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- Hunter Biden, former Vice President Joe Biden‘s eldest son, opened up about his years-long struggles with alcohol and drug addiction and his tumultuous recent divorce to the New Yorker.
- While his father has abstained from alcohol his entire life, Hunter began regularly drinking and using drugs — including cocaine — as a young man.
- Since 2003, Hunter was in and out of multiple rehab centers, achieving sobriety for periods of time before relapsing, which lead him to be discharged from the Navy Reserves in 2014.
- His addiction issues were a major contributing factor to his acrimonious 2017 divorce from his ex-wife Kathleen Biden, who he was married to for 22 years and had three children with.
- Hunter has since moved to California and gotten re-married in May 2019 to a South African-born woman named Melissa Cohen.
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Hunter Biden, former Vice President Joe Biden‘s eldest son, opened up about his years-long struggles with alcohol and drug addiction and his tumultuous recent divorce to the New Yorker’s Adam Entous in a profile published Monday.
Hunter, 49, has tried to stay out of the spotlight as his father gears up for his third run for president. But he’s been subjected to increased scrutiny in recent months over his business dealings in China and Ukraine, and over his personal life.
While his father has abstained from alcohol his entire life, Hunter began regularly drinking and using drugs — including cocaine — as a young man.
At the urging of his now ex-wife, Kathleen Biden, Hunter completed his first stint in rehab in Antigua in the fall of 2003, and began attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
Hunter said he achieved seven years of sobriety, but relapsed in 2010, prompting a return to the same treatment center in Antigua. He struggled again with alcohol use in 2013, drinking to help wean himself off the painkillers he had been prescribed for shingles.
Following the encouragement of a former Royal Australian Navy intelligence officer Hunter met through his business dealings, he enlisted in the Navy Reserves at age 43 and was assigned to a post in the public affairs division in 2013.
His time in the Navy was short-lived, however, when one of his urine tests came back positive for cocaine use. Hunter was dishonorably discharged in early 2014. He maintained he hadn’t used cocaine and believes he unintentionally smoked a regular cigarette that could have been laced with the drug.
After his discharge, Hunter traveled everywhere from Mexico, Arizona, and California in search of a treatment that would work, trying meditation, yoga, and ibogaine, a psychedelic drug derived from a West African shrub.
While his marriage came under strain from his addiction issues, Hunter suffered another blow with the sudden loss of his beloved older brother Beau to brain cancer in 2015.
Like his father, Beau dedicated his career to public service, working as a federal prosecutor, a major in the Army National Guard — where he completed a tour of duty in Iraq — and as Delaware’s attorney general.
Hunter told The New Yorker that Beau’s death inspired him to think about running for office himself, but that Kathleen immediately shot down the idea given his recent drug-related discharge.
Not long after, Hunter and Kathleen’s marriage fell apart after Kathleen gave him an ultimatum to either stop drinking or move out of their house.
While Biden re-enrolled in treatment programs, one of which included him taking a Breathalyzer everywhere, Hunter and Kathleen formally separated when a data breach at the dating site Ashley Madison — which is intended to help married people have affairs — revealed a secret profile under the name "Robert Biden," which Hunter denied having created.
Many of the details of Hunter’s drug and alcohol abuse came to light in the acrimonious divorce proceedings between him and Kathleen, his wife of 22 years who he had three children with.
In a divorce filing from early 2017 that was first reported by Page Six, Kathleen accused Hunter of having "created financial concerns for the family by spending extravagantly on his own interests (including drugs, alcohol, prostitutes, strip clubs, and gifts for women with whom he has sexual relations), while leaving the family with no funds to pay legitimate bills."
In the months after his separation from Kathleen, Hunter described hiding out in his Washington, DC apartment and drinking alone for weeks until his father intervened and implored him to go back to treatment, which he left again in 2016 after a relapse on cocaine.
After Hunter and Kathleen Biden separated in 2015, Hunter struck up a romantic relationship with Beau’s widow, Hallie Biden, which was first reported by Page Six in 2017, and put the grieving pair back in the spotlight. Hunter said that he and Hallie officially became a couple after a scary few days on the West Coast where Hertz employees found a crack pipe in a car he had rented; no charges were filed against him.
"We were sharing a very specific grief," Hunter told The New Yorker. "I started to think of Hallie as the only person in my life who understood my loss."
Hunter moved to California in 2018, and just a few months after he announced his split from Hallie, got re-married in May to a South African born woman named Melissa Cohen in May 2019, proposing to her a week after meeting and getting married in a whirlwind ceremony the next day.
Hunter said that his father called Cohen to thank her for "giving my son the courage to love again," adding, "and he said to me, ‘Honey, I knew that when you found love again that I’d get you back.’"
Just a few weeks after the wedding to Cohen, Hunter was sued for child support by an Arkansas woman named Lunden Alexis Roberts, who is claiming that Hunter is the father of her 11-month child; Hunter denied ever having sex with her to The New Yorker.
While Hunter expressed worry and guilt that his personal life and business record — which President Donald Trump has pledged to investigate – would hurt his father’s political prospects, neither father nor son seem fazed.
"We have an ongoing debate about who should be more sorry," Hunter told The New Yorker. "And we both realize that the only true antidote to any of this is winning. He says, ‘Look, it’s going to go away.’ There is truly a higher purpose here, and this will go away."
He added: "I told Melissa, ‘I don’t care. F— you, Mr. President. Here I am, living my life."
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