Tallahassee Mayor Withdraws from Public Life to Seek Addiction Treatment

City view of Tallahassee, Florida

It’s easy to get the idea that addiction only happens to certain people. But the truth is that addiction is a severe problem that affects millions of Americans every year. Still, the way addiction is presented in the media and public discourse is not entirely accurate. Addiction is a widespread problem, yet it is given specific imagery and plenty of stereotypes.

When addiction is discussed, the concept and imagery put forth are of impoverished folks who walk the streets of bad neighborhoods looking for their next fix. And while that is certainly part of the story, it really is only part of the story. The truth is anyone, from any walk of life, can fall prey to addiction. From homeless people to business CEOs, young to old, wealthy to poor, people from all backgrounds, upbringings, income levels, and geographic areas can develop a drug or alcohol addiction.

Florida Mayor Steps Down from Public Office to Enter Treatment

An example of how addiction can affect anyone came on the national scene recently when a prominent public figure admitted to having an addiction problem. Former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum recently announced that he would withdraw from municipal office to seek treatment for alcohol abuse. It takes a great deal of courage and bravery to admit to a substance abuse problem, but Gillum has done this and now insists that he will do what is necessary to get better. Gillum had recently suffered a defeat in an electoral bid for the Florida State Governor, and he admitted that losing the Governor race had sent him into a spiral of depression and alcohol misuse.

“After conversation with my family and deep reflection, I have made the decision to seek help, guidance, and enter a rehabilitation facility at this time. This has been a wake-up call for me.”

In Gillum’s own words: “After conversation with my family and deep reflection, I have made the decision to seek help, guidance, and enter a rehabilitation facility at this time. This has been a wake-up call for me. I am committed to doing the personal work to heal fully and show up in the world as a more complete person. I now need to firmly focus on myself and my family. I will be stepping down from all public facing roles for the foreseeable future.”

Gillum apologized for his substance abuse habit and for the pain it had caused others. He admitted that his drinking had gotten out of control, and he promised to seek professional help. In a way, congratulations are in order for Gillum, not just for the fact that he agreed to seek treatment and get better, but that he was willing to admit his drinking problem to a national audience. That takes courage. In doing so, Gillum is setting an excellent example for what all addicts who hide their habits should do—admit to having a substance problem and agree to seek help.

The Importance of Getting Help

What Andrew Gillum realized and what every addict must realize is that addiction is a dangerous condition characterized by repeated, compulsive seeking of drugs and alcohol despite adverse social, mental, and physical consequences. The key here is that addicts feel a compulsive need to continue seeking substances despite adverse, even seriously dangerous effects.

Addiction is a crisis of both the mind and the body. The mind is affected terribly in that one develops a strong, psychological need for the substance, for the way it makes them feel. Such a compelling need causes the individual to take considerable risks both in getting the substance and in using the substance.

Addiction is also a crisis of the body. Merely the use of drugs and alcohol has a physiologically damaging effect on the individual. The effect is cumulative. The more one uses, and the longer one uses for, the more damage they subject their body to. And the more one uses, the more their body develops a dependence on their substance of choice. The body needs the substance, and that simply adds to the difficulties and health risks attendant with drug use.

Addicts cannot stop using substances on their own because of the driving, compelling nature of their addictions. Furthermore, their very use of the substances they are addicted to results in accidents, injuries, overdoses, crimes, ruined relationships, lost opportunities, financial struggles, serious health problems, etc.

These two factors, (the fact that addiction is compulsive and the fact that addiction is harmful), are why addicts must get help as soon as possible. If they don’t, it could mean the loss of their lives, the lives of people they care about, or the lives of innocent bystanders (as in the case of drunk driving, for example).

Tens of thousands of drug users and alcohol addicts die from their habits every year, just in the United States alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 67,367 people died from drug overdoses in 2018. That means every day in 2018 about 184 people died from a drug overdose, and that does not include drunk driving fatalities, fatal health complications as a result of substance abuse, drug-related homicide, fatal workplace injuries, etc. That figure of 67,367 deaths in 2018 represents fatal overdoses alone.

What to Do if Your Loved One is Struggling with a Drug Problem

Drug addict help

There’s no doubt that addiction can affect anyone from any walk of life. But no matter who is affected, one thing all addicts share is the danger that is inherent in their dependence on substances. That’s why all addicts must seek help as soon as possible.

If you know someone who is struggling with an addiction to drugs and alcohol, you must do your best to help them. Addiction is a life or death issue. Seeking treatment for a drug problem is not something to put off.

But how does an addict get help? A practical and effective method of treatment lies in a course through a residential drug rehab program. Residential drug rehabs offer comprehensive services that help people give up drugs and alcohol for good.

At Narconon, addiction is not seen as an incurable disease or an affliction that people will have for life. People who are struggling with drug and alcohol problems can take their lives back and become whole again. If you have a son or daughter, parent, sibling, spouse, or loved one who is struggling with a drug habit, please contact Narconon today.


Reviewed by Claire Pinelli, ICAADC, CCS, LADC, RAS, MCAP



After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.