Nation's Drug Czar Is Recovering Alcoholic
Michael Botticelli says his battle with addiction helps him know 'his peeps' better
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 29, 2014 12:29 PM CDT
Michael Botticelli, deputy director, Office of National Drug Control Policy, listens while testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014.   (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
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(Newser) – Washington's drug czar has battled substance abuse from two angles: as director of the Massachusetts bureau of substance abuse services and as a victim. Michael Botticelli, who describes himself as a recovering alcoholic, found himself broke and handcuffed to a hospital bed after a drunk-driving accident in the 1980s, the Washington Post reports. Botticelli has now been sober for 25 years and says he understands the issues facing people with substance abuse issues—or as Botticelli calls them, "my peeps."

"I'm one of 23 million Americans in recovery who have gone on to live productive lives," Botticelli told the AP last week. "We've been encouraging, not just with me, but with other people, to tell their stories." Botticelli—who has been acting head of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy since March and has been nominated to take over full time—favors treatment over incarceration and is focusing on getting jobs and housing for those battling addiction. "We can't arrest and incarcerate our way out of the problem," he says. (Click to read one argument on why a doctor should be in Botticelli's place.)