Jeb Bush talks of his daughter Noelle’s battle with drugs as he unveils programme for reducing addiction

Former Florida Governor and Republican presidential hopeful offers rare glimpse of his personal life

David Usborne
US Editor
Wednesday 06 January 2016 21:19
Jeb Bush pauses while speaking about his daughter at the New Hampshire forum on drug addiction
Jeb Bush pauses while speaking about his daughter at the New Hampshire forum on drug addiction

Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush has described his struggles as a father watching his daughter, Noelle, battle drug addiction while in her early twenties.

“What I learnt was that the pain that you feel when you have a loved one who has addiction challenges and kind of spirals out of control is something that is shared with a whole lot of people,” the former Florida Governor told a forum on heroin addiction in New Hampshire on Tuesday, offering a rare glimpse of his personal life.

He said he had asked Noelle’s permission before speaking publicly about it. She is now 38 and in recovery.

Some party insiders thought Mr Bush would decline to run for the presidency because of his daughter’s drug abuse, which mostly happened while he was Governor and his brother, George W Bush, was President. When she was 24 Noelle was caught with a fraudulent prescription for Xanax. Later, she was found with crack cocaine and jailed.

A police photograph of Noelle Bush after her arrest in 2002

Mr Bush showed empathy with victims as he unveiled a programme for reducing addiction in the US. New Hampshire, which holds its presidential primaries early next month, saw 295 opioid-related deaths last year.

“As a father, I have felt the heartbreak of drug abuse. My daughter Noelle suffered from addiction, and like many parents facing similar situations, her mom and I struggled to help,” Mr Bush said in a blog on the website Medium.

“I never expected to see my precious daughter in jail. It wasn’t easy, and it became very public when I was Governor of Florida, making things even more difficult for Noelle. She went through hell, so did her mum and so did I.”

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