The PJ Tatler

R.I.P. Betty Ford

Former First Lady and pioneer in the addiction-recovery movement Betty Ford has just died at the age of 93.

Betty Ford ranks among the greatest of all first ladies not because of what she did during her brief (1974-77) tenure in the White House, but rather for being amazingly brave in her attitude toward life after she became a private citizen once again.

First, when she got a breast cancer diagnosis while still in office, she went public with it to raise breast cancer awareness at a time when there was still a taboo about it in polite society. Betty Ford tore that taboo aside and started the breast-cancer awareness movement which still brings hope to millions of women to this day.

But even more significantly, she later publicly discussed her descent into alcoholism and her inspirational recovery, and became essentially the patron saint of the recovery movement, and the founder of the iconic Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, which is the model for addiction recovery centers around the world.

This focus on personal recovery from addiction (and on dealing with the societal ripples of addiction) is one of the most significant new social movements of the last 30 years. And to a large extent we can thank Betty Ford for that.

May she rest in peace forever.