Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who admitted to crack cocaine use, and Florida Congressman Trey Radel, who pleaded guilty to one count of cocaine use, are just two of the politicians who've been caught taking illegal substances. When the International Business Times spoke with mental health and addiction expert Jamison Monroe Jr., CEO of Newport Academy, he explained that sometimes high-profile figures are more likely to turn toward illicit substances than other individuals.
“I think politicians as well as celebrities that are in the spotlight are under intense pressure and it can cause anxiety. They can be self-destructive and maladaptive coping mechanisms, but the bottom line is drugs work. They make you feel good. They make you forget about your problem. They give you euphoric release. The drugs and the alcohol are just symptoms,” Monroe explained about what the politicians might be trying to make themselves feel better about. “Positive and more healthy coping mechanisms need to be addressed.”
But that’s not the only reason politicians could be more likely to use illegal drugs. Monroe added that they could also essentially suffer from inflated egos and think they don’t have to play by the same rules as everyone else. “If you look at the senators and congressmen, for example, they’re so isolated from the real world that they forget they’re just normal people too,” he said. “They lose sight of that and they think they’re immune things that normal people are not.”
Further, Monroe added that those who are struggling with drugs and alcohol might be less inclinded to seek treatment because of the stigma that is attached to being an addict. “Unfortunately, a lot of times people won’t seek proper treatment,” the addiction specialist said. “Because they’re afraid how it will impact their office.”
He went on to add that some may perceive addiction as a weakness, but instead, it’s a disease that can be overcome. “There is life after addiction,” Monroe said. “Recovery is possible.”
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That’s what Radel is hoping for.
The Florida Republican congressman pled guilty to one count of cocaine possession during a Washington, D.C. court appearance on Wednesday, ABC News reported. The congressman admitted to being an addict and promised to seek treatment. He’s been placed on a one year probation with “minimal supervision.”
The 37-year-old said he will seek treatment so he can "be a better man, a better husband, and continue serving this country.”
"Your honor, I apologize for what I've done," Radel said in a low voice to Judge Robert Tignor. "I have hit the bottom ... I realize I need help and have aggressively sought the help... I am so sorry to be here. I know that I've let my constituents down, my country down, and most importantly my family, including my 2-year-old who doesn't know it yet."
Radel's lawyer David Schertler said to the court, "He has a disease... He recognizes that this isn't a problem that is going away overnight."
The congressman was discovered using cocaine during an undercover sting operation, prosecutors revealed in court. Radel was suspected of cocaine use after a drug dealer who was under investigation by a Drug Enforcement Administration and FBI task force told said the Florida congressman was one of his customers, sources said, as per ABC News.
Prosecutors alleged Radel purchased cocaine several times for personal use and would share it with others “on occasion,” according to confidential sources. An undercover officer met with Radel on Oct. 29 around 10 p.m. at a Washington restaurant and the Florida congressman said they could go back to his apartment to use cocaine.
Though the uncover officer declined to share cocaine with Radel, he said he could sell 3.5 grams of coke. Prosecutors said the Florida congressman gave the undercover officer $260 outside of the restaurant and the officer then gave him the cocaine inside of a car.
"What did you believe you were purchasing?" the judge asked Radel, according to ABC News. "A drug. Cocaine. I plead guilty," the congressman said.
Federal authorities approached Radel once he stepped out of the vehicle and he then dropped the bag of coke on the street. He admitted he bought cocaine to officers. Prosecutors told the court that authorities followed the congressman back to his apartment where he turned over a vial of cocaine.
Radel took to his official Facebook page on Tuesday to apologize. “I struggle with the disease of alcoholism, and this led to an extremely irresponsible choice,” he wrote. “Believe me, I am disappointed in myself, and I stand ready to face the consequences of my actions.”
But before he was busted for cocaine use, Radel’s personal Facebook account is chock full of pictures that show him partying around the world. In many of the photos he has alcohol in his hands. "Guadalajara, Mexico & Tequila, Mexico,” a caption from a 2008 picture to Mexico reads.