Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick talks about personal battle with alcoholism

Arizona lawmaker returns to House following six-week absence for treatment
Published: Feb. 26, 2020 at 10:09 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick revealed her battle with alcoholism earlier this year and took time off to seek treatment.

She made the announcement Jan. 15, days after she was injured in a serious fall.

“It’s been seven weeks since I fell and it was a big wake up call to me, it really was,” Kirkpatrick said Wednesday on her return to the Capitol. “Realizing I am addicted to alcohol and went to treatment.”

I U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick seeking treatment for alcohol dependence I

Kirkpatrick, who suffered a spine fracture, cracked ribs and gash to her head, said she didn’t know she had a drinking problem until the accident. She said she was having wine during a lunch break in D.C. when she had to rush back for a vote that came three hours early.

“I’m feeling really good, it’s so nice to be back,” she said about returning to D.C. “I just want to thank everybody for their overwhelming support. You know seeing my colleagues has been great today. Everybody’s just been very very supportive.”

She said the ordeal opened her eyes to a major problem facing millions in the U.S.

“It opened my eyes to the problem of addiction in this country, and the lack of mental health services,” she said. “And so, you know, I want to continue to champion that, as we move forward."

Kirkpatrick said anyone fighting the problem should ask for help.

“It (addiction) doesn’t discriminate,” she said. “And there’s help. Reach out and get the help that you need and you deserve. Because you deserve to be well in body, mind and spirit.”

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration has a 24/7 hotline. Treatment referral and information service are provided in English and Spanish at 1-800-662-HELP.

Kirkpatrick beat Lea Marquez Peterson for the District 2 seat in 2018, winning with 55 percent of the vote.

Kirkpatrick is facing reelection in the Tucson-area district, which is closely divided between Republicans and Democrats.

“I guess the voters will decide, right?” she said. “It’s important to me to always be who I am and be open and honest, and we’ve done that.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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