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

Katherine’s a Boston-based contributor at Marie Claire who covers fashion, culture, and lifestyle—from “Clueless” to Everlane to news about Lizzo. She’s been a freelancer for 11 years and has had roles with Cosmopolitan and Bustle, with bylines in Parents, Seventeen, and elsewhere. It’s “I go to dinner,” not “Her huge ego,” but she responds to both.