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Patrick Kennedy: In his own words. Transcript of statement on addiction and depression.


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)


Dear Patrick, You are showing great courage, speaking out like this in public. You will help a lot of people who are also addicted and have problems with mental illness. I am an Independent voter, a senior citizen with grown children and grandchildren, and I realize "There for the Grace of God Go I." I want you to have this poem I wrote years ago. It was published in the Woburn Times for the graduates. It has helped so many people of all ages and it’s now one you may share. May God Bless you and yours as each day becomes a wondrous new day for you. Thelma Jane Davis, MA.


When the morning’s light beams down on me,
I thank OUR LORD for a new day to see,
A new day to see not just with my eyes,
But one . . . where each sense intensifies.
From each rain burst, a wonder I feel,
As I quench my thirst and cleanse with zeal.
Like a child in awe, I wonder how a bird can fly.
What is nature’s law as wings flutter about the sky?
In the mirror, I search for THE GOD part in me,
The part with the strength for what the day will be.
I see not just a body with each hair in place,
I see a beautiful soul, wearing THE LORD’s face.
In the darkest shadow, I hold no fear.
With the light from the sun, MY LORD is near.
No matter what this day might bring,
HE is here when I cannot sing.
If all around me makes me cry,
I’ll think like HIM and not ask why.
In the mirror, I now see
HE has a plan just for me.
I’ll do the best I can in all work I do.
In the mirror, HE’LL say,

By Thelma Jane Davis

i am very happy that Mr. is saying the addiction is a desease. In our society we have many deseses, alchol, smoking and many others. He is lucky that he has the money to ckeck himself into the best hospital and not worry abouth the money. how many others in the country have that choice. Yet we criminalized them and put them in jail.When are going to justice equally for all human beings..

Patrick Kennedy's forthrightness has to be very appreciated in these times of "non"-forthrightness. The chronic disease he struggles with is rampant in our country and affects people of all ages and from all walks of life. I feel compassion for his struggle and wish him all the best in his hard work ahead.

~ Patty Ann Smith

First off, perhaps Patrick Kennedy needs to resign and find himself a less stressful job than Congressman. Coming from a wealthy, connected family, he might not even need to work at all.

Secondly, all prescriptions come with instructions and warnings. As someone with a history of drug abuse he should know this.


If he cannot break himself of his habits or from driving impaired, he can always hire a driver or call a cab like us regular citizens do. I hope the voters of his district see the light now and vote for someone else next time.

To whom much has been given, much should be expected. While underprivileged youg folks are risking it all in the Middle East, this whimp is blaming his conduct on a condition which would not constitute an get out of jail card for those of lower economic fortune.

Also had weird experience
after taking ambien. I must have falled out of bed, had bad bruises all over boday. Next day did Not remember anything from that night, Have not taken ambien since. Thhis sounds to me like something that happened to senator Kennedy. Nelle Pearlman

Patrick should have been given the standard sobriety test and arrested for drunken driving instead of given a pass and driven home by the police. Medication? Hah! The only question was Scotch or Bourbon! Get him off the streets brfore he kills someone just like his dad did.

He should of received a breathalizer test just like everyone else. It is good to be a Kennedy especially when you break the law.

Dear Ms. Sweet---Under your thinking if I get a DUI should I be excused because I had past family matters who were alcoholics? I'm sure the police officer stopping me will understand (LOL). Why do you have such a DOUBLE STANDARD just because he's a Kennedy? Finally, I wonder if Cynthia McKinney feels there is a double-standard. ---sincerely, john h.

I hope that Patrick will recover well. In our western culture it is a shame to have chronic desease - and to have severe depression that one cure with prescription medication. Pain killers addiction, as well as sedative addiction is severe problem, not only because of denail, also because of denail of that is desease - and it is good that media and people heard about. I wish you recover as soon as possible, speaking as medical professional and human as well.

Interesting that a good 'ol boy such as Patrick Kennedy can get away with such a crime, and is greeted with an outpouring of forgiveness and understanding! I find it ironic that a republican, caught in a predicamint with FAR less evidence, and no real damage such as Rush Limbaugh becomes a sign post for the reasons why addicts should be shoved away!! Oh, the hypocrisy.

What do you do if the medication just isn't helping enough? Like it did before. WBR LeoP

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on May 9, 2006 6:48 AM.

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