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Queens councilman reveals COVID-19 pandemic led to struggles with alcohol

Councilman Eric Ulrich goes public with his drinking problem that he says was made worse during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Courtesy of Ulrich's office)

A Queens councilman opened up about his struggles with alcohol in a very public forum.

Councilman Eric Ulrich took to social media on Friday, April 16, citing the coronavirus for exacerbating his battle with booze.

“The COVID pandemic has affected people in different ways,” Ulrich wrote on in a Facebook post. “I regret to say that I developed a drinking problem. What used to be mainly a social activity, and a way to cope with stress, has now become too frequent and self-destructive.”

Ulrich represents District 32 which encompasses the south Queens neighborhoods of Belle Harbor, Breezy Point, Broad Channel, Howard Beach, Lindenwood, Neponsit, Ozone Park, Richmond Hill, Rockaway Park, Roxbury, South Ozone Park, West Hamilton Beach and Woodhaven. Ulrich was born at Jamaica Hospital and raised in Ozone Park.

“After talking about this with my family and friends, I have decided to finally quit and get sober,” Ulrich wrote. “I am not embarrassed or ashamed in any way to admit that I abused alcohol for far too long. I am ready to move on with my life so that I can be a better father, friend and public servant. I know this will not be easy for me and ask for your prayers and support. Thank you.”

A spokesperson for Ulrich’s office told QNS on Monday, April 19, that the councilman had no further comment at this time.

Meanwhile, his colleagues in government came to his support on social media over the weekend.

“My brother I’m so proud of you,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards wrote on Twitter. “Keep your head up!!! You know if you need anything I’m here for you!!!!!”

Congresswoman Grace Meng tweeted that she was “Praying for strength and healing.”

Councilman Barry Grodenchik added his support.

“My very best wishes as you go forward with this new chapter of your life,” Grodenchik posted on Twitter. “I will be praying for you.”

Ulrich will be term-limited out of office at the end of the year.

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