Fifty-six years ago the American Medical Association categorized alcoholism as a disease and today the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse estimates one in 12 adults are suffering from alcohol abuse or dependence. Despite its prevalence, addiction is so stigmatized, we’re often shocked to learn a public figure is suffering from it. The case of cable news anchor Laurie Dhue is no different.
When Dhue shared her struggles with the audience of a prayer dinner in Washington, D.C., she said she didn’t think it was an on-the-record event, but the following morning, the Internet was abuzz with her “bombshell” confession.
“At the time I thought, ‘well, I can either bury my head in the sand and hope it goes away,’ or I have this phenomenal opportunity to educate people about not only the disease of addiction — that kills far more people than breast cancer every year — I’ve got the opportunity to educate people about this disease and hopefully help one person, because if I can help one person, then I’ve done my job,” she tells MetroFocus Contributor Mary Alice Williams.
Dhue, who hosted shows on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News, says she kept her addiction secret and lived a “double life” for at least 15 years until she successful entered recovery in March 2007.
“Let me clarify one thing, I was never on the air buzzed. I would be deeply hungover at work probably with still alcohol in my system, but I want to make very clear I was never drunk on the air,” she said. “But yes I was drunk when I met President George W. Bush, and I think that really highlights the extent to which this disease affects people. You would think that I would be sober to meet the sitting president of the United States and yet it was a very conscious decision, ‘I’m going to have a buzz when I meet this guy.’ And that’s sad, isn’t it?”
Dhue now speaks publicly about her experiences at length and says she’s one of 23 million Americans living with the disease.
“I just think that we’re in a real epidemic in this country and if I can just help put a face on addiction and show people that this is what addiction looks and this is what recovery looks like, then I’m doing my job,” she said.