The Betty Ford Center Opens (Oct. 4, 1982)
Kate Andersen Brower
Today, with the opioid crisis currently raging, the importance of the opening of the Betty Ford Center—and Betty Ford’s own painful coming to terms with her own addiction, which she did very publicly—is clear. She brought addiction out of the shadows in a way that no one had done before. Unfortunately, there’s still a huge amount of shame attached to addiction of any sort, but I can only imagine how it would be without the Betty Ford Center, which has helped so many people. Betty said that she had always pictured an alcoholic as a sloppy, disheveled person, not a put-together woman who was living in the White House. Today, we know that addiction is common and doesn’t only happen to a certain type of person. She used her position as former First Lady in a surprisingly personal way that we don’t really see anymore, and she changed the way the country dealt with a very serious condition. Betty Ford saved an untold number of lives by exposing her own private struggle.
Kate Andersen Brower is the author of First Women: The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies and The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House.