Patrick Kennedy Marks 11 Years of Sobriety: 'I Am So Proud of You,' Says Wife

Patrick, the son of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, is in recovery from addictions to alcohol and prescription pain medications and is now an advocate for mental health

Patrick J. Kennedy
Patrick Kennedy with two of his kids. Photo: Amy Kennedy/Twitter

Patrick Kennedy is marking a major milestone in his journey from addiction as he celebrates 11 years of sobriety.

Kennedy, 54, the son of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy and a former representative for Rhode Island, went sober in 2011 after years of addictions to alcohol and prescription pain medications.

"Today marks 11 years sober for @PJK4brainhealth," his wife, Amy Kennedy, wrote on Twitter. "His commitment to sobriety inspires our family, and fills our lives with joy and love."

"Patrick, I am so proud of you," she continued. "Thank you to all his fellows who offer support every day. #OneDayAtATime"

Patrick, who is now an advocate for mental health and founded One Mind, a research organization focused on brain diseases, has said that he was treated for cocaine use as a teenager and was a heavy drinker. In 2006, while still a congressman, he crashed his car into a security barrier near the Capitol and entered rehab for an addiction to prescription pain medication, admitting in a statement, "I know I need help."

He entered a second rehab treatment in 2009, and two years later fully committed to sobriety and left Congress.

Patrick has said that addiction was "a family disease," and claims that both his father Ted and his mother Joan had a reliance on alcohol that was brushed under the rug. In Patrick's 2015 book A Common Struggle: A Personal Journey Through the Past and Future of Mental Illness and Addiction, he wrote that his mother spent most of the day inebriated as politicians filled their home, and Ted's alcoholism likely developed from repressed mourning over the loss of his two brothers, John and Bobby.

"My father went on in silent desperation for much of his life, self-medicating and unwittingly passing his unprocessed trauma onto my sister, brother and me."

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Patrick said in a 2015 interview with 60 Minutes that he became a heavy drinker by age 13, and when he was elected to Congress in 1994 he was dealing with alcoholism and a pill addiction, along with anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder.

After the car crash and Ted's death in 2009, the father of five committed to sobriety and now manages his addictions and mental illnesses with regular swims, daily 12-step meetings and medication for his bipolar disorder.

"I am an addict. I'll always be an addict. But I'm an addict in recovery," he told host Lesley Stahl at the time. "I count my days. It's one day at a time."

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