Rep. Patrick Kennedy Enters Drug Rehab

The Associated Press
Saturday, May 6, 2006; 2:15 AM

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Patrick Kennedy entered treatment for addiction to prescription pain drugs late Friday after a middle-of-the-night car crash near the Capitol that he said he had no memory of. "That's not how I want to live my life," he declared.

Kennedy, D-R.I., the son of Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, is being treated at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

His one-car accident about 3 a.m. Thursday was the talk of the capital, with police saying he appeared to be intoxicated but Kennedy saying later that day that he had had nothing to drink.

For Kennedy, who said he has suffered from depression and pain-medication addiction for years, the trip to the Mayo Clinic was his second in less than five months. He went there over Christmas and said he returned to Congress "reinvigorated and healthy."

"I've been fighting this chronic disease since I was a young man, and have aggressively and periodically sought treatment so that I can live a full and productive life," he said at a Capitol Hill news conference.

"Of course, in every recovery, each day has its ups and downs, but I have been strong, focused and productive since my return," Kennedy said.

Kennedy said he realized he needed to seek treatment again after he crashed his car. Capitol Police cited him with three traffic violations and said Friday their investigation was continuing. Kennedy promised to cooperate with police.

The accident sparked allegations that Kennedy was drinking and had received special treatment by police. He said he could not recall the accident.

"I simply do not remember getting out of bed, being pulled over by the police, or being cited for three driving infractions," Kennedy said. "That's not how I want to live my life. And that's not how I want to represent the people of Rhode Island."

Kennedy, 38, a nephew of President Kennedy, was elected to Congress in 1994. As he left the lectern Friday, he shook his head no when asked if he might resign. "I need to stay in the fight," he said. He did not take other questions.

As a high school senior, Kennedy was treated at a drug rehabilitation clinic before he went to Providence College. He has said he wants to end the stigma of mental health problems, and he has been praised by mental health professionals for being open about his struggles with depression, alcoholism and substance abuse. He also has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

"I hope that my openness today and in the past, and my acknowledgment that I need help, will give others the courage to get help if they need it," he said Friday.

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