The Current

Hunter Biden opens up about addiction, sobriety and family tragedy

In his new memoir, Beautiful Things, Hunter Biden writes about tragedy, finding sobriety, and how his family has always been there for him.

In new memoir, U.S. president's son says Joe Biden is his constant supporter

U.S. President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden at an NCAA basketball game in Washington, on Jan. 30, 2010. The president's son has battled addiction and political controversy, but says his father remains one of his biggest supporters. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

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In 2015, recently separated from his wife and grieving his brother's death, Hunter Biden was holed up alone in an apartment, drinking a quart of vodka a day.

It was the first time he'd lived on his own in 46 years, and he'd relapsed back into alcoholism. The only thing he recalls that could get him out of bed was having a drink by his side.

Then, without warning, his father, U.S. President Joe Biden, knocked on his door one day. Biden says his father saved him. 

"I was in a really dark place, not just with the physical … destruction that that amount of drinking was doing to my body and my brain, but also [with] incredibly deep depression," Hunter Biden, 51, told The Current's Matt Galloway. 

"And he just yanked me out of it in that moment just long enough that I said, 'OK. I'll go get help.' And I did."

In December 1972, his mother and baby sister were killed in a car crash while she and her kids were out shopping for a Christmas tree. Biden, then two, and his three-year-old brother, Beau, were also in the car. They survived.

Beau died of cancer in 2015.

In his memoir, Beautiful Things, Biden opens up about tragedy, addiction and family. But some have criticized the book for skirting around the political controversies he has been tied up in. (Gallery Books)

Later in life, Biden struggled with alcoholism and drug addiction. He writes about those hardships, finding sobriety, and how his family has always been there for him, in his new memoir, Beautiful Things.

"That's what this book is about — it's about never giving up on the people that you love," he said.

"The real courage wasn't mine in reaching out to the hand that was offered to me. The real courage was in … the people that never gave up on me and continue to reach out for me." 

Political attacks and controversy 

Even amid political controversy, Biden says his family has always stood up for him.

During the 2020 U.S. presidential race, Republicans accused him of using his father's last name for financial gain, and alleged corruption related to his appointment to the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma. Those claims have not been substantiated.

Joe Biden publicly defended his son's business dealings during his presidential campaign.

In his book, the younger Biden writes that he doesn't believe he showed a lack of judgment by dealing with Burisma, but that he also wouldn't do it again. When asked why not, he told Galloway he didn't account for the lengths his father's opponents would go to "manufacture a completely false narrative."

"That's what I regret, is ever giving anyone an opening to be able to muddy the water in the way that they did," he said.

Joe Biden, left, and Donald Trump square off for a U.S. presidential election debate on Oct. 22, 2020. (The Associated Press/Jim Bourg/Pool)

In a presidential debate last year, Republican candidate and then-president Donald Trump alleged his opponent's son had been thrown out of the military for using cocaine. Joe Biden responded by acknowledging his son had a drug problem, but that he was working on it and that he was proud of him.

Tax investigation underway

In December, it emerged that Biden's tax affairs were under investigation, a revelation that renewed questions about his financial dealings, which dogged his father's campaign. 

American news networks have been critical of the fact that Biden's memoir skirts around the tax issue and his dealings with Burisma.

Still, Biden says his father has never blamed him for the political firestorm surrounding his actions.

"I would call him and say, 'Dad, I'm so sorry,'" Hunter told Galloway. "And he'd say, 'Oh God Hunter, don't worry about that.… I'm sorry that I'm putting you through this.'"

Joe Biden embraces his wife Jill Biden, Hunter and daughter Ashley Biden after being sworn in during his inauguation on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 20 in Washington. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Biden said his dad still finds time to call him every day, even now that he's president, and that he remains his son's constant supporter.

With all the challenges the Bidens have faced in their lives, Biden said he believes no one is more prepared to lead the United States through this moment in time than his father.

"I think that there are too many people out there that are sick and suffering that just want to know that somebody understands," he said. 

"And he certainly understands."


Written by Kirsten Fenn, with files from CBC News. Produced by Howard Goldenthal.

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