PHOENIX (AP) — U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona said Wednesday that she’s taking time off from her congressional duties to seek treatment for alcohol dependence after a “serious” fall last week.
Kirkpatrick, a Democrat whose swing district in southern Arizona has been targeted by Republicans in the November election, said she’s “finally seeking this help after struggling to do so in the past.”
“I am ready to admit that I, like countless other Americans, suffer from this disease,” Kirkpatrick said in a statement. “Hard work and determination — which have brought me success in life — have not been enough to win this battle.”
Kirkpatrick fell in Washington and went to a hospital with multiple cracked ribs and spinal fractures and required staples in her head, her spokeswoman, Abigail O’Brien, told the Arizona Daily Star.
In her statement, Kirkpatrick described alcohol dependence as “the underlying cause of my fall.” With physical therapy, she said she can fully recover.
O’Brien estimated the congresswoman would be out for three weeks, “possibly more.” Kirkpatrick said she has “the full expectation and desire to return to work stronger and healthier and to continue serving my beloved Arizona.” She said her staff would continue representing constituents and she would publicly disclose her position on all the recorded votes she misses.
She missed a Thursday vote on a resolution asserting that President Donald Trump must seek approval from Congress before engaging in further military action against Iran.
Kirkpatrick, 69, has positioned herself as a moderate in Congress, representing parts of Arizona for most of the past decade, including rural and conservative areas.
She currently represents a swing district in Tucson and southeastern Arizona that Republicans are targeting in the 2020 election. Seven Republicans have filed paperwork to challenge Kirkpatrick in November.
She previously represented a different swing district in northern and eastern Arizona before she ran unsuccessfully against Republican Sen. John McCain in 2016.
McCain’s widow, Cindy McCain, who has been open about her own struggles with addiction to prescription pain pills three decades ago, said on Twitter that she’s “sending lots of support and friendship to @RepKirkpatrick.”
Before her first run for Congress in 2008, Kirkpatrick was a state lawmaker, prosecutor and attorney.
Rep. Paul Gosar, a Republican who unseated Kirkpatrick in a 2010 House race, tweeted that he’s keeping her in his thoughts. Kirkpatrick won the seat back after Gosar switched to a different district for the 2012 election.
“There are many stressors in this business and at every reception and dinner alcohol is provided,” he wrote. “It’s easy — too easy — to become addicted and I wish god speed to my colleague, my friend and my fellow Arizonan. God bless you Ann.”