Alcoholism, Fatherhood, and a US Senator

Alcoholism, Fatherhood, and a US Senator

Through the years of my son’s active addiction, what I wanted most was a story of survival.  How could someone overcome the lethal grip of alcohol or drugs and return to a “normal,” healthy life?

Like many people who love someone with addiction, I needed hope.

Well-known Annapolis author John W. Frece has just published a biography that offers such hope.

If a US Senator, a war hero, an acclaimed horseman, husband to three wives, father to five children and stepfather to four, could reclaim his life, then there must be hope for others.

Such is the story Frece tells in his latest work, Self-Destruction:  The rise, fall and redemption of U.S. Senator Daniel B. Brewster.

What makes Brewster’s story so compelling – aside from the interesting details of his life as a decorated Marine who fought in Okinawa, or a highly regarded politician befriended by presidents – was not how alcoholism wrecked his life, but how he overcame it.

Of course, the former US Senator from Maryland was more fortunate than many.  With unlimited resources to attend secluded treatment centers, and close colleagues and family members urging his recovery, he had every opportunity to give up his drinking.  Instead, the drinking that began in his teens worsened over nearly four decades.

It wasn’t until Brewster admitted his illness that healing began. Quoted in an interview with Baltimore Sun journalist Robert Timberg in 1977, Brewster says: “A person must admit his powerlessness over alcohol and that his life has become unmanageable and then try to do something about it.”

Not only did Brewster take his “message” to other alcoholics, but he made time in later years to re-engage with his children.  A stepdaughter struggling with alcohol seeks Brewster’s help.  She credits him with” the start of my recovery.”

At the same time, Brewster’s son Gerry, who championed the book’s writing and publication, openly shares the difficult times he had with his famous father.

On this Father’s Day it is reassuring to learn about a father’s long battle with alcoholism that ends with recovery – prompted by a son who knew it was a story worth telling.

4 Replies to “Alcoholism, Fatherhood, and a US Senator”

  1. Beautiful. And so happy to be a part of recovery supported by ALL my family.

  2. Very nice commentary on this book. So good of you to note how important it was for former Senator Brewster to take his message to other alcoholics after his recovery.

    1. Thank you Priscilla. Yes, but it is important for someone suffering from an addiction to share the message with others.
      Without proselytizing, it is actually part of the twelve steps.
      The fact that Brewster did this speaks to how strong his sobriety was.