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The demonization of Hunter Biden for his struggles with addiction needs to end. (Op-Ed)

Addiction is a disease, and Hunter Biden, the second son of President Joe Biden, suffers from that disease. We should not be demonizing the younger Biden for his struggles with addiction, a disease that affects an estimated 46.3 million Americans. Recovery from addiction is not always linear; relapses are very common. According to the Turning Point of Tampa, between 40% and 60% of addicts will inevitably relapse. For addicts to overcome their addiction, they need a dedicated, stable support system. Hunter Biden is no different. Avoiding stress is a large part of recovery, and Hunter believes that democracy is contingent on his sobriety.

When his older brother, Beau Biden, passed away in 2015, he fell into a state of depression and grief. After completing a rehabilitation program in 2018, Hunter purchased a firearm in a moment of desperation, telling a family friend: “I know you all think the wrong brother died.” Because Hunter lied on the application for the weapon, stating he was not using drugs when he was under the influence, he now faces criminal charges for this offense. Hunter did not arm anyone with the firearm; he had a moment of suicidal ideation and almost acted on it. While lying on an application form for a firearm is wrong, it is exceptionally cruel to charge a suicidal individual for their mistakes. We want people in mental health crises to recover, not be penalized for surviving.

Cocaine is the third most used illicit drug in the United States. It is estimated by the National Institute on Drug Abuse that as of 2021, 1.3 million people are dealing with cocaine use disorder. Addiction does not discriminate; anyone could develop an addiction to an illicit substance in their lifetime. Yes, even children of presidents can suffer from addiction.

It feels as if the Republican party truly wants Hunter to relapse, but he swore in federal court to have been sober since June 1st, 2019. A representative from Hunter’s legal team shared with Axios that Hunter has repeatedly tested negative for alcohol and drugs since a hearing in September of 2023. Magistrate Judge Christopher Burk concurs with these statements.

It is perfectly acceptable to hold Hunter accountable for his mistakes, disagree with his political stance, or feel that he is untrustworthy. It is not acceptable to continuously shove his struggles with addiction in his face at every turn. Hunter is a human being. Chances are you know and love someone who is struggling with addiction, so perhaps criticize Hunter for his choices and actions, not his addiction.

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