Cruz on Sister's Struggle: You Can't Make An Addict Change If They're Unwilling To Get Treatment


Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz shares a personal story about his late sister's struggle with drug addiction on CNN's The Lead with host Jake Tapper. Cruz recounts a story where he and his father once had to go to a crack house to find his sister and tried to talk her into seeking treatment.

A riveting speech delivered by GOP candidate Gov. Chris Christie on drug addiction at a town hall last month has ignited a discussion of substance abuse and U.S. drug policy on the campaign trail.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): It's a horrible disease. And I've seen it firsthand. I mean, my sister was nine years older than I am, I grew up with her, she was my half sister from my dad's first marriage. Her parents got divorced when she was a little girl. And Miriam was always very angry about it. And it consumed her. And she was smart. She was beautiful. And yet her whole life she lived basically as an angry teenager. She was sort of frozen emotionally in a state of rebellion.

And she made decision after decision that was the wrong decision. And she struggled her whole life with drug and alcohol addiction. She was in and out of prison for petty crimes. I mean, for shoplifting, for little things. But she kept associating with people who were really bad actors.

And, you know, when I was in my mid-20s things got really bad for Miriam. She was actually living in a crack house. So my dad flew up to see me and the two of us we left our rings and our watches and our wallets and everything because we're driving to a crack house to try to get my sister out. And we didn't know if we'd be robbed or shot or what we were going to experience. And we pulled her out.

We went to a Denny's and spent about four hours trying to talk to her saying what are you doing. And she was angry. She wouldn't change. And you can't -- with an addict you can't make them change if they're unwilling to get treatment, if they're unwilling to walk a different path. And, you know, Miriam had a son, my nephew going into seventh grade at the time. We're saying, look, Joey needs you.

She wasn't able to provide for him so I had just gotten out of law school. I ended up putting a $20,000 cash advance on my credit card and paying to put Joey in a military school, Valley Forge Military Academy. And I think that year made a real difference in his life providing some structure and some order. And then by the end of the year she had improved somewhat and was able to care for her son again. But then as you noted she a few years ago overdosed one night. Joey came to the apartment and found her dead.

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