Addiction and recovery – The inside story with Kim Hume

■ BY SUE ERWIN.    

On any given Monday or Tuesday in Boca Grande, you probably won’t see Kim and Brit Hume at a cocktail party. That’s because while you may be having a cocktail or watching the news on television, Brit Hume is appearing on TV, on Fox News, live from Boca Grande. Kim is the technician, camera and audio operator making the live television feed possible.

The collaboration between the Humes has been ongoing since 1982, when both worked for ABC News, Kim as a producer for Good Morning America and Brit as the senate correspondent.

The couple went on to work together for 25 years at ABC and Fox News, getting married in 1993. Kim retired as Fox News Washington bureau chief in 2007. Brit retired as anchor of Special Report in 2009 but now appears 100 days a year on Fox News as the network’s senior political analyst.

While they both have enjoyed successful careers, Kim suffered from addiction in her teens and twenties.

“I am lucky to be alive,” she said. “During my darkest hours, I was certain I would end up on the streets as an abject failure, or dead, or likely both in that order.”

Kim will tell her harrowing tale of alcoholism and redemption as part of the Friends of Boca Grande Community Center program “Lessons Learned from Living” at 2 p.m. on March 16 in the sanctuary at St. Andrews Episcopal Church, 380 Gilchrist Avenue.

“I started drinking way before I was under any sort of stress. I was a teenage alcoholic. The first time I ever had a drink I was in trouble,” Hume said.

She has been sober now for more than 30 years, but she admits it’s still a daily struggle.

“That’s why it’s referred to as recovering. There isn’t a fix for it, It’s a progressive disease and a constant challenge.”

Hume said the major symptom of alcoholism is denial and not being able to admit there is a problem.

“You want to be in control and handle it on your own, but it’s a chemical addiction. It’s very demoralizing, and it makes you feel hopeless,” she said.

Describing herself at the time as a functioning alcoholic, Hume ended up winning an Emmy award for her coverage of the Gulf War during her darkest days.

“And what was ironic about that was, I totally messed up the story that won,” she said. “It was ill-conceived and horribly executed. I was disintegrating, so I rushed to the editing room and pushed myself to make something good out of it despite my mistakes … and that piece earned an award.”

Kim’s sister battled another addiction with overeating. Many years earlier she had given Kim a copy of “The Big Book” about addiction that she got at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting. It was filled with stories by men and women struggling with the hopelessness of alcoholism.

Kim said it didn’t even occur to her at the time that she was an alcoholic, but she kept the book, and years later it was there for her when she needed it most. It eventually led to her AA meetings.

The island talk was originally scheduled to be held in the Houghton Room at the Community Center, but more than 80 people have already expressed interest, which is more than the room could hold. Mother Michelle Robertshaw at St. Andrews, graciously agreed to provide the church as a new venue so that more people could attend.

The talk is free, but you do need to call the Friends of Boca Grande Community Center at 964-0827 for a reservation.

Hume, who typically keeps a low profile and always worked behind the scenes in her television career, now gives talks on addiction and surviving with an addictive personality in sobriety.

“It is an amazing thing to be saved from active addiction and to have a new chance at life,” she said. “It allows you to try to make up for all the pain you caused yourself and others, and it carries an obligation to help others who suffer.”

As a function of her recovery, Kim experienced a spiritual renewal and later a passion for studying the Holy Bible. She has a Bible-based blog called Vine and Branch (kimhume.blogspot.com), where she gives her simple and often practical insights on daily Bible readings as she reads the Bible from cover to cover over the course of each year.

“Addiction is a killer, and many families struggle with it in some form or another. This talk is for all of us, those who have suffered or are still struggling, friends or family members trying to cope, and for those who just want answers and insights,” Hume said. “It is also for anyone interested in the story of a woman who has so far survived her addiction, made a success of her life and is humbly willing to share her journey with you.”