A Politician Who Tried to Keep Her Rehab Stint a Secret
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A Politician Who Tried to Keep Her Rehab Stint a Secret


HAWK FINALDallas County District Attorney Susan Hawk is being watched like a hawk. Or so it seems now that she’s receiving post-election flack for her failure to fully disclose a stint in rehab for painkiller addiction.

Um, really? In this age of closeted gay senators being busted soliciting sex on Grindr and gross amounts of corruption in campaign finance, is a painkiller addiction that’s in the past really such a concern?

Why It Should, And Shouldn’t, Matter

Surely Hawk’s team feared that the words “drugs” and “rehab” would immediately evoke the image of this competent and capable candidate moonlighting as a junkie on the streets. Otherwise, I don’t see how people could fault someone for identifying a problem and medically addressing it. It’s an extremely relatable issue. People who haven’t struggled with substance abuse often know at least one person who’s suffering from or has suffered from addiction, and increasingly, that drug of choice is prescription painkillers.

We also don’t really know the extent of the issue, as any sort of addiction or addiction diagnosis can be wholly unique to the individual. It’s highly possible that Hawk had never experienced additive tendencies prior to this incident and therefore did not feel it necessary to tout herself as someone “in recovery.” It’s certainly not uncommon for chronic pain sufferers or post-surgical patients to become reliant on prescription medication when they’d never touched a recreational drug or habitually abused alcohol.

Also, it’s not like her behavior while under the influence of these painkillers was put on display in a public, disgraceful manner. Seeing multiple examples of a politician in the act of drugging or hearing a recorded transcript of that person in less-than-admirable situations should administer a much more powerful blow (so to speak) to their image than a simple “I had a [insert problem]and needed to take care of it with [insert solution]” type of statement. Thanks to our beloved Internet and social media, the days of mystery or keeping past issues a secret are long gone for every citizen, not just for politicians. The “Gotcha!” game is alive and well in the United States of America.

What’s Done Is Done

So would Hawk have been elected if she’d spilled the beans—or pills—about her rehab visit? Maybe not. It’s true, she could have put together a thoroughly charming video like the British potential mayoral candidate Ian Massow did. In the entrepreneur’s animated vid, he confesses not only to being gay and an ex-alcoholic but also to being dyslexic, adopted, an activist, a businessman, a disrupter and a doer. That being said, when openly gay Democratic Christine Quinn, who was open about her bulimia and alcoholism, ran for mayor of New York City in 2013, she received a total of 15.5% of the votes.

In short, the jury on where the American public stands on their judgment about addiction and alcoholism remains to be seen. But hopefully public knowledge of Hawk’s situation now that she’s in office, and presumably getting the job done drama-free as per her campaign promise, can continue to help the cause of removing the stigma associated with addiction.

Photo courtesy of HawkforDA

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About Author

Mary Patterson Broome has written for After Party Magazine, Women's Health Magazine Online, AOL, WE TV and Mashed. She has been performing stand-up comedy at clubs, colleges, casinos, and festivals for over a decade.