Kitty Dukakis, wife of Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, has voluntarily checked herself into an alcohol treatment program in Rhode Island. The announcement was made yesterday by her husband, who blamed the problem on his failed 1988 presidential bid. "Until shortly after Election Day on November 8, Kitty had never had a problem with alcohol," Michael Dukakis said in a statement released in Boston yesterday. "Unfortunately, a combination of physical exhaustion, the stress of the campaign effort, and the post-election letdown all combined to create a situation in which, on a limited number of occasions while at home, she has used alcohol is excessive quantities." The statement said Kitty Dukakis, 52, was admitted Sunday to the Edgehill-Newport facility in Newport and is expected to remain about 30 days. Mrs. Dukakis was not known to have had previous trouble with alcohol, but in 1987 she revealed a history of substance abuse -- and said she had kept the problem from her husband for many years. As Gov. Dukakis was preparing to run for the presidency, his wife announced that she had been successfully treated at the Hazelden Clinic in Minnesota for an amphetamine, or "diet pill," dependency several years earlier. Yesterday, Dukakis said his wife entered the Newport clinic voluntarily and that the family supported her decision. "She recognizes it. It was her decision to go into treatment," he said. Jim Dorsey, the governor's press secretary, said Kitty Dukakis felt she needed help and that a "family doctor concurred that she had a continuing problem of chemical dependency." While political aides and friends of the couple expressed shock at the news, all insisted that her alcohol dependency had nothing to do with the governor's surprise announcement last month that he would not seek a fourth term as governor in 1990. Paul Costello, Kitty Dukakis' campaign press aide, conceded that she was having problems with postelection adjustment. But some of those closest to her said they saw no indications during the campaign that she was drinking heavily. Longtime friend Ruth Goldmuntz said yesterday, "I would have noticed." A tightly wrapped chain smoker, Dukakis has spoken candidly about her earlier dependency. When addressing her problems on the campaign trail, she would say that a onetime addict is "never recovered, but always recovering." She said she decided to go public so that she would be able to help others with similar problems. "She is very well aware that she is a dependent person," said Costello. Much has been written about how depressed Michael Dukakis was following his unsuccessful 1978 gubernatorial campaign, a crushing defeat his wife called a "public death." But in an interview with The Washington Post shortly before the 1988 presidential loss, Kitty Dukakis said she had steeled herself this time. "You have to be prepared," she said. "We were not prepared when Michael lost in 1978 and that was a major mistake. We're a lot wiser." Dukakis was considered one of her husband's greatest assets during the campaign, and the candidate made no secret of the fact that his mood was much improved when she was on the road with him. The Associated Press reported yesterday that Dukakis had not been at her husband's side on several high-profile occasions recently, including his announcement that he would not run again. Since November, Dukakis has spent her time speaking and preparing to write her memoirs. She recently signed a $175,000 contract with Simon & Schuster. "If there's anybody who will struggle and win," said Costello, "it's Kitty." Staff writer Maralee Schwartz contributed to this report.