NYC first daughter confesses to drug, alcohol abuse

Democratic mayor-elect of New York, Bill de Blasio, hugs his daughter Chiara and son Dante during his election victory party at the Park Slope Armory in New York, Nov 5, 2013. Chiara De Blasio released a video Dec 24, 2013 in which she discusses her
Democratic mayor-elect of New York, Bill de Blasio, hugs his daughter Chiara and son Dante during his election victory party at the Park Slope Armory in New York, Nov 5, 2013. Chiara De Blasio released a video Dec 24, 2013 in which she discusses her battle with depression and substance abuse while directing viewers to a website where they can get help. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - The teenage daughter of New York's incoming mayor confessed on Christmas Eve to smoking pot and underage drinking in a video aimed at helping others battling depression.

Nineteen-year-old Chiara de Blasio features alone in the nearly five-minute video, announcing that she suffers from clinical depression, had smoked weed and drank alcohol.

The professionally produced, slick video was posted on YouTube and emailed to reporters by her father, Mr Bill de Blasio, who takes office as New York mayor on January 1, and mother Chirlane.

It was the latest in a string of tightly-controlled media appearances for Chiara, who with her 16-year-old brother Dante featured prominently in their father's recent election campaign.

"I've had depression, like clinical depression for my entire adolescence," she said, looking healthy and assured.

"It made it easier, like the more I drank and did drugs, to share some common ground with people that I wouldn't have.

"It didn't start out as a huge thing for me, but then it became a huge thing for me," she added, to an accompanying soundtrack of soft piano music.

She credited her therapist for referring her to an out-patient therapy centre in New York City, and her mother and busy father with being committed to getting her better.

"Getting sober is always a positive thing and it's not easy. By no means is it easy. It's the hardest thing I've ever done but it's so worth it," she said.

She said beating drugs and alcohol enabled her to participate in her father's campaign, calling it "like the greatest thing ever," to do well in school and explore things other than partying.

She called on viewers to acknowledge alcoholism and drug addiction as a disease.

"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.

White House drug policy advisor Gil Kerlikowske echoed that message as he praised Mr de Blasio's "tremendous bravery" in making the video.

"By talking about addiction in the light of day - and by celebrating recovery out loud - we can help correct the misinformation and stigma that too often become obstacles for the millions of Americans who deserve to live healthy, productive lives," he said.

He emphasised that research shows substance abuse disorders are diseases that can be "prevented, treated, and recovered from - not a moral failing." According to the video, 28 per cent of Americans drink at levels that put them at risk of alcohol dependence.

"If you think you have a problem, don't wait. Ask for help," it ended with a written message and the website address for ok2talk.org, which helps young adults who suffer from mental illness.

The video is available at https: www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJKmjx1JjwI&feature=youtu.be.