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Reps. Kennedy and Sullivan Out of Rehab

Reps. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), right, and John Sullivan (R-Okla.), left, are out of rehab and back on the job. (AP Photo/Tulsa World, Michael Wyke/Andrea Bruce / The Washington Post)

Updated, 3:28 p.m.

Reps. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) and John Sullivan (R-Okla.), both of whom spent the past month in substance abuse treatment programs, are returning to Capitol Hill this week.

An aide to Sullivan tells the Sleuth the Oklahoma congressman has completed his rehabilitation at the Betty Ford Center in California and has returned to work in his predominantly Christian conservative district, which is home to Oral Roberts University.

Sullivan issued a letter today to his supporters, which was posted on his reelection campaign Web site, saying, "My time at the Betty Ford Center gave me the opportunity to reflect on my life and afforded me a clearer perspective on what is truly important: God, family, friends and service to others. Although this was certainly not what I had planned for my life it has turned out to be something that has strengthened me."

Likewise, Rep. Kennedy, in a telephone interview with The Sleuth this morning, said he's returning to the House this week reinvigorated and more spiritually awakened.

"I totally surrendered to my powerlessness over the illness," Kennedy told us. "The fact [is], I can't do it by myself and need a higher power to help me. I get on my knees every morning and pray for that help."

Kennedy, who turns 42 next week, underwent a 28-day program at Father Martin's Ashley addiction treatment center in Havre de Grace, Md., about an hour-and-a-half outside of the District. It was his second time undergoing a drug and alcohol addiction treatment program.

The close proximity of Havre de Grace to Washington allowed him to make a surprise visit to Capitol Hill two weeks ago to cast a vote on the energy bill, which was a crucial legislative priority of President Obama and the Democratic congressional leadership. Democratic leaders also managed to woo the ailing Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who was recuperating from surgery, to the House chamber to vote on the bill.

"Nancy was really working those votes," Kennedy joked of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. "They grabbed him (Lewis) and rolled him out of the hospital, grabbed me and rolled me in.... Then they put me right back in a van and shuffled me back to rehab." (Lewis's office would like to emphasize that Kennedy's comment was a joke; the congressman was not in the hospital, he was recuperating at home from back surgery.)

Kennedy was released from treatment last week. He said he spent a "wonderful Fourth of July holiday with my Dad" on Cape Cod. Kennedy's father, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), who is battling brain cancer, has been largely absent from the Senate.

"He's doing great," Patrick Kennedy said.

Today the Rhode Island congressman is traveling to Minnesota to attend a funeral for the father of former congressman Jim Ramstad, who is Kennedy's sponsor in Alcoholics Anonymous. The funeral is scheduled for tomorrow.

Kennedy says he plans to be back on Capitol Hill in time for House votes late Tuesday afternoon, when Congress is slated to return from its Fourth of July recess.

The congressman says he is "excited to be back" and is feeling "healthy and focused on health care and other issues that I've been most interested in and passionate about. I've got my special niche in the area of mental health and substance abuse, which I've been most interested in seeing incorporated into the overall health care reform bill that's coming up later this summer."

By Mary Ann Akers  |  July 6, 2009; 1:11 PM ET
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Learn the facts about Alcohol Dependence. For evidence-based information on Alcohol Dependence (Alcoholism) and Alcohol Abuse, please visit us at

There are comprehensive sections for the Alcohol Dependent and the Families and Friends along with information on evidence-based treatment modalities - including medicated-assisted treatment – Resources, an extensive Alcohol & Health section, and Discussion Communities for support and information at

Posted by: NancyNAABT | July 6, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

As with so many celebrities, Kennedy clearly doesn't get the concept of anonymity when it comes to AA. If he's publicizing his sponsor's name in WaPo, you can soon expect a third, fourth or fifth rehab in his not so distant future.

Posted by: Omyobama | July 6, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

I just want to wish these guys good luck. I know thats not real interesting writing but they sure do carry a heavy load. Guys, get it right. You only get so many chances.

Posted by: jr125 | July 6, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

I hope Patches Kennedy left rehab in time to tie one on down in Hyannisport over the Fourth of July. It's July in Hyannisport.....stay off the sidewalks ! The single most gluttoness family in the history of the United States of America.

Posted by: nobama2012 | July 6, 2009 6:00 PM | Report abuse


What a mean spirited response. AA is one way but to render it dogma is to do just that. Anonymity is a concept. Recovery a process. Keep to your own program. Cease with your dour predictions and rememeber the Serenity Prayer. Pray for the addicts who still suffer and keep your sour prognostications of failure and doom to yourself.

Posted by: anonpost1 | July 6, 2009 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Is Addiction Really a Sickness?
Turning Sin into Sickness
How Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry Usurp the Word of God
Author: Kurt Grady
INTRODUCTION - Have we been deceived? In our pursuit of "scientific" truth, have we failed in our primary reason for being --- honoring Him?

Posted by: UAW_GM | July 7, 2009 12:55 AM | Report abuse

Is Addiction Really a Sickness?
Turning Sin into Sickness
How Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry Usurp the Word of God
Author: Kurt Grady
INTRODUCTION - Have we been deceived? In our pursuit of "scientific" truth, have we failed in our primary reason for being --- honoring Him?

Posted by: UAW_GM

The fact that you have to put scientific in quotes is a clear indication that you are a useless human being. Waste of space and oxygen.

Best if you were dead!

Christianity is the worship of a 3-in-1 god who fornicated with his virgin mother to give birth to himself only so that he may sacrifice himself to himself on the cross to spare his own creation from his own wrath!

Fitting that the divinely insane are worshiped by the humanly insane!

Posted by: HumanSimpleton | July 12, 2009 12:09 AM | Report abuse

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