Patrick Kennedy Admits, ‘I Need Help’

May 5, 2006
by Marc B. Zawel and Maria Lehner

A day after crashing his car into a security barrier near the Capitol, Rep. Patrick Kennedy announced that he is entering rehab for addiction to prescription pain medication.

“I know I need help,” the Rhode Island Democrat said in a brief statement he delivered at a press conference on Friday.

Kennedy, the son of Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy, is heading to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., for treatment. This is not his first time seeking help with addiction. Last Christmas, Kennedy returned to Washington, D.C., after a stay at the Mayo Clinic feeling focused and in good shape, he said. But, he added Friday: “As in every recovery, each day has its ups and downs.”

Yesterday was definitely a low. Capitol police witnessed Kennedy’s car accident and cited him for failure to keep a proper lane, unreasonable speed and failure to give full time and attention to the operation of a vehicle.

A police report said Kennedy’s “eyes were red and watery, speech was slightly slurred, and upon exiting his vehicle, his balance was unsure.”

Kennedy later issued a statement saying he’d taken a sleeping pill and another drug that can cause drowsiness and had told officers he was “headed to the Capitol to make a vote” at the time of the accident, which was about 2:47 a.m.

The officers who pulled Kennedy over were instructed by an official “above the rank of patrolman” to take him home and no sobriety tests were conducted at the scene, Louis P. Cannon, president of the Washington chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, told the Associated Press.

Of the incident, Kennedy said Friday: “I simply do not remember getting out of bed.” He said he also did not remember being pulled over, adding, “That’s not how I want to live my life.”

Kennedy called his struggle with addiction a “chronic condition” and said he is “taking full responsibility” for his actions.

Asked if he planned to resign, he shook his head and said, “I need to stay in the fight.”

Soon after the Friday press conference, Ted Kennedy issued a statement reading, in part: “I love Patrick very much and am very proud of him. All of us in the family admire his courage in speaking publicly about very personal issues and fully support his decision to seek treatment.”

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