Patrick Kennedy Is 'Better' After Treating Dependency

Published: June 6, 2006

Representative Patrick J. Kennedy said yesterday that he felt much better after almost a month's treatment in the Mayo Clinic for drug dependency, and that he was looking forward to resuming his duties.

But he said that he continued to suffer from bipolar disorder and a tendency toward addiction, and will need help from a support group to avoid a relapse.

"The key to recovery will be a small group of people who will watch over me," he said at a televised news conference.

Mr. Kennedy said, as he has before, that he had not been drinking before an early-morning car accident near the Capitol in Washington on May 4, even though the police on the scene said he appeared to be intoxicated. Mr. Kennedy said the police had canvassed bars in the District of Columbia seeking evidence of his drinking but were unable to find any. Rather, he said, he was under the influence of prescription antinausea and sleep medications, which he had taken at the "prescribed amount."

The question-and-answer session came after Mr. Kennedy, Democrat of Rhode Island, helped to open a conference on the future of mental health care and addiction treatment at Brown University in Providence.

"I can tell you today, I feel confident of my health," he said at the health conference, adding that he was "positive about my future."

He was discharged from the clinic, in Rochester, Minn., on Friday and spent the weekend with relatives in Washington before returning to Rhode Island on Sunday night. His private medical insurance policy paid for the stay in the clinic, he said.

The event was Mr. Kennedy's first public appearance since checking himself into the clinic on May 5, the day after the auto accident. Mr. Kennedy has said he has no memory of the crash or of his subsequent encounter with the Capitol Police, who charged him with three traffic violations.

Mr. Kennedy, the son of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, put his drug taking in the larger context of mental illness. "I didn't know how miserable I was until I started to be feeling better," he said of his time at the clinic.