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Patrick Kennedy seeks treatment

By Eric Tucker
Associated Press / June 13, 2009
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PROVIDENCE - US Representative Patrick Kennedy - who has struggled with depression, alcoholism, and addiction for much of his life - said yesterday that he has checked into a medical facility for treatment.

The Rhode Island Democrat, who sought treatment three years ago after an early-morning car crash near the US Capitol, said in a statement that his recovery is a "lifelong process" and that he will do whatever it takes to preserve his health.

"I have decided to temporarily step away from my normal routine to ensure that I am being as vigilant as possible in my recovery," said Kennedy, the son of US Senator Edward M. Kennedy. He did not say exactly what he was being treated for and did not disclose the facility's location.

Kennedy - who has wrestled with alcoholism, bipolar disorder, and an addiction to prescription drugs - has often spoken publicly about his recovery and the importance of removing any stigma associated with mental illnesses.

After a past relapse in 2006, Kennedy said he was more aware of the stresses in his life and trying to minimize them when possible. His 77-year-old father was diagnosed last year with terminal brain cancer.

The younger Kennedy has been a leading voice in Congress on mental health issues, championing legislation to require insurance companies to treat mental health on an equal basis with physical illnesses, when policies cover both. The measure passed in October as part of a $700 billion financial bailout.