I am certain I would be dead if I had not stopped drinking, said Laurie Dhue, keynote speaker at the Drug Education Council s 18th annual luncheon on Monday, April 7, at the Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza Hotel.
Dhue, a former news anchor for CNN and FOX news, now works for , Glenn Beck s online network, where she is the nightly news anchor and host of For the Record. She has been in recovery for seven years.
I do count every single day of my recovery, she said. It means the world to me.
She has a remarkable story, said Virginia Guy, executive director of the Drug Education Council. There are not many of us who don t have friends or family who are affected by this disease.
Dhue wowed the crowd of 700 at the luncheon with her no-holds-barred testimonial, in which she described what her life was like as a highly visible, successful television personality with a secret: an unacknowledged drinking problem.
She never went on the air while intoxicated, she said, but many times arrived at her office while still suffering the effects of a hangover from the night before.
She described those 18 years as a double life, a secret life a life of shame and embarrassment.
Today, she said, I have woken up without a hangover every day for the last seven years; it s a great feeling.
Dhue shares her story often at seminars around the country, she said, with the hope that it will help others and encourage more discussion of addiction and its consequences. She began her own recovery by consulting an addiction specialist, and still regularly attends a 12-step program.
There isn t any one way to recovery, she said. You just take it a day at a time. I just say that today, I m choosing to stay sober.
Alcoholism affects women differently than men, Dhue said, and many women with children are less apt to seek help, for fear they ll be viewed as unfit mothers. In addition, she said, doctors tend to over-prescribe relaxers and similar drugs to such patients, which often lead to a different form of addiction.
I have made it my main reason in life to educate people about this disease, she said. I would argue that addiction is the biggest health care issue we have now.
Dhue also reminded the audience of the late Betty Ford's description of a typical addict: It s not a flaw in character; it s a flaw in chemistry.
The Drug Education Council s luncheon is the biggest annual fundraiser for the organization, which focuses on substance abuse prevention and intervention. The 2013 event raised more than 0,000.
The agency offers free drug testing and counseling for teenagers and their families and sponsors many community programs, including outreach in Mobile and Baldwin schools.
Awards were presented to Eileene McRae, who received the Marian Cranford Award; Mimi Hudson, who received the Watson Guy Award; and Ralph A. Hargrove, president and CEO of Hargrove Engineers + Constructors, recipient of the Joseph Treadwell Award for his company s numerous wellness programs and community involvement.
Addiction affects everyone at some level, Hargrove said as he accepted the award. We re all in this together.
A federal report claims that allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior were determined to be unfounded, when prisoners failed or refused to submit to lie-detector tests.