After a four-week course of addiction treatment, Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy returned to Congress Wednesday with what he called “excellent” prospects for long-term sobriety – in large part because he sought help before he landed in the kind of trouble that has brought him criticism in the past.
In May 2006, a late-night car crash on Capitol Hill attracted harsh publicity and prompted Kennedy to enter an addition treatment facility and to acknowledge that he had been an alcoholic and drug addict for most of his adult life. Since then Kennedy had become a public face for recovery from addiction.
On June 12, Kennedy announced through his office that he had left the House for an indefinite period of time to enter a treatment facility. He has since disclosed that he underwent a 28-day treatment regime at Father Martin’s Ashley, a Maryland center well-known in recovery circles.
Kennedy said Wednesday that he hopes his decision to seek treatment was another “sign to people that this is a chronic illness not unlike a cancer that goes into remission but then becomes malignant again.”
He said, “This is a chronic illness that needs lifelong attention. You can’t ever be cured of it. It needs to be monitored on a day-to-day basis for your whole life.”
Over my 15 years in public life, I’ve felt a responsibility to speak honestly and openly about my challenges with addiction and depression. I’ve been fighting this chronic disease since I was a young man, and have aggressively and periodically sought treatment so that I can live a full and productive life. I struggle every day with this disease, as do millions of Americans. I’ve dedicated my public service to raising awareness about the chronic disease of addiction, and have fought to increase access to care and recovery supports for the too many Americans forced to struggle on their own.
This past Christmas, I realized that I had to seek help again so checked myself into the Mayo Clinic for addiction to prescription pain medication.
I am deeply concerned about my reaction to the medication and my lack of knowledge of the accident that evening. But I do know enough to know that I need to seek expert help. This afternoon, I’m traveling to Minnesota to seek treatment at the Mayo Clinic to ensure I can continue on my road to recovery.