Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) has checked into an addiction treatment center, saying that he has “decided to temporarily step away from my normal routine to ensure that I am being as vigilant as possible in my recovery.”
The Associated Press reported June 13 that Kennedy described his recovery as a “lifelong process,” and said that he was more aware of the stresses in his life and was trying to minimize them. Kennedy's father, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), was recently diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and has been undergoing treatment.
Rep. Kennedy also expressed hope that his decision to be proactive about his recovery would encourage other Americans who were reluctant to get help.
Kennedy has wrestled with alcoholism, bipolar disorder and an addiction to prescription drugs for many years. Three years ago, after an early morning car crash near the U.S. Capitol, he agreed to a guilty plea that included entering a rehabilitation program.
Last October, Congress passed legislation that Kennedy had championed and which requires insurance companies to treat mental health on an equal basis with physical illnesses.
Kennedy enjoys high approval ratings in his home district, and in last November's elections he easily won an eighth term. However, Giovanni Cicione, chairman of the Rhode Island Republican Party, said that Kennedy needs to consider whether he is properly serving his constituents. William Lynch, chairman of the state Democratic Party, said that there has been no discussion of Kennedy giving up his seat.