Bush: 'I Doubt I'd Be Standing Here If I Hadn't Quit Drinking Whiskey'

President Bush opens up about past alcohol addiction during exclusive interview.

ByABC News
December 11, 2007, 7:22 PM

Dec. 11, 2007 — -- In an exclusive interview with ABC News, President Bush spoke more candidly than ever before about his past alcohol addiction.

"I doubt I'd be standing here if I hadn't quit drinking whiskey, and beer and wine and all that," the president disclosed Tuesday to ABC News' Martha Raddatz during an exclusive tour of the White House residence.

The president told ABC News he quit drinking over 20 years ago -- cold turkey.

"I had too much to drink one night, and the next day I didn't have any," Bush said. "The next day I decided to quit and I haven't had a drink since 1986."

"And you did it just cold turkey?" asked Raddatz.

"I'm a better man for it," Bush said.

The president said his alcohol problem wasn't severe, but said he still had a hard time quitting.

"I wasn't a knee-walking drunk," Bush said. "It's a difficult thing to do, which is to kick an addiction."

Earlier in the day after briefing the media on a report on teen drug abuse, Bush told a teenage girl who had struggled with drug addiction that he too had kicked an addiction.

"Your president made the same kind of choice," he told her. "I had to quit drinking. … Addiction competes for your affection … You fall in love with alcohol."

Later, Bush told ABC News he opened up to the girl about his alcohol abuse, because he was touched by her story.

"I was trying to encourage her to stay strong," Bush said. "I wanted her, this young girl who's struggling with drug addiction, to know that others who might be famous have the same issue, that she's not alone."

Bush said in his case, he made the decision to quit when he realized drinking was interfering with his family.

"Alcohol can compete with your affections. It sure did in my case," Bush said, "affections with your family, or affections for exercise."

"It was the competition that I decided just wasn't worth it," he said.