Patrick Kennedy Returns to Treatment Facility
Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I), the son of ailing Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) who has publicly battled drug addiction and manic depression for three years, is back in a medical treatment facility, the congressman disclosed today.
"I have always said that recovery is a life-long process and that I will do whatever it takes to preserve my health," Kennedy, who turns 42 next month, said in a statement. "In consultation with my doctor, I have decided to temporarily step away from my normal routine to ensure that I am being as vigilant as possible in my recovery."
Former congressman Jim Ramstad (R-Minn.), a longtime recovering alcoholic and close friend and mentor of Kennedy, said he knew of no particular incident or troubling signs that precipitated Kennedy's treatment. "He reached this decision totally in consultation with his doctors and made the right decision," Ramstand said in a telephone interview with the Sleuth late Friday afternoon. "Those of us in recovery, especially in the first couple of years, experience bumps in the road and need preventative maintenance."
Since his highly publicized drug-induced car crash in the middle of night in May 2006, Kennedy has made mental health care reform his chief legislative priority. He said in his statement that he hopes "my decision to be proactive and public in my efforts to remain healthy can help remove the stigma that has served as a barrier for many Americans reluctant to get the help they need."
Kennedy has publicly stated he suffers from bipolar disorder, for which he takes prescription medication.
Ramstad regularly stays in close touch with Kennedy, whom he said is "like a brother, we are very close friends." The Minnesota Republican says he plans to visit Kennedy while he's in treatment, perhaps as soon as next week.
Kennedy checked himself into the Mayo Clinic after his 2006 incident. Aides and associates who asked to remain anonymous said he is not at the Mayo Clinic this time around, but they declined to name the facility. One Kennedy aide said the congressman has been there "all week."
There is no timetable for when he may be released. But a former Kennedy staffer told the Providence Journal newspaper, which was first to report the news of Kennedy's return to treatment, that the congressman plans to return to Capitol Hill in time for a possible debate on national health care, an issue dear to his heart, later this summer.
"I'm confident he will return to Congress stronger and healthier than ever," Ramstad told the Sleuth.
Mary Ann Akers
June 12, 2009; 6:16 PM ET
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