Betty Ford, one of the most outspoken and beloved First Ladies of the United States, passed away on July 8, 2011. During the time Gerard Ford served as the 38th President from 1974 to 1977, Betty Ford gained a reputation as a champion of women’s rights, Equal Rights Amendment, abortions rights, various charities, and other issues. In 1982, she founded the Betty Ford Center with Leonard Firestone when drug rehab facilities and alcohol abuse recovery programs were scarce and largely shunned by the society.
After her stint as First Lady, Betty Ford was becoming increasingly dependent on alcohol and prescription drugs for pain relief. In Ford’s 1987 memoir, she recounted how alcohol made her feel warm and how pills helped to relieve her tension and pain. Sometime in the late 1970s, the effects of her addictions were being manifested in public, and something needed to be done. The former First Family organized an intervention where they confronted her about how their relationships were being fractured by the addictions. Despite the fiery exchanges, Betty Ford was placed on a detoxification program. Later, she checked in at the Long Beach Naval Hospital to undergo the alcohol and drug rehab program.
In those days, there was a still negative stigma about addiction and recovery programs. After the successful rehab, Betty Ford came out to honestly talk about her addictions and consequent treatment. It helped to soften the negative social perception of addiction and addiction recovery. The Betty Ford Center was founded with the purpose of helping women deal with the basis of their alcohol and drug addictions. Since its opening, the center has treated over 90,000 patients. Some of the biggest celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Robert Downey Jr., Robert Mitchum, and Tony Curtis were treated at the Betty Ford Center.
As we bid farewell to this extraordinary First Lady, we are grateful that her great legacy continues. If you have been pondering about checking into a live-in drug rehab or an in-patient alcohol rehab, take courage and move forward. As Betty Ford used to say, “You never know what you can do until you have to do it.”