The 50-year-old son of former vice president and current Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden got candid during an interview with The New York Times from the comfort of his home studio in Los Angeles, California. And although the topic of addiction is something that the soon-to-be father-of-five (his wife, Melissa Cohen, is pregnant with their first child together) has spoken about before, Hunter explained just how severe his substance abuse was.
“I was addicted to crack for four years,” he said. “I went through a really long period of addiction and I was at a point where I didn’t read, write, think. I don’t do things halfway. That can be a problem.” He also shared that he had been to rehabilitation facilities seven or eight times.
His history of addiction is something that was brought up during the early stages of his father’s presidential campaign when people questioned if Hunter’s complicated past could interfere with Joe’s chances of winning the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination— although not all of it has to do with alcohol and drugs.
In fact, Hunter has been entangled in a number of complex narratives from the time that he was involved in a 1972 car wreck that killed his mother Neilia and sister Naomi when he was just 2 years old. Since then, Hunter has also lost his brother Beau to brain cancer in 2015, before entering into a relationship with Beau’s widow, Hallie, during the tumultuous years that followed.
The only constant for Hunter throughout it all was art, whether in the form of drawing, painting or writing. However, he hadn’t taken himself seriously as an artist — until now. “For years I wouldn’t call myself an artist. Now I feel comfortable saying it,” he said, adding that painting “is literally keeping me sane.”
And it’s no secret that sanity is something he particularly needs now, after finding himself embroiled in the impeachment proceedings after it was revealed that the president requested foreign assistance to investigate Hunter’s role with Ukrainian gas company Burisma. Fortunately, art offers him an escape from that.
“The one thing I have left is my art. It’s the one thing they can’t take away from me or conflate with anything else,” he said. “It keeps me away from people and places where I shouldn’t be.”
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