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
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.