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George W. Bush substance abuse controversy

George W. Bush substance abuse controversy

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Allegations of substance abuse
Substance abuse
A substance-related disorder is an umbrella term used to describe several different conditions associated with several different substances .A substance related disorder is a condition in which an individual uses or abuses a...

arose during the political career of 43rd United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

, leading to controversy. Bush admitted to abusing
Alcohol abuse
Alcohol abuse, as described in the DSM-IV, is a psychiatric diagnosis describing the recurring use of alcoholic beverages despite negative consequences. Alcohol abuse eventually progresses to alcoholism, a condition in which an individual becomes dependent on alcoholic beverages in order to avoid...

In chemistry, an alcohol is an organic compound in which the hydroxy functional group is bound to a carbon atom. In particular, this carbon center should be saturated, having single bonds to three other atoms....

 until age 40.


Bush has described his days before his religious conversion
Religious conversion
Religious conversion is the adoption of a new religion that differs from the convert's previous religion. Changing from one denomination to another within the same religion is usually described as reaffiliation rather than conversion.People convert to a different religion for various reasons,...

 in his 40s as his "nomadic" period and "irresponsible youth" and admitted to drinking "too much" in those years. In Fortunate Son: George W. Bush and the Making of an American President
Fortunate Son (Hatfield)
Fortunate Son is a controversial biography of former American president George W. Bush by J.H. Hatfield. The book was released in 1999 during the run-up to Bush's candidacy in the United States 2000 Presidential Election by St...

by James Hatfield
James Hatfield
James Howard Hatfield was an American author.- Fortunate Son and controversy :Hatfield was the author of Fortunate Son, a book which alleges that George W...

, Bush is quoted as saying that "alcohol began to compete with my energies ... I'd lose focus". Although Bush states that he was not an alcoholic, he has acknowledged that he was "drinking too much".

Nicholas D. Kristof
Nicholas D. Kristof
Nicholas Donabet Kristof is an American journalist, author, op-ed columnist, and a winner of two Pulitzer Prizes. He has written an op-ed column for The New York Times since November 2001 and is known for bringing to light human rights abuses in Asia and Africa, such as human trafficking and the...

 quotes Bush's cousin Elsie Walker as saying, "He was a riot. But afterward, when you're older, that can wear thin", and gives the example of Bush asking a "proper" female friend of his parents at a family cocktail party, "So, what's sex like after 50, anyway?"

In December 1966 (age 20), he was arrested for disorderly conduct
Disorderly conduct
Disorderly conduct is a criminal charge in most jurisdictions in the United States. Typically, disorderly conduct makes it a crime to be drunk in public, to "disturb the peace", or to loiter in certain areas. Many types of unruly conduct may fit the definition of disorderly conduct, as such...

 after he and some friends had "a few beers" and stole a Christmas
Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual holiday generally celebrated on December 25 by billions of people around the world. It is a Christian feast that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, liturgically closing the Advent season and initiating the season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days...

A wreath is an assortment of flowers, leaves, fruits, twigs and/or various materials that is constructed to resemble a ring. They are used typically as Christmas decorations to symbolize the coming of Christ, also known as the Advent season in Christianity. They are also used as festive headdresses...

 from a hotel. The charges were later dropped.

On September 4, 1976 (age 30), Bush was arrested for driving under the influence
Driving under the influence
Driving under the influence is the act of driving a motor vehicle with blood levels of alcohol in excess of a legal limit...

 of alcohol near his family's summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine
Kennebunkport, Maine
Kennebunkport is a town in York County, Maine, United States. The population was 3,720 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Portland–South Portland–Biddeford metropolitan statistical area....

. He admitted his guilt, was fined US$
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

150, and had his driving license in the state suspended for two years, although the White House
White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

 had claimed 30 days. This incident did not become public knowledge until it was reported by Erin Fehlau
Erin Fehlau
Erin Fehlau, born 1973 in Massachusetts, is the weekday morning news anchor for WMUR in Manchester, New Hampshire. In an earlier job at WPXT in Portland, Maine, she broke the news about George W Bush drunk driving arrests. She also does the morning and afternoon newscasts on the WMUR website...

 of Maine FOX affiliate WPXT-TV in the week before the 2000 election
United States presidential election, 2000
The United States presidential election of 2000 was a contest between Republican candidate George W. Bush, then-governor of Texas and son of former president George H. W. Bush , and Democratic candidate Al Gore, then-Vice President....


The most notorious episode, reported in numerous diverse sources including U.S. News & World Report
U.S. News & World Report
U.S. News & World Report is an American news magazine published from Washington, D.C. Along with Time and Newsweek it was for many years a leading news weekly, focusing more than its counterparts on political, economic, health and education stories...

on November 1, 1999, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq by Robert Parry
Robert Parry
Robert Parry is an American investigative journalist. He was awarded the George Polk Award for National Reporting in 1984 for his work with the Associated Press on the Iran-Contra story and uncovered Oliver North's involvement in it as a Washington-based correspondent for Newsweek. In 1995, he...

