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Former First Lady Betty Ford “Thank yourself; you’re the one who did it.”

Pat Moore Foundation was greatly saddened this past weekend over the passing of a wonderful pioneer in the field of addiction and addiction recovery. Betty Ford, former first lady, had the courage to speak out on addictive disease, which ultimately changed the face of how addiction is perceived. In 1982, Former First Lady Betty Ford and Ambassador Leonard Firestone founded the first licensed Addiction Hospital in the world.

“We at Pat Moore Foundation admired Betty Ford who overcame alcoholism and an addiction to pills,” said Phil Allen, CEO of Pat Moore Foundation. “Her courage to face, and most importantly share, her personal struggles strengthened the addiction community, allowing people to see that addiction can be in anyone’s home. I cannot imagine what the universe would have been like without her.”

In 1964, after suffering a neck injury and pinched nerve, Ms. Ford’s dependency on medical prescription medication began, and compounded with feelings of loneliness as her husband’s Congressional career grew, Ms. Ford’s drinking became worrisome. In the second volume of her 1987 autobiography, “Betty: A Glad Awakening” she recalled, “Now I know that some of the pain I was trying to wipe out was emotional,” which referred to her feelings of low self-esteem and paralyzing self-consciousness concerning issues like her lack of a college degree. She also recalls in this poignant autobiography, “The more important Jerry became, the less important I became.”

In 1978, her husband, children, and friends confronted Ms. Ford about her drinking and abuse of prescription medication. She steadfastly refused to believe or even acknowledge a problem even existed. After repeated discussions, First Lady Ford ultimately entered the Long Beach Naval Hospital in California for treatment of her addiction.

“One of my favorites stories of Betty Ford, and there are many,” says Phil Allen, “is when she said she was in a 12-Step meeting and someone turned to her, thanking her. She hugged the person and said, ‘Don’t thank me, thank yourself, you’re the one who did it, with God’s help.’ For me, no statement could be truer.”