Friday, May 05, 2006

Drunken Congressman, or Just Addicted?

Many may have already read the story regarding Congressman Pat Kennedy [D - RI] (son of Senator Ted Kennedy [D - MA]) who crashed his car on Capitol Hill yesterday. He now announced he will be entering treatment for his "addiction to pain medication" after acknowledging he has no recollection of what happened. Good for him.

But there are lingering questions: Was he in fact disoriented from the medication he received, or was it something else? Originally, Kennedy claimed that he was disoriented from the Ambien and Phenergan a doctor had prescribed, but there was no mention of any addiction.

So why did Kennedy suddenly say he would go into rehab? Was it the questions about whether he'd been drinking? After all...
"Some time around 2:45 a.m., I drove the few blocks to the Capitol Complex believing I needed to vote. Apparently, I was disoriented from the medication," Kennedy said in the statement. He said he had the accident, and, "at no time before the incident did I consume any alcohol."

The Boston Herald reported Friday that Kennedy had been seen at a Capitol Hill restaurant and bar, Hawk and Dove, in the hours before the collision.

"He was drinking a little bit," a hostess told the newspaper. The Herald also said a bartender from a nearby establishment also saw the congressman at Hawk and Dove.
That's more than a little contradictory. That the police didn't give him a sobriety test and instead drove him home compounds the problem; while Kennedy claims he never asked for special treatment, he does not deny that he received it. But take into account his admission to taking Ambien and add in the possibility of alcohol, and big questions come to the surface. EditCopy, in his original partial defense of Kennedy, has a link to's warnings about Ambien [zolpidem].
Do not drink alcohol while taking zolpidem. Alcohol will increase drowsiness and may increase dizziness while you are taking zolpidem, which could be dangerous.
As he noted in his statement,
"I know that I need help," he said at an afternoon press conference, detailing what he called a long-term struggle with addiction. "I struggle every day with this disease, as do millions of Americans," he said.
Is he picking the lesser of two evils? A prescription drug problem that many can relate to over a drunk-driving incident?

Points worth pondering.