Betty Ford Born In Chicago 100 Years Ago Sunday

Andy Dahn
April 08, 2018 - 1:00 pm
Betty Ford

Courtesy Gerald R. Ford Library

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Former First Lady Betty Ford was born in Chicago 100 years ago Sunday, and her work towards treating drug and alcohol addiction lives on, and may be more important than ever.

Ramsen Kasha is Executive Director of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation's Eastern Region.

"That's a great honor to know that our city has been connected to this person who has been such a huge proponent of recovery for so many years."

Kasha said Ford's transparency about her struggles with alcohol and painkillers helped change the narrative.

"This is a disease that lives in shame and secrecy," Kasha said. "At a time hen that was rampant, here comes arguably the most powerful woman in the country at the time, talking very openly and honestly about her own struggles with that disease."

The Betty Ford Center was established in 1982. Kasha said addiction has changed since then, highlighted by the current opioid crisis, but he said treatment has also changed.

"During the last presidential campaign, pretty much every single person running identified that dealing with the opioid crisis was a top part of their pitch," he said. "It's really changed quite a bit. It's more focused on the concept that this is a disease."