Steve Ford Speaks Plainly About Alcoholism

By: Ryan McCormick Last Updated: August 27, 2010

Steve Ford is an actor. He's acted in various minor roles including Black Hawk Down, When Harry Met Sally, and Transformers. He's the youngest son of former President, Gerald Ford. A veil of success might cause someone to think a guy like him has no flaws, but what you might not know is that Steve Ford is a former alcoholic and binge drinker.

"I went to my mom and said, 'Mom, I think I'm an alcoholic'," said Ford, recounting his story from eighteen years ago.

On August 27, 2010, Ford spoke to a large group of business professionals and workers in the medical industry as a part of Porter-Starke's Mental Health and Substance Abuse Symposium at the Harre Union on the Valparaiso University campus. An excellent public speaker, full of humor, clarity and wit, Steve Ford shared from his elaborate storehouse of stories about traveling around the frontier West with ten of his Secret Service agents, about how his father received a call from President Richard Nixon to become Vice President and hung up on him, and about his family's struggles with substance abuse.

As history goes, Steve's father, Gerald, was sworn into presidency in August 1974 becoming the only U.S. President to ever be President without the vote of the people. In 1976 after Ford lost the Presidency, he began travelling around a lot leaving his wife, Betty Ford, alone quite a bit at their new home in California. With the kids out of the house and a husband that wasn't home very frequently, she fell into melancholy, depression and eventually alcoholism.

"Dad said, 'We have to do something to help Mom'," explained the younger Ford.

After an intervention which was virtually unheard of in that day, Betty Ford received counseling and help at the Long Beach Naval Hospital and fully recovered. Later after much urging from friends and family, Ford opened the Betty Ford Center in California to help those who struggle with chemical dependency. "She completely changed the face of alcoholism," Ford said. Ford went on to describe his own experiences and fight with alcoholism. At the most successful point in his life, hosting a show for NBC and being engaged to the girl of his dreams, it hit him.

"I was standing in a shower at a hotel in Toronto crying, trying to wash the shame off," Ford said.

He struggled with a secret shame due to alcoholism that ate at him and wouldn't go away until he shared his problem with others. At that point, Ford started his recovery and went with outpatient services similar to the services that Porter-Starke offers. "You can't do it on your own," said Ford. "You have to stay in relationship, in a community. That's what we're talking about today."

To receive more information about Porter-Starke's services or to contribute to their cause, please call (219) 531-3500 or visit
www.porterstarke.org.