Why Joe Biden Doesn't Drink Alcohol

"There are enough alcoholics in my family," he's explained.

joe biden gestures as he speaks during a campaign rally at the wwi museum and memorial in kansas city, missouri on march 7, 2020 photo by mandel ngan afp photo by mandel nganafp via getty images, democratic presidential candidate former vice president
(Image credit: AFP)

Former vice president and current presidential candidate Joe Biden Jr. has said that his father, Joe Biden Sr., has greatly impacted his life. Starting out life wealthy but suffering business and personal setbacks throughout his life, Joe Sr. taught his son about how to get back up after being knocked down. Joe Jr.'s family and neighbors also, inadvertently, taught him about the dangers of alcohol—and it's the reason he doesn't drink, according to him. Addiction has also touched his children, and Joe Jr. has sought to have an impact in that part of their lives as well. Here's what led to Biden's decision to stay sober and perspective about doing so.

Joe Biden saw the effect of alcohol addiction on others.

Joe Jr. has specifically said why he doesn't drink at all: "There are enough alcoholics in my family," he said in 2008 on the campaign trail. Joe Sr., was not an alcoholic but did drink. His mother's side of the family (maiden name Finnegan) and their neighborhood, however, suffered more severe effects.

"'Every family had it,' said Tom Bell, one of Senator Biden’s childhood friends from Scranton who remains close to him. 'But the Finnegans had more than their share.'" Later in life, Biden apparently saw the impact on his brother, Frank ("Frankie"), who is now apparently a recovering alcoholic.

Hunter Biden is an addict.

The Biden family has suffered a great deal of tragedy. In 1972, Joe Jr.'s wife and daughter were killed in a car accident, and his two sons were critically injured. In particular, his youngest son, Hunter Biden, suffered a serious head injury. In 2001, Joe Jr's other son, Beau, died from brain cancer.

Hunter has been candid about his addiction to drugs and alcohol. He first sought treatment with the support of his brother Beau in 2001. He has been in rehab five times, including in the aftermath of Beau's 2015 death.

According to Hunter, his father has helped him through particularly difficult times in his journey to recovery, at one point insisting that Hunter needed help. The two still correspond regularly, and Hunter now says his recent work as an artist is "literally keeping me sane."

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Katherine J. Igoe
Contributing Editor

Katherine’s a contributing syndications editor at Marie Claire who covers fashion, culture, and lifestyle. In her role, she writes stories that are syndicated by MSN and other outlets. She’s been a full-time freelancer for over a decade and has had roles with Cosmopolitan (where she covered lifestyle, culture, and fashion SEO content) and Bustle (where she was their movies and culture writer). She has bylines in New York TimesParentsInStyle, Refinery29, and elsewhere. Her work has also been syndicated by ELLEHarper’s BazaarSeventeenGood Housekeeping, and Women’s Health, among others. In addition to her stories reaching millions of readers, content she's written and edited has qualified for a Bell Ringer Award and received a Communicator Award. 

Katherine has a BA in English and art history from the University of Notre Dame and an MA in art business from the Sotheby's Institute of Art (with a focus on marketing/communications). She covers a wide breadth of topics: she's written about how to find the very best petite jeanshow sustainable travel has found its footing on Instagram, and what it's like to be a professional advice-giver in the modern world. Her personal essays have run the gamut from learning to dress as a queer woman to navigating food allergies as a mom. She also has deep knowledge of SEO/EATT, affiliate revenue, commerce, and social media; she regularly edits the work of other writers. She speaks at writing-related events and podcasts about freelancing and journalism, mentors students and other new writers, and consults on coursework. Currently, Katherine lives in Boston with her husband and two kids, and you can follow her on Instagram. If you're wondering about her last name, it’s “I go to dinner,” not “Her huge ego,” but she responds to both.