U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick received overwhelming support on social media after announcing Wednesday that she will step away from her duties to begin treatment this week for “my alcohol dependence.”
The announcement was made in a press release that thanked supporters who reached out after Kirkpatrick took a serious fall last week in Washington, breaking several ribs and leaving her with a gash on her head. She said that with physical therapy she would recover, then acknowledged alcohol “was the underlying cause of my fall.”
A spokeswoman said Kirkpatrick could be out for three weeks or longer.
"I am finally seeking this help after struggling to do so in the past, and I am ready to admit that I, like countless other Americans, suffer from this disease,” Kirkpatrick wrote. “Hard work and determination — which have brought me success in life — have not been enough to win this battle. Other than being a wife, mother, and grandmother, the most important job in the world to me is representing my fellow Arizonans. I know I must get better in order to do my best in each of these roles.”
"With humility, I share this news with you. Throughout my time in public service, I have always said that you may not agree with me but you will know where I stand. I will continue to honor that commitment to transparency and communication. So while my immediate focus is on my rehabilitation and treatment, I am taking this important step forward with the full expectation and desire to return to work stronger and healthier and to continue serving my beloved Arizona.”
She said during her absence her congressional offices “will be fully operational, processing all constituent requests, meetings, activities and correspondence. My positions on all recorded votes will be submitted to the Congressional Record and made publicly available.”
Matthew Boyd, head of the Democratic Club of the Santa Rita Area, in Green Valley, said he is proud of Kirkpatrick “for stepping forward and getting it out in the open and using this as an opportunity to get herself into a program to alter her life.”
“We’re all behind her and stand with her and hope for the best for her. I was really proud, too, of the Republicans from Arizona who represent us and the stand they took. It really made me feel good that they stood up for her.”
Felecia Rotellini, chair of the Arizona Democratic Party, said in a release that, "I know that I speak for my fellow Democrats when I say that my heart goes out to Congresswoman Kirkpatrick… We greatly admire the Congresswoman's courage and her strength during this trying time. Congresswoman Kirkpatrick has never shied away from a challenge, and I know she will meet this one head-on.”
Kirkpatrick was lauded for her candor and bravery on social media posts across the country.
Kirkpatrick, a Democrat whose Congressional District 2 includes Green Valley and Sahuarita, is up for re-election in what is considered a swing district. Several Republicans have filed to run in the primary.