made public by the New York Post‘s Page Six in 2017. (Hallie, as well as others in the Biden family, declined to talk to the magazine.)
Beau died in 2015 of a brain tumor. The same year Hunter separated from wife Kathleen. A year later, Hunter and Beau’s widow Hallie started dating.
“I said, ‘Dad, Dad, you have to,’” Hunter recalled. “He said, ‘Hunter, I don’t know if I should. But I’ll do whatever you want me to do.’ I said, ‘Dad, if people find out, but they think you’re not approving of this, it makes it seem wrong. The kids have to know, Dad, that there’s nothing wrong with this, and the one person who can tell them that is you.’”
In a statement to the Post at the time, Vice President Biden said: “We are all lucky that Hunter and Hallie found each other as they were putting their lives together again after such sadness. They have mine and Jill’s full and complete support and we are happy for them.”
According to The New Yorker, Hunter and Hallie, 45, grew closer in 2016 after a summer trip with their children. He began spending many nights at her home, watching TV.
They then began dating after he left another rehab, the Grace Grove Lifestyle Center in Arizona. That marked his eleventh effort to get sober since 2003.
“We were sharing a very specific grief,” he told the magazine. “I started to think of Hallie as the only person in my life who understood my loss.”
As family friend Lea Carpenter told PEOPLE in 2017: “No two brothers were as close as Hunter and Beau. And anyone moved to judgment now has no knowledge of the grace and strength with which Hunter and Hallie have navigated the last four years.”
Though he relocated to Maryland in August 2017, he and Hallie broke up “several months later,” according to The New Yorker. But their split did not become public for more than a year. Within weeks of that most recent headline, he met new wife Melissa Cohen, a documentary filmmaker, in Los Angeles.
According to TMZ, Cohen and Hunter tied the knot in Los Angeles on May 16 after a whirlwind romance. Since news of the couple’s wedding broke, his father confirmed his marriage to CBS News.
If you or someone you know is in need of help, please contact the SAMHSA substance abuse helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.