Alcoholic Politicians From Around the World (Any Surprises?)

There are, and have been, many alcoholic politicians. Today, some have reported themselves to be alcoholic and have sought treatment. For alcoholic politicians of the past, it’s harder. Therefore, historians base their judgements on accounts of those who knew the politicians and their actions.

           Overview

I.   U.S. Presidents

II.  Members of U.S. Congress

III. Other Political Leaders

IV.  Resources

However, it’s safe to assume that there are many politicians who are alcoholic who are not on this list.

Alcoholism cuts across societies. It’s among different genders, races, economic levels, religions, occupations, etc.

The Kennedy family is the only one to have had an alcoholic member in both the U.S. Senate and House.

I. U.S. Presidents

Martin van Buren, 8th president. Friends called him “Blue Whiskey Van.” 

Franklin Pierce, 14th. Died from cirrhosis of the liver

James Buchanan, 15th

Ulysses S. Grant, 18th 

alcoholic politicians
Lyndon Johnson

Chester A. Arthur, 21st

Franklin Roosevelt, 32nd

Lyndon Johnson, 36th

Richard Nixon, 37th

II. Members of U.S. Congress

Senate

Ted Kennedy

Harold Hughes (D-IA) Worked largely on legislation about drug and alcohol abuse.

Ted Kennedy (D-MA)

Joseph McCarthy (R-WI) 

Bob Packwood (R-OR)

Herman Talmadge (D-GA)

John Tower (R-TX)

House of Representatives

John Boehner

Robert Bauman (R-MD)

 Phil Crane (R-IL)

John Boehner, Speaker of the House (R-OH)

Mark Foley (R-FL)

Thomas Garrett (R-VA)

Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL)

alcoholic musicians
Jesse Jackson, Jr.

Patrick Kennedy (D-RI)

Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ)

Karen McCarthy D-MO)

Wilbur Mills (D-AR)

Bob Ney (R-Ohio)

Tip O’Neil (Thomas Phillip O’Neill Jr. ), Speaker of the House (D-MA)

Trey Radel (R-FL)

Jim Ramstad (R-MN)

Zach Wamp (R-TN)

Charlie Wilson (D-TX)

III. Other Alcoholic Politicians and Leaders

Alexander the Great, king of Macedonia.

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder and first president of Turkey. Died from cirrhosis of the liver caused by alcohol abuse.  

Béla I, King of Hungary and Croatia.  

Winston Churchill

Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

Václav Havel, a president of the Czech Republic.

Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission.

Charles Kennedy, leader of the British Liberal Democrats.

Reginald Maudling, held several British Cabinet posts.

Pōmare II, the second king of Tahiti.

Pōmare V, the last king of Tahiti.

alcoholic politicians
Boris Yeltsin

Texas Governor Ann Richards (D-TX)

Selim II, sultan of the Ottoman Empire. Known as “Selim the Drunkard.”

Ranjit Singh, first leader of the Sikh Empire.

Josef Stalin, dictator of the Soviet Union

Emperor Tiberius of the Roman Empire.

Prince Vladimir of Kiev, Russia.

Daniel Webster, U.S. Secretary of State.

Boris Yeltsin, first president of Russia.

IV. Resources: Alcoholic Politicians

Web Pages

What is Alcoholism?

Treatments for Alcoholism.

How to Help Someone Who Drinks Too Much.

Books

Eskapa, R., et al. The Cure for Alcoholism [the Sinclair method]. Dallas: Benbella, 2012.

Wright, B. Order, Order! The Rise and Fall of Political Drinking. London: Duckworth, 2017.

Wright, B. Pints of Order: Alcohol & the Political Process. London: Biteback, 2011.

Hirsh, C. Politics, Death & Addiction. Melbourne: Brolga, 2013.

Lawford, C. Symptoms of Withdrawal. NY: Harper, 2005.  (By son of Peter Lawford.)

Notes

Know of any alcoholic politicians who should be on this list? If so, contact hansondj[at sign]potsdam[period]edu/. Thanks for your help!

This list of alcoholic politicians is based on sources that appear to be reliable. However, there is no guarantee of its accuracy.