Kennedy battles his demons

Rep. Patrick Kennedy says he is tackling his prescription drug addiction one day at a time, a year after crashing his car into a Capitol barricade in the middle of the night.

In an interview Wednesday with The Associated Press, the 39-year-old son of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., said he has been more vigilant about reducing stress and reaching out to friends and colleagues for support.

"I’m much more aware of the stresses in my life and minimize it where possible and connect with people whenever I do have it, so I have social support systems there when I need them," said Kennedy, a Democrat from Rhode Island now in his seventh term.

Kennedy said Rep. Jim Ramstad, R-Minn., a recovering alcoholic who is Kennedy’s Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor, has played an important role in his recovery.

"There’s a lot more going on in the relationships I’ve had with my colleagues in the last year than just the politics," Kennedy said. "It’s made my service here, my work here so much more enjoyable on a day-to-day basis, a richer experience."

Kennedy crashed his 1997 Ford Mustang convertible into a security barrier about 3 a.m. on May 4, 2006. He agreed to a plea deal with prosecutors on a charge of driving under the influence of prescription drugs.

He completed his court-ordered drug treatment and probation last month. Treatment included weekly AA meetings and counseling with his physician, who told the court in March that Kennedy was "clean and sober."

"Recovery is a day-to-day thing," Kennedy said. "I just take it — you know, life — as they say to take it, one day at a time."

The congressman has battled addiction since high school. He said his struggles to recover from depression, alcoholism and substance abuse have made him a more passionate advocate for improved mental health care coverage.

Citing the extensive health coverage that members of Congress enjoy, Kennedy said he considers himself fortunate and wants to see more people "gain access to the kind of treatment I had. That’s why I’m so passionate about it."

Kennedy was joined by House Democratic leaders at a rally Wednesday for his bill to expand mental health and addiction treatment. The proposal would require group health plans offering benefits for mental health and addiction to do so on the same terms as care for other diseases.

"Ultimately, this is a civil rights battle because none of the people who suffer from a mental illness asked to suffer from a mental illness," Kennedy said.

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press


  1. Doubtom

    With all due respects to the moth-eaten and crumbling dynasty that is the Kennedys, why should we care what this one is swigging or shoving up his nose? Is the community suppose to take the time to hold his hand, mature him, slay his demons and then make a public office available to him?
    What is it with this infantile attachment to certain families to the point where we create our very own dynasties? Are we pining for a return to royalty?
    Patrick Kennedy can go straight to hell as far as I’m concerned and being a politician from a well-established dynasty, he probably knows exactly where hell is located.

  2. Sandy Price

    I read a biography of Chris Lawford (Peter’s son) and a cousin of all the Kennedys. The whole family was into drugs, booze and women. They had no discipline from anyone. They all grew up in and out of rehab. I grew up in the area where Lady Lawford opened her home to all the Kennedy brothers and they were as bad as any men found in or out of D.C. What they had that is lacking today is the press having respect for the White House.

    LBJ was an awful boozer and chaser of women and everyong in D.C. knew it. Even the press gave up trying to make him into something he was not. Nixon simply gave the finger to everyone and the respect for the white house soon fell into disrepair. Clinton put the icing on the cake and there was little to respect from that day on.

    The Kennedy’s were trained to win not to participate with any kind of rules. It was almost impossible to have even a casual association with any of them. Most people who did associate with them were hurt by it.