Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio’s 19-year-old daughter, Chiara de Blasio, released a video today acknowledging her struggle with long-rumored substance abuse problems.
In the video, which was sent via email, Chiara talks about her battle with clinical depression, which she said spurred a reliance on drugs and alcohol.
“It made it easier, like the more I drank and did drugs, to share some common ground with people I wouldn’t have,” she says in the video, released on Christmas Eve day. “It became a really huge thing for me.”
When she went away to college in California, she said she thought things would get better. Instead, they got worse. “My mom was trying really hard to help me. … And my dad was doing the same, but obviously he was really busy. But you know, they were both very emotionally committed to trying to find some way to get me better,” she tells the camera.
Eventually, she said, she enrolled in an outpatient treatment center in the city, which she implied had helped her get clean.
“Removing substances from my life, it’s opened so many doors to me,” she said, noting her work on her father’s winning mayoral campaign. Still, she cautioned, “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”
“I wanted to speak out, because people are suffering from this disease and dying from this disease every day, and we really can’t do anything as a society to help those people until we start talking about it,” she said.
In the email, which was signed by Mr. de Blasio and his wife, Chirlane, the parents said they were hesitant about their daughter making her struggles public but commended her for wanting to speak out.
“For many, the holiday season is a time for joy. But it’s also a time when some of those battling depression and substance abuse find their struggle most difficult. With the hope of helping others, our daughter, Chiara, is courageously sharing her story,” they wrote.
“As parents, our instinct has been to protect our daughter and privately help her through a deeply personal struggle. But not only has Chiara committed to her own health, she is also committed to helping young people everywhere who face similar challenges. Her courage to speak out demonstrates a wisdom and maturity far beyond her 19 years, and we are grateful every day for her commitment to lifting up those who need to know that they are not alone.”
It was not immediately clear why the decision to go public was made now, just a week before Mr. de Blasio’s inauguration. Chiara’s rumored substance abuse problems had been the source of a great deal of speculation during the campaign but were never reported by the press.