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Patrick Kennedy

Patrick Kennedy's addiction came to a head after a car accident late in the night, on May 4th 2006, near the Capitol Building. Describing himself as an addict in an interview with MSNBC TODAY's Matt Lauer in 2007, Kennedy admitted that the time following the accident was when he realized his long term depression and painkiller addictions would finish him off if he didn't do something about it. Back then, the day after the accident, he made an admission that he was addicted to the prescription medications, Ambien and Phenergan.

Patrick Kennedy

Son of the late U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy from Massachusetts and formerly a member of the United States House of Representatives, Kennedy had a lifelong history of bipolar disorder and admitted abusing drugs, including cocaine, during his student years. At the time of this particular accident, he was taking the prescription anti-nausea medication, Phenergan, and Ambien, which are sleeping pills, also available with prescription.

Phenergan, a proprietary name for Promethazine, is often used as a travel sickness medication or a sleeping aid and in some countries, such as the United Kingdom It is available over the counter. It had been prescribed in this case by the physician at the Capitol, for gastro-intestinal problems. Kennedy was found guilty of driving under the influence of prescription drugs and was ordered to attend regular sessions of monitoring and counseling as a result.

Mayo on Rye ...

Patrick Kennedy's addiction to drugs in the past had led to his being admitted to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, a drug rehabilitation center. On this occasion, he re-admitted himself to the clinic and was released on June 5th 2006. In the TODAY interview, he declared his determination never to let "this disease" take its toll on him again, knowing full well the seriousness of the illness.

On June 12th 2009, months before his father's death, he re-entered rehab, not disclosing the clinic's location at the time. His statement pointed out that he had always said that recovery was a lifelong process and that he would do whatever it took to preserve his health. He had decided to step away from his normal routine, so that he could be as vigilant as possible in his recovery. An aide was quoted as saying that he had made frequent one or two day stays at the Mayo Clinic since his 2006 admission.

Replacing One Addiction ...

In his interview with Lauer, in 2007, Kennedy said that he had been in rehab earlier, during the winter of 2005 - 2006 for addiction to OxyContin, a prescription painkiller. OxyContin is a brand name for oxycodone, from Purdue Pharma, a pharmaceutical company. It is an opioid analgesic medication synthesized in 1916 to try to improve on the opiates morphine, heroin and codeine. He said that many legal and easily obtainable narcotic medications exist, and that it is all too easy to replace one addiction by another.

Patrick Kennedy's addiction, along with his depression, has dogged him for most of his life but it has also led to his championing the causes of those in similar situations to his own. He has now stood down from elected politics but not before he helped push through a bill that ensured insurance companies must treat mental health problems in the same way as they treat physical health problems. Even if you don't suffer from the same addictions or conditions as Patrick Kennedy his work will most likely help your and your family's overall healthcare for years to come.

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