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Durham Commissioner Speaks Out on Personal Issues, Won't Resign

Durham County commissioner Lewis Cheek admitted Thursday he has an alcohol problem. However, he said he will not step down from office.

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DURHAM, N.C. — Durham County commissioner Lewis Cheek's private struggle with addiction became public Thursday when he explained why he's missed so many commission meetings.

Cheek, who admitted that he was a longtime alcoholic, said he was burnt out over the past year between the duties of his law firm and the Durham County commission. Cheek said he relapsed and went to a retreat for alcoholics for six weeks last spring.

Cheek said he checked himself into a hospital in September for treatment for depression and alcoholism, then he suffered another relapse in November 2007.

"I won't make any excuses for that. I'm an alcoholic. I have always tried to be honest about it and I've never tried to hide it," he said.

Cheek, who nearly ran against former Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong last year, said he will reimburse the county nearly $6,000 in salary for missing the meetings. Several key votes were postponed this year because of his absence.

In February 2007, Cheek left his law firm that he helped start four years ago.


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