Monday, July 11, 2011

Treatment Solutions Network Articles: Betty Ford Dies at 93

Treatment Solutions Network Articles: Betty Ford Dies at 93

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Betty Ford Dies at 93

Posted: 11 Jul 2011 02:19 PM PDT

Former first lady Betty Ford died last week at the age of 93. Betty was instrumental in creating awareness for drug and alcohol addiction, as she herself was a lifelong recovering addict.

A History of Addiction

Betty Ford’s struggles with drugs and alcohol began in 1964 when she suffered a pinched nerve injury. She was put on prescription painkillers, and before long she began taking more and more pills. The pill abuse, combined with increased alcohol abuse, became an addiction she couldn't shake. Even during her time in the public eye as her husband served his brief term as president, Betty Ford was a drug addict and an alcoholic. The stress of being the first lady and having to raise four children with a husband that was so busy led to an increased dependence on drugs and alcohol just to get by. She once said that her addiction was “an escapism from all that living in a fishbowl to a certain extent and the pressure of always having to be ‘on’ when perhaps you feel very ‘un-on’ or very down inside.” (1)

It became so bad that people began to detect a problem as she went on television talk shows or spoke at events. Her inability to remember things and her slurred speech didn’t go unnoticed by many. Finally, when she was living on the west coast with her husband after he lost the 1976 presidential election, Ford’s family knew Betty needed help. They staged an intervention in 1978, when Betty was 60, and it opened her eyes. "I collapsed into tears," she said later. "But I still had enough sense to realize they hadn't come around just to make me cry; they were there because they loved me and wanted to help." (2) She sought treatment and lived the rest of her life as a recovering addict.

Open and Honest

Of course, the natural reaction would be to cover up a flaw as big as drug and alcohol addiction, but Betty Ford came to realize that trying to hide an addiction is one of the main problems with drug abuse and alcoholism in our society. She decided to be honest about her struggle in order to help many others overcome theirs.

Betty Ford was always known for her candor and honesty. While her political views and openness disappointed and frustrated some, her work in the area of addiction treatment has helped millions. Betty Ford always said that if addiction could happen to her, it could happen to anyone. She faced embarrassment and went public with her weakness and even founded the famous Betty Ford Treatment Center in California. She worked hard to offer programs that worked for everyone, and she personally encouraged many women and celebrities through their recovery.


(1) Former first lady Betty Ford dies at 93

(2) Betty Ford showed strength in admitting weakness for alcohol, pain medicine

History of the Betty Ford Center

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