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The president's 51-year-old son opened up about his substance abuse and recovery in two interviews with CBS News this week

By Sean Neumann
April 05, 2021 03:42 PM
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Hunter Biden on "Beautiful Things" and his struggles with substance abuse
Hunter Biden
| Credit: CBS Sunday Morning/YouTube

President Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden opened up about his tumultuous personal life, including his years of harrowing substance abuse before the road to recovery, in a pair of interviews with CBS News this week.

"I am more convinced now that trauma is at the center of it," Hunter, 51, said in one of the sit-downs about his new memoir, Beautiful Things.

For more on Hunter Biden's book Beautiful Things, listen below to the episode of PEOPLE Every Day.

Hunter said he believes his exact trauma traces back to the 1972 car crash that killed his mother, Neilia, and his infant sister, Naomi. He and big brother Beau, who died in 2015 from brain cancer, were in the car with them and were injured.

"I don't know why I had such a hard time ever admitting that," Hunter said on CBS, adding that he and his family never talked much about the accident and the emotional trauma that lingered for decades.

"We probably should've," he said.

In his book, which will be released on Tuesday, Hunter details much about his ups and downs — from his addiction to crack to his romantic relationship with Hallie Biden, his brother's widow.

Hunter grew emotional at times during the interviews, recounting the Biden family's efforts to support him during the worst of his addiction.

"I'm a Biden, we cry too much," he says at one point, wiping his eyes after talking about how President Biden still calls him every night to check in.

Elsewhere in the interview, Hunter told CBS News he was "cooperating completely" with a federal investigation into his "tax affairs," although he stopped short of providing exact details about the probe.

"I'm absolutely certain — 100 percent certain — that at the end of the investigation, I will be cleared of any wrongdoing," he said, adding, "I'm 100 percent certain of it. All I can do is cooperate and trust in the process."

U.S. President Joe Biden embraces his family First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, son Hunter Biden and daughter Ashley after being sworn in during his inauguation on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC
President Joe Biden (right) embraces First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, son Hunter Biden and daughter Ashley Biden after being sworn in during his inauguration
| Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty

In his memoir, and during the CBS interviews, Hunter shared stories about his father's efforts to guide him out of his addictions.

In one instance, Hunter said that his dad, as vice president, "ditched his Secret Service" detail and "figured out a way to get over to the house" to confront Hunter about his drug and alcohol use.

Hunter told CBS he would drink a "quart of vodka" every day — an "insanely lethal" amount of alcohol. 

He also talked about sifting through the carpet to find more crack. "I probably smoked more parmesan cheese than anyone that you know," he told CBS News correspondent Tracy Smith.

Once, Hunter described going "13 days without sleeping," smoking crack and drinking vodka "the entire time." But he "never, not once" thought his father would quit supporting him and hoping for him to get better.

Hunter said his 2019 marriage to wife Melissa Cohen, a South African filmmaker he met in Los Angeles, was "a miracle" for him and his recovery.

He explained to CBS that he and Cohen immediately hit it off on a blind date before he confessed to her later that night that he was addicted to crack.

"She said, 'Well that ends now,' " Hunter recalled, adding, "I knew it was my last chance."

Hunter also said that opening up about his addiction in a 2019 New Yorker interview was "part of the thing that saved me."

"I started to tell my story," Hunter said. 

The biggest lesson of it all? "I don't know a force more powerful than my family's love — except addiction," he said.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please contact the SAMHSA substance abuse helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.