, First Son: George W. Bush and the Bush Family Dynasty by Bill Minutaglio, and W: Revenge of the Bush Dynasty by Elizabeth Mitchell, has 26-year-old Bush visiting his parents in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 over the Christmas
Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual holiday generally celebrated on December 25 by billions of people around the world. It is a Christian feast that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, liturgically closing the Advent season and initiating the season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days...

 vacation in 1972, shortly after the death of his grandfather, and taking his 16-year-old brother Marvin out drinking. On the way home Bush lost control of the car and ran over a waste container
Waste container
A waste container is a container for temporarily storing refuse and waste. Different terms are in use, depending on the language area, the design and material and the respective site .The most general terms are waste receptacle and container bin.Common terms include dustbin ,...

, but continued home with the garbage can wedged noisily under the car. When his father, George H. W. Bush
George H. W. Bush
George Herbert Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 41st President of the United States . He had previously served as the 43rd Vice President of the United States , a congressman, an ambassador, and Director of Central Intelligence.Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts, to...

, called him on the carpet for not only his own behavior but for exposing his younger brother to risk, George W., still under the influence, appears to have retorted angrily, "I hear you're looking for me. You wanna go mano-a-mano
Mano-a-mano is a Spanish construction meaning "hand to hand". It was used originally for bullfights where two matadors alternate competing for the admiration of the audience....

 right here?" Before the elder Bush could reply, the situation was defused by brother Jeb
Jeb Bush
John Ellis "Jeb" Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd Governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007. He is a prominent member of the Bush family: the second son of former President George H. W. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush; the younger brother of former President George W...

, who took the opportunity to surprise his father with the happy news that George W. had been accepted to Harvard Business School
Harvard Business School
Harvard Business School is the graduate business school of Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts, United States and is widely recognized as one of the top business schools in the world. The school offers the world's largest full-time MBA program, doctoral programs, and many executive...


During the 2000 presidential campaign, Bush said that he gave up drinking after waking up with a hangover
A hangover describes the sum of unpleasant physiological effects following heavy consumption of alcoholic beverages. The most commonly reported characteristics of a hangover include headache, nausea, sensitivity to light and noise, lethargy, dysphoria, diarrhea and thirst, typically after the...

 after his 40th birthday celebration: "I quit drinking in 1986 and haven't had a drop since then." He ascribed the change in part to a 1985 meeting with Reverend Billy Graham
Billy Graham
William Franklin "Billy" Graham, Jr. is an American evangelical Christian evangelist. As of April 25, 2010, when he met with Barack Obama, Graham has spent personal time with twelve United States Presidents dating back to Harry S. Truman, and is number seven on Gallup's list of admired people for...

, after which he began serious Bible study
Bible study (Christian)
In Christianity, Bible study is the study of the Bible by ordinary people as a personal religious or spiritual practice. Some denominations may call this devotion or devotional acts; however in other denominations devotion has other meanings...

, as well as to gentle but persistent pressure from his wife, Laura
Laura Bush
Laura Lane Welch Bush is the wife of the 43rd President of the United States, George W. Bush. She was the First Lady of the United States from January 20, 2001, to January 20, 2009. She has held a love of books and reading since childhood and her life and education have reflected that interest...

. However this claim has been challenged by some due to a 2004 interview Graham did with Brian Williams
Brian Williams
Brian Douglas Williams is the anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News, the evening news program of the NBC television network, a position he assumed in 2004...

 where he said.

"I've heard others say that, and people have written it, but I cannot say that," he says. "I was with him and I used to teach the Bible at Kennebunkport to the Bush family when he was a younger man, but I never feel that I in any way turned his life around."

Mickey Herskowitz, a sportswriter for the Houston Chronicle
Houston Chronicle
The Houston Chronicle is the largest daily newspaper in Texas, USA, headquartered in the Houston Chronicle Building in Downtown Houston. , it is the ninth-largest newspaper by circulation in the United States...

who became close friends with the Bush family and was originally contracted to ghost-write A Charge to Keep
A Charge to Keep
A Charge to Keep is a 1999 book written by George W. Bush and credited ghostwriter Michael Herskowitz, with a foreword by Karen Hughes. Later editions have the sub-title My Journey To The White House....

 recalled interviewing Bush about it when he was doing research for the book.

"I remember asking him about the famous meeting at Kennebunkport with the Reverend Billy Graham," Herskowitz said. "And you know what? He couldn't remember a single word that passed between them."

