Top 10 US Presidents with Drinking Problems

Many US Presidents have/had a colorful past. Many of the Top 10 presidents on the list are/were alcoholics and take/took pride in their drinking habits. This article identifies them and who they are/were.


1. Barack Obama:

A 2010 news report surfaced surrounding Barack Obama’s drinking problem. The Daily Mail reported that the doctor recommended the President stop drinking excessively and stop smoking. This recommendation came after Obama’s cholesterol levels were up to borderline high.


2. George W. Bush:

Bush was no saint in the 1960s and 70s. Bush even admitted to substance abuse under the age of 40. He described this period as nomadic and irresponsible youth. This all occurred before he made a religious conversion and was enlightened by Billy Graham.


3. Richard Nixon:

During the Watergate Scandal, which erupted in 1974, Nixon was drinking more than he ever did before. He became even more depressed as he put himself and his family through humiliation over his resignations. Many people would not hear from Nixon for years after his resignation due to shame. The drinking problem was discovered in Nixon’s biography, written by Stephen Ambrose.


4. Martin van Buren:

This Democratic President had a reputation for being a drunk by age 25. He could even drink large quantities without showing signs of intoxication. The behaviour was exhibited well into his Vice –Presidency.


5. Ulysses Grant:

This US President also had a drinking problem. The problem was more than apparent during his military service. However, the heavy drinking was said to have not affected his ability to perform duties. The cause of death (throat cancer) was probably related to alcohol consumption.


6. Franklin Pierce:

This president was a drunk because of traumatic stress. Before he was sworn in as president, he and his wife were in a train accident. His only son was nearly decapitated right in front of him. After the incident Pierce became depressed and turned to drinking. He saw the accident as punishment for his sins.


7. James Buchanan:

He was the President who was celebrated for his drinking problem. He regularly complained that the size of his champagne bottle was too small. Additionally, he was known to drink 2 to 3 bottles of cognac and dry rye a week.


8. Franklin D. Roosevelt:


FDR had a hard presidency. He had to cope with the Great Depression, the rise of Hitler, battle with polio, and a raging war. He was also a drinker and according to his grandson was the worst martini maker ever.


9. William Taft:

There are no sources that claim he was drinking during presidency. In fact, many of his associates stated he abstained from drinking. Yet during his frat years, Taft was a heavy drinker. He would often make sure that all his frats friends were getting drunk.


10. John Adams:

He was also an alcoholic that should be mentioned of on this list. In fact he would have hard cider with his breakfast daily. Breakfast with booze…hmmm.


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8 Responses

  1. Eric Garris

    What about Andrew Johnson? He showed up to his swearing-in drunk.

  2. sterling

    hard cider and beer were safter than drinking the water at that time.

  3. Mongo

    According to his biographers, George Washington kept a gallon jug of whiskey close to hand for whenever he felt thirsty, which was often. Washington also owned a distillery.

  4. gruhn

    It feels like this list was cobbled together by one of those do-gooders who think any form of alcohol consumption is “alcoholism”.

  5. Horst Muhlmann

    Obama’s drinking problem resembles Robert Hays’ “drinking problem” in the movie “Airplane”.

  6. Glenda Strong


  7. Sacha Metzger

    Of course there were US Presidents that were heavy drinkers. Especially back in the early years of the United States. Most people were back in those days. As was mentioned earlier, drinking mildly alcoholic beverages was safer that most water then. Most people drank either wine, hard cider or small beer, which was beer mixed with water. This killed most of the pathogens in the water, and actually lowered the alcohol content to around 1% to 2%. Parents also served this to their children, going back to ancient times to prevent water-borne sicknesses. But people drank phenomenal amounts in the 18th and 19th centuries. This led to a ban or severe tax on rum in Great Britain (which led to the switch to gin instead) and eventually the Temperance Movement in the US. (And we all know where that led to.[Prohibition!]) It was thought that Grant was a heavy drinker as was noted, but this didn’t hurt his command ability in battle, and led to Lincoln stating “If it’s drink that makes fighting men like Grant, then find out what he drinks, and send my other commanders a case!” Later historians believe that it was actually severe migraines that he suffered from, and he actually drank very little. But, that point that everyone seems to miss is not whether or not someone drinks or not, but whether he or she can do the job for which he or she is assigned. If I had someone who worked for me that drank like a fish off the job, but did everything required of them at work, and perhaps even tried strive for even a little bit more, then after work I’d be the first one to buy them the first round. But if their performance suffered for it, then I’d also be the first one to call them on the carpet for it. I think this should be the case for anyone in any position, whether they’re a rubbish collector, or national leader.


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