History of Presidential Drug & Alcohol Abuse


George W. Bush

There has been no shortage of controversy when it comes to the younger years of our current president. Described as irresponsible and a risk-taker, Bush has admitted to an excess of alcohol consumption for much of his early life. He was well known for drinking in excess throughout college, and for being the type of drunk who acted out and lost all inhibitions. From his early twenties until the time he was 30, Bush was arrested for disorderly conduct, was seen acting inappropriately in a number of high class social situations, and was arrested for driving drunk near his family’s home in Maine. He subsequently had his license suspended for two years. Bush claims to have quit drinking after waking up with a hangover on his 40th birthday. While Bush maintains claims of his sobriety, there has been recent press accounting for his drinking, and in June of 2007, a photo was taken showing bush drinking a beer at the G8 Summit in Germany.


Bush Drunk Footage

Illegal Drugs:

Bush claims he has not used any illegal drugs since 1974. There have been reports that Bush was arrested for cocaine possession, with the records later being expunged. It has been speculated that Bush’s cessation of flying in 1972, as the result of his refusal to take a physical exam, was the result of his fear of a subsequent drug test which may have found him in violation of drug use policies.
The following is a parody of Bush’s sometimes impaired-sounding cadence of speech.

Bill Clinton

During the Clinton years, there was certain controversy over his possible use of Marijuana. While younger, Clinton admitted to using marijuana, although he famously claimed that he “did not inhale.” This type of double-talk revisited him again during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and Clinton is believed by many to have experimented with not only marijuana but with a number of other illicit substances.
There are unsubstantiated rumors that arose about an incident that took place in the 1980’s while Clinton was still governor of Arkansas. According to Dr. Sam Houston, a well respected doctor in Little Rock (and one-time doctor to Hillary’s father), has made claims regarding an alleged cocaine overdose by Clinton. Apparently the incident is well known in Little Rock medical circles and the incident is well chronicled.
According to Dr. Houston, then Governor Clinton arrived at the hospital with the help a state trooper, followed closely behind by his wife, Hillary. While Bill was being treated, it has been claimed that Hillary made numerous threats to on-call doctors, warning that if word leaked about Clinton’s drug use, she would have their medical licenses revoked. Later on, Dr. Houston was quoted by the “Clinton Chronicles” as saying “Dr. Suen, S-U-E-N, a doctor at the medical center here in Little Rock that’s taken care of Bill Clinton for his sinus problems, which may indeed be drug related to cocaine use, as they destroy the sinus passages (there is a word missing here or something). Governor Bill Clinton was taken into the hospital, I believe it was the medical center, on at least one or two occasions, for cocaine abuse and overdosage, in which he actually had to be cared for at the hospital.”


Richard Nixon

According to a little-publicized report in a recent book chronicling the “secret life” of Richard Nixon, claims were made regarding not only his latent violence and teetering psychosis, but also regarding his use and possible abuse of the drug Dilantin. Dilantin, the brand name of a common antiepileptic known as Phenytoin, slows brain activity. It controls conductivity between brain cells and has been said to have anxiety-controlling and mood-stabilizing effects. Reports from users also claim it produces a strong alcohol-like buzz that can last for days.
Jack Dreyfus, the founder of the Dreyfus Fund, was a major proponent of the use of phenytoin, and was known to have originally prescribed the drug to Nixon himself. Further accounts state that Dreyfus supplied “remarkable amounts” of Phenytoin to Nixon throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Nixon apologetics don’t dispute Nixon’s acceptance of the Dilatin pills, but claim only that he did so as a courtesy to his friend Dreyfus, who had developed a strange obsession with the drug.


John F. Kennedy

Although it is not widely discussed, Kennedy was not a healthy man for much of his life. In fact, he was read his last rites two times before his assassination, and was known for having spent much of his life and presidency covering up his significant illnesses. The most severe of which was Addison’s disease, which required him to take constant doses of testosterone. This dosing is well accounted for, and while it was never at the status of abuse, it was believed by some to be the catalyst behind some of his more infamous infidelities and his significant and difficult-to-control libido.
One of Kennedy’s supposed mistresses (in fact, his supposed favorite mistress), Mary Pinchot Meyer, was known to have described a number of Kennedy’s illegal misgivings, including his use of marijuana and LSD. According to Meyer, as described by James Truitt, she was having a prolonged affair with Kennedy, and had admitted to smoking marijuana with the president. Furthermore, she was later quoted as telling Timothy Leary (LSD advocate), about her experiences on LSD with Kennedy, and a small circle of some of the most powerful men in Washington. The day after the Kennedy assassination, Meyer called Leary desperately sobbing, claiming that “they” could no longer “control him.”


Presidential Hopefuls:

Al Gore

While he may currently have achieved a sparkly and glowing aura in the eyes of the nation, Al Gore is rumored by many to have had a somewhat shady past. Including in this haze is his supposed use of drugs during and after his stint in Vietnam and for a period of time after his return from the war. While Gore has publically admitted to smoking pot, he has made claims it was only a “few times.” Former college friends and acquaintances, have a different story to tell, however. According to them, Gore was a significant user of marijuana, and spent a great deal of his time in college smoking pot in his dorm room and watching TV. Friends of Gore, such as John Warnecke, say that Gore got high upwards of three to four times per week. He claimed that Gore liked to get high while listening to the Grateful Dead, and talked about grandiose things like what he would do if he were president. Gore was described by his friends as the sort of stoner who was a mix of melancholy, paranoia and expansiveness.