Friends recall that Bush said nothing of his decision, even to Laura, until many weeks later when they realized that he had not had so much as a single beer in the interim.

An editorial letter by Graydon Carter in Vanity Fair
Vanity Fair (magazine)
Vanity Fair is a magazine of pop culture, fashion, and current affairs published by Condé Nast. The present Vanity Fair has been published since 1983 and there have been editions for four European countries as well as the U.S. edition. This revived the title which had ceased publication in 1935...

for January 2008 quotes a new book about Bush:

"a new book by former British foreign secretary
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, commonly referred to as the Foreign Secretary, is a senior member of Her Majesty's Government heading the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and regarded as one of the Great Offices of State...

 Lord Owen
David Owen
David Anthony Llewellyn Owen, Baron Owen CH PC FRCP is a British politician.Owen served as British Foreign Secretary from 1977 to 1979, the youngest person in over forty years to hold the post; he co-authored the failed Vance-Owen and Owen-Stoltenberg peace plans offered during the Bosnian War...

 may supply a clue. In The Hubris Syndrome: Bush, Blair, and the Intoxication of Power (ISBN 1-84275-219-7), Owen recalls the time in 2002 when the commander in chief collapsed while sitting on a sofa watching a football game. (Official cause: he’d choked on a pretzel.) The presidential head hit a table on the way to the floor, he suffered an abrasion on the left side of his face, and a blood sample was rushed to Johns Hopkins
Johns Hopkins Hospital
The Johns Hopkins Hospital is the teaching hospital and biomedical research facility of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, located in Baltimore, Maryland . It was founded using money from a bequest by philanthropist Johns Hopkins...

. Owen says he was told by a British doctor who had visited Johns Hopkins
Johns Hopkins
Johns Hopkins was a wealthy American entrepreneur, philanthropist and abolitionist of 19th-century Baltimore, Maryland, now most noted for his philanthropic creation of the institutions that bear his name, namely the Johns Hopkins Hospital, and the Johns Hopkins University and its associated...

 that lab technicians there found that the blood contained significant amounts of alcohol."

In the book, The Hubris Syndrome: Bush, Blair, and the Intoxication of Power, Lord Owen writes:

"Bush claims he has drunk no alcohol since 1987 but there have been rumors in the press to the contrary. On 13 January 2002 he lost consciousness while sitting on a couch in the White House watching a football game. His head hit the floor, resulting in an abrasion on his left cheekbone. The incident was blamed on a combination of not feeling well in previous days and an improperly eaten pretzel. I was contacted by a British doctor who had visited Johns Hopkins University and in talking to a group of young doctors was told that, following this incident, though the President had been admitted to Walter Reed Hospital, a blood sample of his had been sent to Johns Hopkins which showed a blood alcohol level in the range of 200 mg. All such rumors have been emphatically denied by the White House and certainly there are no signs of Bush resuming his drinking habits."

On November 23, 2008 Bush was photographed drinking what may have been Pisco Sour
Pisco Sour
A Pisco Sour is a cocktail containing pisco, lemon or lime juice, egg whites, simple syrup, and bitters- Culture :The national origin of the pisco sour is debated. Both Chile and Peru lay claim to the drink. In both countries, the variety of lime used is what North Americans would call Persian lime...

 during an APEC summit in Lima
Lima is the capital and the largest city of Peru. It is located in the valleys of the Chillón, Rímac and Lurín rivers, in the central part of the country, on a desert coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Together with the seaport of Callao, it forms a contiguous urban area known as the Lima...

, Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....



From 1998 to 2000, Bush had phone conversations with a friend, Doug Wead, who recorded those conversations and later played some of them back to a reporter from the New York Times. According to the Times, "Mr. Bush appears to have acknowledged trying marijuana." In one recorded excerpt, Bush said, "I wouldn't answer the marijuana questions. You know why? Because I don't want some little kid doing what I tried."


In Fortunate Son, Bush biographer Hatfield quoted several anonymous sources regarding allegations of Bush's cocaine use. Hatfield reported that Bush had been arrested for cocaine possession in 1972 and that his father pulled strings to have records of the arrest expunged. Bush campaign spokesperson Mindy Tucker called the allegation "absolutely untrue". Bush repeatedly refused to state whether he had ever used cocaine. Bush did say in 1999 that he could truthfully answer "no" to the then-standard FBI
Federal Bureau of Investigation
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is an agency of the United States Department of Justice that serves as both a federal criminal investigative body and an internal intelligence agency . The FBI has investigative jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crime...

background check question of whether he had used any illegal drug in the last seven years. He later stated that he could have passed a background check under a policy that his father had instituted as President in 1989 that extended the background check to 15 years. This would have checked back to 1974, two years after the alleged 1972 arrest.

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