In Biden’s new invitation, “Good Things,” he talks about his lifelong struggle with addiction, and his family’s efforts to rescue him.
He said the anxiety and trauma he experienced as a child, with the death of his mother and one-year-old sister, contributed to his alcoholism and breakup – and it was a disagreement with his future wife that saved him.
Hunter’s war of addiction began with the feeling of loneliness he said he had felt since he was a child: “The feeling of never going inside. That hole. And you never know what it is exactly.”
Mason asked, “Where do you think that feeling comes from?”
“I’m convinced now, that trauma is your backbone.”
“What trauma – the loss of your mother?”
“Yeah. Absolutely. And I don’t know why I had such a hard time admitting that.”
Biden’s mother, Neilia Biden, and her one-year-old sister, Naomi, were killed in a car accident in 1972. She and her older brother, Beau, who were only two and three years old at the time, suffered serious injuries, but survived. Their father, Joe, was sworn in for the first time as a senator in front of their hospital bed.
“I think there is a lot of research now that points to the idea that almost all addicts who suffer from addiction have a lot of trauma in their lives,” Hunter said.
In his letter Hunter writes, “Beau and I have never really mourned the loss of our mother or baby sister.”
“Didn’t you talk about it with your father?” asked Mason
“We’ve always talked about mom and dad. But the real danger, no,” he replied. “The darkness I know my father suffered after that was not something we talked about until the end.”
“Do you wish you had it now?”
“No. That’s where I am … it’s hard. That’s why I don’t want to admit that we should have it. I think they were trying to protect us,” he said.
The book chronicles Biden’s struggle with alcohol and cocaine. In one case, he was able to stay clean for over seven years. But when Beau died of brain cancer in 2015, Hunter began a four-year decline and entered the darkest period of his addiction, what he called “the blurring of complete and complete corruption.”
“Drinking a liter of vodka a day alone in a room is very bad,” Hunter told Mason, adding that he “smokes cracking day and night” and “drinks dangerously dangerous alcohol.”
In 2019, he would be the victim of Trump’s campaign and yet, Hunter said, “It hasn’t changed the way I behaved. I still needed to go up. I still need to hide. I still need to fill that hole.”
When her father planned to become president, Hunter, who had left three daughters and a failed marriage, was living outside the motels on the street, chasing his next fix.
Afterwards, the family planned a surprise intervention, hidden as an invitation to a family meal.
Mason asked, “Why did you agree to leave?”
“My mother said she missed me. ‘Dad,’ she said, ‘Daddy really does need you, my love.”
“But you weren’t really in a position to go?”
“No. And I went in and there were my three girls, my niece and nephew, my mom and dad, and two counselors from the rehab center I had been with. And I looked at myself and said, ‘It’s not an opportunity. It’s impossible.'”
“It exploded, it actually started the road climb.”
“And your father chased you?”
“Yeah, he grabbed me and hugged me. And he grabbed me. [He gives me] a bag hug. And he said, he just cried and said, ‘I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do.'”
“What did you think when you heard that?”
“I thought, ‘I need to find a way to tell him I’m going to do something so I can take something else,’ ‘Hunter recalls. “The only thing I could think of. I do not know with greater power than the love of my family, without addiction.
“I said I was going to seek help. I booked the next flight to Los Angeles, I decided I would disappear completely.”
But before he disappeared, Hunter agreed to be interviewed by the New Yorker. He said, “It’s part of what saved me, though. I started telling my story.”
Mason said, “A lot of people look at that New Yorker article and think, ‘Why are you doing this to your dad now?'”
“Yeah. And I was looking at it that way, I was going to take away their bullets,” Hunter said. “One thing I thought they would try to use against [my father] was my drug addiction, the idea that I was addicted to crack.”
“Did you want to put it there before they used it on you, and on your father?”
“Yeah, really, really. And no one in the campaign knows I was there. Because I knew they were going to say no.”
What happens next, Biden calls it “a miracle.”
On a blind date, he met Melissa Cohen, an aspiring South African filmmaker. They had instant communication.
“Then I told him an hour later, I said, ‘I’m a crack addict,'” Hunter said.
“And he didn’t run away?”
“He said, ‘Okay, that’s over now.'”
Mason asked, “Do you think this was your last chance?”
“Yeah. I didn’t know this was my last chance.”
Just seven days later, they were married. Last year their son, Beau, was born.
With Melissa’s help, Hunter Biden began repairing the damage. One of the deepest wounds in his family: his love for his brother’s widow, Hallie, shortly after Beau’s death.
Mason asked, “A lot of people look at that and think, ‘What did you think?’ What did you think? “
Hunter replied, “We both went through a terrible loss. And it was because of love. And I thought maybe that love would bring my brother back. And it didn’t work.”