Betty Ford was a woman who came to be admired and loved during
and after the time her husband Gerald Ford served as the President
of the United States. She found a way to overcome addiction to
pills and alcohol, and aided in the founding of the Betty Ford
Center, one of the most well-known American rehabilitation centers.
Through all the years, her husband found strength in her, helping
him to lead the country through some difficult days. She was admired
for the courage she displayed in not only facing her struggles,
but in sharing them with the people in the United States. She
put a high-profile face to a problem that is too often dealt with
Betty Ford was a popular first lady and she was open in her speech
about what she believed in. After her husband's term was over
and then again after his death, she could usually be found at
the clinic that bore her name.
Mrs. Ford also battled breast cancer and had a radical mastectomy,
although this is not as often discussed as is her battle with
addiction. She began to become dependent on medications in 1964.
She was prescribed a medicine for pain related to a pinched nerve
and neck injury. She also drank to excess, especially when her
husband's political career caused him to be absent from the home
a great deal.
Feeling Less Important ...
Betty Ford faced her loneliness and lack of self-esteem without
a way to express the way she was feeling. She dealt with her self-imposed
insecurities by resorting to alcohol and pills. She understood
later in life that she was actually trying to wipe out not only
physical pain, but emotional pain, as well. She loved being the
wife of a political figure, but it made her feel less important.
The year after the Fords left the White House, her family, along
with a few close friends, confronted Betty Ford about her abuse
of pills and alcohol. She refused at that time to acknowledge
that she even had a problem and was upset with her family for
bringing the issue to light. Eventually she would decide to seek
treatment for her addiction at California's Long Beach Naval Hospital.
Her eventual triumph over her addictions resulted in the dedication
of the Betty Ford Center in 1982. It is located near Palm Springs,
California. The venture was not for profit, and she headed the
plans to build the center along with Leonard K. Firestone, who
raised a large part of the monies needed.
The 12 Steps of Betty Ford ...
The Betty Ford Center adopted the philosophy of 12 steps from
Alcoholics Anonymous. This philosophy is based on learning about
the identification and expression of feelings, as well as on interaction
with peers. The center would be home to various celebrities through
the years, spending time there for their problems.
Mrs. Ford was always hesitant about taking credit for the work
done at the center, even though it bore her name. She wanted the
credit to go to the people who were actually overcoming their
demons. She endeavored to make the center a place where everyone
would feel that they were important, and that they had dignity.