U.S. Drug Czar: Treatment Saved My Life


The nation’s drug czar, Michael Botticelli, 56, is an alcoholic who has been sober for a quarter-century, according to a Washington Post profile. He quit drinking after a series of events, including waking up handcuffed to a hospital bed after a drunken-driving accident and a financial collapse that left him facing eviction. He now is the face of the Obama administration's drug policy, largely predicated on shifting people with addiction into treatment and away from the criminal justice system.

Botticelli's story is the embodiment of the policy — a view that he credits with saving his life. He became the acting director of drug-control policy in March, about a year and a half after he came to Washington to be then-czar Gil Kerlikowske's deputy. The White House has not formally nominated him to take over the job permanently. It is a position that has been held by law enforcement officials, a military general and physicians. But for now, it is occupied by a recovering alcoholic.

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