Growing up with family members who also struggled with addiction, Hunter, 49, said he initially avoided alcohol, but told the magazine that he started casually drinking as a teenager, and then began using cocaine in college. "Look, everybody faces pain," he said in the interview. "Everybody has trauma. There’s addiction in every family. I was in that darkness. I was in that tunnel—it’s a never-ending tunnel. You don’t get rid of it. You figure out how to deal with it."
Once in college, Hunter recalled buying crack accidentally, and smoking it inside of a cigarette because, “I didn’t have a pipe,” he told The New Yorker. Later, when he relapsed in 2016 shortly after the death of his brother Beau Biden, he described buying crack again from a homeless person in Los Angeles, and not sleeping for days because he "needed a way to forget." At the time, Hunter was supposed to be headed to a rehab center in Sedona, Arizona, called Grace Grove.
The interview also details Biden's experience trying to get sober, attending various rehab clinics, and entering treatment programs multiple times. When Biden got a job at a Reserve unit at Naval Station Norfolk in 2013, he failed a urine drug test that showed he had done cocaine, and was discharged. In 2014 shortly after, he went to a treatment center in Tijuana, which used ibogaine (an illegal root-derived medication) and encouraged meditation to help treat his addiction. He also went on a 12-step yoga retreat in Big Sur that same year, and attempted to use yoga to heal.
In 2016, Hunter's wife Kathleen Biden filed for divorce, stating in the motion filed a year later that Hunter "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." After the divorce, he went on to date his late brother's widowed wife, Hallie Biden.
The pair broke up, and this summer, Hunter married Melissa Cohen, a filmmaker from South Africa. When he told his father the news, Joe Biden told Cohen, "Thank you for giving my son the courage to love again." Hunter said he told him, "Dad, I always had love. And the only thing that allowed me to see it was the fact that you never gave up on me, you always believed in me."
If you are struggling with substance abuse, please call the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for free and confidential information.