Stigma and Survival in the Shining City

Alex Greenwood
7 min readNov 2, 2023

Hunter Biden Speaks to the Silent Struggle That Killed My Friend

Two weeks ago, I lost a dear friend, Robert, to addiction. His battle mirrors many stories of addiction, including a very public one: Hunter Biden’s.

Image designed by the author with assistance from AI. Author assumes rights and provenance.

Let me be clear: I hold no brief for Hunter Biden. He is a troubled, controversial figure in a family that I see as genuinely good people. And I’m not here to argue about politics, mostly because Hunter Biden is not a politician. He is an addict.

And he just said a couple of things that brought me back to the friend I just lost:

“I am not a victim. By any standard, I grew up with privilege and opportunity, and fully accept that the choices and mistakes I made are mine, and I am accountable for them and will continue to be. That is what recovery is about.

What troubles me is the demonization of addiction, of human frailty, using me as its avatar and the devastating consequences it has for the millions struggling with addiction, desperate for a way out and being bombarded by the denigrating and near-constant coverage of me and my addiction on Fox News (more airtime than GOP presidential candidate Ron DeSantis) and in The New York Post (an average of two stories a day over the past year).”

Biden, a son of privilege who had his share of grief and loss, nearly killed himself with drugs and alcohol. My friend Robert just lost a similar battle.

Let me tell you about him.

First and foremost, Robert, as my editor, would insist that I mention his brilliance. He attended Oberlin and subsequently worked for Microsoft. He had numerous friends who admired his intelligence, kindness, and wit. His usual plea for me to note his devilish good looks further underscores this point. By any measure, Robert was successful.

Until he wasn’t.

In high school, we had some adventures in drama club and on the debate team. His acerbic wit made up for his utter lack of acting ability all the same — making him a pal. We put together an underground newspaper, which bought us a week in detention and dare I say the silent respect of much of the faculty. I viewed myself as a clever young man, but Robert was legitimately smart, as in high I.Q. Like me, he…



Alex Greenwood

PR Consultant, Speaker, Podcast Producer/Host, Editor, and Award-Winning Writer of the John Pilate Mystery Series. Accomplished belly laugher.