John King, USA

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February 24th, 2012
11:56 AM ET

Kennedy: recovery is a ‘day to day process’

Washington (CNN) – On Friday, Former Rhode Island Democratic Rep. Patrick Kennedy opened up about his lifelong battle with addiction, asserting that recovery is still a "day to day process." Kennedy is son of the late Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and nephew of President John F. Kennedy. He left public office last year after eight terms in the U.S. House.

In an interview set to air on CNN's John King, USA, Kennedy tells Congressional Correspondent Kate Bolduan that leaving public office was the right decision. "For me, I needed to reduce the number of stressors in my life in order to let recovery take hold.” Kennedy adds, “My Dad was able to balance a private and public life and I was less successful in trying to do that."

Kennedy emphasizes the importance of family support when seeking help and attributes much of his sobriety to his growing family: "There's nothing better than love and another human connection to help keep you thinking of the future and working everyday to make that future better by living for today." Last March, Kennedy announced his engagement to New Jersey school teacher Amy Petitgout.

Since leaving the political spotlight, Kennedy spends much of his time as an advocate for mental health parity and addiction equity, discouraging health insurance companies from discriminating against individuals suffering from a mental illness. "Addiction affects everybody," he says, "We need to treat it as a medical issue not as a moral issue."

Kennedy recently launched the One Mind for Research campaign which strives to cure brain disorders and eliminate discrimination within 10 years. One Mind for Research brings together scientists, philanthropists and policy makers from across the country to collaborate on research in order to find cures for disorders like Alzheimer’s, addiction and depression. “It’s all the brain,” says Kennedy, “but unfortunately, our efforts to study the brain are often fragmented.”

When asked about whether he would ever run for public office again, Kennedy told Bolduan, “In the future, when I have a family and I have some long-term recovery, I might be able to look at other ways to serve that might be more public.”

To see the full interview tune in tonight to CNN’s John King, USA at 6 pm ET.

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  1. Mona Lisa

    It should be remembered that Pat Kennedy's assertion that his recovery is a "day by day" process is due to the fact that he is a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. The philosophy of AA is that recovery depends upon being "spiritually fit". If one is spiritually fit, then God will grant the person a "daily reprieve" from their alcoholism. This belief is fine for Pat and other 12 step adherents, but it is not a universal belief among all who have recovered from addictions. I have been sober far longer than Pat–over 13 years now, following a 25 year addiction–and I credit my own success to accepting that I could never drink again, no matter what–then doing whatever it took to make that happen. For me, it took several years of therapy and learning positive life skills to replace the destructive ones I'd used while drinking. After doing this, I have no more fear of alcohol nor do I think that God may remove my reprieve if I don't pray enough: I know that I will never drink again, and I am entirely comfortable with that.

    February 25, 2012 at 10:58 am |