Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) on May 5, 2006....
`` Over my 15 years in public life, I felt a responsibility to speak honestly and openly about the challenges that I have with addiction and depression. I’ve been fighting this chronic disease since I was a young man and have aggressively and periodicly 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 support for the many Americans forced to struggle on their own.
This past Christmas I realized I needed to seek help again, so I checked myself into the Mayo Clinic for addiction to prescription pain medication. I was there over the holiday and over the House recess as well and I returned to the House of Representatives and to Rhode Island reinvigorated and healthy.
Of course, in every recovery, each day has its ups and downs, but I have been strong, focused and productive in my term of office.
But in all candor, the incident on Wednesday evening concerns me greatly. I simply do not remember getting out of bed, being pulled over by the police or being cited for three driving infractions. That’s not how I want to live my life and it’s not how I want to represent the people of Rhode Island.
The reoccurrence of an addiction problem can be triggered by things that happen in everyday life, such as taking the common treatment for a stomach flu. That’s not an excuse for what happened Wednesday evening, but it is a reality of fighting a chronic condition for which I am taking full responsibility.
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 that I know that I need help. This afternoon I am traveling to Minnesota to seek treatment at the Mayo Clinic to insure that I can continue on my road to recovery.
The greatest honor of my public life is to serve the people of Rhode Island and I determined to address this issue so that I can continue to fight for the families of Rhode Island with the same dedication and rigor that I have exemplified over the past decade.
I hope that my openness today and in the past and my acknowledgement that I need help will give others courage to get help if they need it. I am blessed to have a loving family who is in my corner every step of the way. And I am grateful to my friends, both here and in Rhode Island for reaching out to me at this time.
And I would like to call once for passage of mental health parity.
(transcription of May 5, 2006 press conference by Lynn Sweet)