WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden’s son Hunter details his lifelong struggle with alcoholism and drug abuse in a new memoir, writing that “in the last five years alone, my two-decades-long marriage has dissolved, guns have been put in my face, and at one point I dropped clean off the grid, living in $59-a-night Super 8 motels off I-95 while scaring my family even more than myself.”
His “deep descent” into substance addiction followed the 2015 death of his older brother, Beau, who succumbed to brain cancer at age 46, Hunter Biden writes in “Beautiful Things.” The book is set for release on Tuesday.
“After Beau died, I never felt more alone. I lost hope,” he wrote.
He credits his second wife, Melissa Cohen Biden, with helping him sober up, along with the love from his father and late brother.
Before meeting his future wife in California, Hunter Biden cycled through addiction, rehab and sobriety all while managing to have a family and career as a lawyer and lobbyist. His family tried to intervene sometime in 2019 after his mother, Jill Biden, called and invited him to a family dinner in Delaware.
But Hunter Biden sensed that more than a hot meal was on table after he saw his three daughters and two counselors from a Pennsylvania rehab center where he’d been a patient when he arrived.
He swore at his father and bolted from the house, but was chased down the driveway by Joe Biden, who “grabbed me, swung me around, and hugged me. He held me tight in the dark and cried for the longest time. Everybody was outside now.”
To end the scene, Hunter Biden agreed to check into a facility in Maryland. He was driven there by Beau’s widow, Hallie, with whom he’d had a relationship. After she dropped him off, Hunter Biden writes, he called an Uber, told the staff he’d return in the morning and then checked into a hotel near Baltimore’s airport.
“For the next two days, while everybody who’d been at my parents’ house thought I was safe and sound at the center, I sat in my room and smoked the crack I’d tucked away in my traveling bag,” he wrote. “I then boarded a plane for California and ran and ran and ran. Until I met Melissa.”
The first drink Hunter Biden remembers having was a flute of champagne.
He was 8 and at an election-night party in Delaware celebrating his father’s reelection to the Senate in 1978. He says he didn’t know what he was doing because “to me, champagne was just a fizzy drink.”
But he writes that he knew better when he was 14 and overnighting at his best friend’s house in the summer between eighth and ninth grades. They split a six-pack of beer while the boy’s parents were out. The boys pretended to be asleep when the parents returned home because they were drunk after three beers apiece.
“Getting blasted and sick as a dog didn’t scare me or turn me off one bit,” he wrote. “Instead, I thought it was kind of cool. While I felt a nagging guilt from disappointing my father, who didn’t drink and who encouraged us to stay away from alcohol as well, I wanted to do it again.”
Drinking, he wrote, “seemed to solve every unanswered question about why I felt the way I felt. It took away my inhibitions, my insecurities, and often my judgment. It made me feel complete, filling a hole I didn’t even realize was there — a feeling of loss and my sense of not being understood or fitting in.”
At 18, Hunter Biden was busted for cocaine possession but did pretrial intervention with six months’ probation and the arrest was removed from his record. He says he disclosed the episode during a 2006 Senate committee hearing on his nomination to serve on the Amtrak board of directors.
As an adult, he once let a crack cocaine addict he first met when he was a senior at Georgetown University live with him in his Washington apartment for about five months. Hunter Biden was kicked out of the U.S. Navy Reserve after he failed a drug test.
Hunter Biden, now 51, also writes about thinking he had developed a superpower — “the ability to find crack in any town, at any time, no matter how unfamiliar the terrain,” and about once having a gun thrust in his face when he embarked on such a hunt during five months of self-exile in Los Angeles.
It was in Los Angeles where he met Melissa Cohen, and he describes their first meeting as akin to love at first sight. He says she didn’t flinch when he told her about his addiction, his alcoholism and other problems.
“She pushed away everyone in my life connected to drugs,” taking away his phone, computer, car keys and wallet, he wrote. She deleted every contact in his phone who wasn’t family, and tossed his crack cocaine.
The South African filmmaker slowly eased him off of drinking and arranged for a doctor to come to their Hollywood Hills apartment to help with his withdrawal. He slept for three days.
He woke up on the fourth day and asked her to marry him. She asked to wait for the right time, but when they woke up the next morning — seven days after they’d met —- she told him, “Let’s do it.”
They wed in May 2019. Their son, Beau, came along in 2020.
Last week, Hunter and his family were at the White House and traveled with President Joe Biden aboard the Marine One helicopter.