Dan Quayle

Dan Quayle was known to have experimented with a number of illicit drugs during his college years. In his college yearbook at DePauw University, there is one image with a caption “The Trip’ is a colorful psychedelic journey into the wild sights and sounds produced by LSD.” Later on in his career, a convicted drug dealer by the name of Brett Kimberlin told a New York radio station that he had been Quayle’s pot dealer through college. Apparently Quayle bought small quantities of marijuana from the man every month for a period of nearly two years. When he and his wife got married, his dealer gave him a present of some Afghanistan hashish known as “Acapulco Gold.”


John Kerry

John Kerry has, in the past, voiced some support for the decriminalization of marijuana and has been quoted as saying “I’ve met plenty of people in my lifetime who’ve used marijuana and who I would not qualify as serious addicts — who use about the same amount as some people drink beer or wine or have a cocktail. I don’t get too excited by any of that.” When asked during a live debate in November 2003 on CNN, Kerry was asked if he had ever smoked marijuana. Honestly, Kerry responded that he had.


Barack Obama

Recently there has been some controversy surrounding Barack Obama’s admission regarding his drug use during his youth. While he maintains that he has not touched any illegal drugs in at least 20 years, his own biography reveals that he tried a number of illicit substances as a young man. He wrote “I had learned not to care; I blew a few smoke rings, remembering those years. Pot had helped, and booze; maybe a little blow when you could afford it. Not smack, though.” Obama wrote additionally “Junkie, Pothead, That’s where I’d been headed; the final, fatal role of the young would-be black man.” Eventually, Obama claims, drug use came to hold no appeal, and seemed only a roadblock to his eventual happiness. He writes that he prefers to keep his life as a literal open book, and explains that his drug use, by the time he was 20, was no more than a memory.


Alcoholic Presidents:

http://www.doctorzebra.com/prez – Based on the book “The Health of the Presidents.”

Ulysses Grant
While some may argue that Ulysses Grant was not by classical terms an “alcoholic,” there is certainly evidence to suggest that he had a problem with drinking. During his military career, he was known for his heavy drinking, but it typically did not interfere with his performance. At one point, however, after his distinguished service during the Mexican war, Grant was stationed in an isolated outpost in Oregon. His loneliness drove him to excessive drinking, which eventually led to his resignation and relief of duties. During his presidency, Grant continued to drink, and was known to have been drunk at his inauguration. Additionally, the President died of throat cancer, which can certainly be attributed at least partially to his heavy alcohol consumption.

Grover Cleveland
Alcohol use has been somewhat of a constant for a number of U.S. presidents. One of the less offending, though still arguably alcoholic presidents, was Grover Cleveland. He was well known to “enjoy beer,” but according to many, he had some trouble controlling his appetite for it. According to one friend, Lyman K. Bass, he drank as many as four to eight beers daily and was well known for his prodigious beer belly.

Martin Van Buren
While not widely considered an alcoholic, Martin Van Buren was certainly a man known for his ability to drink. Like a number of other presidents, Van Buren was able to drink large quantities of alcohol from a young age without seeming drunk. He eventually gained the nickname “Blue Whiskey Van” and it was believed that his heavy drinking lasted well into his time in the White House.

James Buchanan
James Buchanan was known by many as a man with sophisticated taste, who was celebrated by some for his serious drinking abilities. He was known to have complained about the size of champagne bottles in the white house, and was amused when guests mistook his ten-gallon cask of Jacob Baer Whiskey to be his own special blend. He was known to have consumed as many as two or three bottles of cognac and old rye a week, and was known by the press for his ability to resist the effects of alcohol in high doses- an obvious hallmark of alcoholic tolerance.

Franklin Pierce
Franklin Pierce was perhaps the presidency’s greatest drunk, consuming great quantities of alcohol while in office, and appearing drunk in a number of instances. Shortly before he was inaugurated, the president and his wife were involved in a train accident where their only son was nearly decapitated before their eyes. As a result of the traumatic incident (which his wife attributed to God’s intervention in an attempt to remove distractions from his presidential bid), Pierce became significantly depressed and saw the accident as punishment for his sins. Pierce was described as “an alcoholic” by everyone who was close to him. At the end of his presidential term, when asked what was next for him, Pierce was known to have responded by saying “There is nothing left…but to get drunk.”

While not widely considered alcoholics, a number of other presidents were known for their fondness of drink. The following are thought to be some of their favorite cocktails.

Gin and tonic (Gerald Ford)
Martini (Herbert Hoover)
Rum and coke; dry martini (Richard Nixon)
Scotch or brandy (Franklin Roosevelt)
Bourbon (Harry Truman)
Scotch and soda (Lyndon Johnson)

Use of Cannabis in Early Presidencies

While it is certainly debated, there seems to be significant evidence for the use of cannabis by many of our founding fathers. It is unclear just how prevalent smoking of cannabis was during the colonial era, but it is fact that a number of men, including George Washington, were aware of the effects of the drug and likely used it themselves. President George Washington was known to have written a letter with a veiled reference to hashish. He said, “The artificial preparation of hemp, from Silesia, is a real curiosity.” He went on to discuss the dissemination of hemp seeds and the separation of male and female hemp plants in an effort to increase the potency of smoked cannabis. He, along with Thomas Jefferson farmed hemp at one point in their life. Jefferson and Ben Franklin, additionally, were ambassadors to France during the period of time that hashish was in vogue, and they likely partook in these new experiences. According to a researcher at the American Historical Reference Society and consultant for the Smithsonian, Dr. Burke, there is plenty of evidence to suggest a number of our presidents smoked cannabis. According to him, Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Jackson, Taylor and Pierce all took pleasure from smoking hemp during their presidency. Pierce was even quoted as saying that smoking cannabis was the only positive thing about the Mexican War.