U.S. Rep. John Sullivan checks in to Betty Ford clinic
BY JIM MYERS World Washington Bureau
Friday, May 29, 2009
5/29/09 at 9:39 PM
WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. John Sullivan, who has spoken openly about former problems with drinking, announced Friday that he has checked himself into a treatment center to seek help for his alcohol addiction.
In a message to his constituents, the 44-year-old Oklahoma Republican also said he would take a temporary leave of absence from Congress.
“I value my relationship with the citizens of Oklahoma's First Congressional District, whom I am privileged and honored to have served for the past eight years,’’ Sullivan said in the statement that an aide released to the press. “So, I wanted to be open and honest on this tough situation.’’
Sullivan’s staff declined to provide comments beyond his statement.
According to his statement, the congressman checked himself into the Betty Ford Center in California on Thursday night “to treat my addiction to alcohol.’’
“My family is going through a difficult time right now and I ask that you respect their privacy and keep us in your thoughts and prayers,’’ Sullivan stated.
“With God’s help and strength, I will get through this most challenging time in my life.’’
He said the leave from Congress was “to ensure my success in this fight.’’
The congressman’s statement did not address how long his leave of Congress might last.
According to information on the Web site of the Betty Ford Center, the most common length of stay for first-time, inpatient treatment is 30 days.
Sullivan has said that he shared his story about his problems with alcohol a number of times before he ran for Congress.
His story began receiving media attention after his first congressional race in 2002.
Several months after that election, Sullivan spoke to Tulsa high school students to warn students about the dangers of drinking.
Sullivan also told the students about his own “mistakes’’ with alcohol and said he was asking students to sign pledge cards to stay alcohol free.
He said at the time he finally had eliminated alcohol from his life.
In a subsequent interview with the Tulsa World, Sullivan blamed drinking for his having a police record before he was out of his teens.
Sullivan’s announcement drew a statement of support from his colleague, Rep. Dan Boren, D-Okla.
“Andrea and I send our prayers to John and his family,’’ Boren said.
“He has our unconditional support. We wish him a healthy recovery, and we will welcome him upon his return to service.’’
U.S. Rep. Sullivan's statement to constituents:
"Last night, I checked myself in to the Betty Ford Center in California to treat my addiction to alcohol.
"To ensure my success in this fight, I've decided to take a temporary leave of absence from Congress. I value my relationship with the citizens of Oklahoma's First Congressional District, whom I am privileged and honored to have served for the past eight years. So, I wanted to be open and honest on this tough situation.
"I ask for your continued support and prayers as I face the challenges that lay ahead. I look forward to returning to serve and work for you in the House of Representatives as soon as possible.
"My family is going through a difficult time right now and I ask that you respect their privacy and keep us in your thoughts and prayers. With God's help and strength, I will get through this most challenging time in my life."
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U.S. Rep. John Sullivan