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Congressman Sullivan Discusses Time In Rehab

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Oklahoma Congressman John Sullivan called his battle with alcoholism the most "challenging time of my life." Oklahoma Congressman John Sullivan called his battle with alcoholism the most "challenging time of my life."

By Emory Bryan, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Tulsa Congressman John Sullivan is out of treatment for alcoholism.  Sullivan entered the Betty Ford Center last month for what he describes as a problem that was getting worse by the day.

Congressman Sullivan said he is embarrassed, but relieved to come clean about his alcoholism and month long treatment, what he says is just the start of fighting a battle that's been going on a long time.

7/5/2009  Related Story: Congressman John Sullivan Returns From Rehab

John Sullivan said just over a month ago, he wouldn't have considered himself an alcoholic, even though he had a long history of drinking.

"Before I was in Congress I did this.  I didn't do it because I was down or depressed or happy.  It didn't matter how I felt, none of those external things triggered, most of it was within," said Congressman John Sullivan.  "I have off and on since I was 27, I have.  I drank before that, but that's when it started affecting my life."

But, Sullivan says he started drinking more, mainly at home on weekends, and it was increasingly affecting his work and family.

"It just started getting worse.  I was drinking more and I knew I needed to do something," said Republican Congressman John Sullivan.  "I talked to my son, he's seeing me drinking, I'm telling him not to.  I'm yelling at him, fighting with his mother in front of him, I got to be better than this."

Sullivan said during his month long treatment he learned that he will face a long recovery, but that he can overcome it.

"I can't drink.  When I drink, it goes in and I react differently than a normal person.  The choice I have is to work hard, and do what I need to do, but also to not to drink the first one.  It's not the tenth drink that gets me drunk.  It's the first one that starts the process," said Oklahoma Congressman John Sullivan.

Sullivan is in the middle of a term, but expects to run for re-election.  He doesn't believe he'll pay a political price for admitting his problem.

"I'm sure people are disappointed or don't understand and I want them to know I'm sorry.  If I offended them, I apologize.  But, I had to get help and I have the disease of alcoholism, and if someone had diabetes, we wouldn't have that conversation," said Congressman John Sullivan.

Sullivan's office says he treatment was not at taxpayer expense.  He was on medical leave from Congress and missed some votes, including the Cap and Trade vote, but Sullivan says that's coming back so he'll get another chance.

He returns to Washington on Tuesday.

 

***A Message from Congressman John Sullivan

I have completed my treatment at the Betty Ford Center and I am now back home. Words can't begin to describe how truly grateful I am for all the prayers, letters, kindness and love that you have expressed to me and my family.

My time at the Betty Ford Center gave me the opportunity to reflect on my life and afforded me a clearer perspective on what is truly important: God, family, friends and service to others.

Although this was certainly not what I had planned for my life it has turned out to be something that has strengthened me. I am already back to work. All of you have stood by me in this difficult time and I will stand stronger than ever for you in the US Congress.

Thank you and may God bless you and your families.

Sincerely, John Sullivan

 

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