Driven into Rehab
updated 05/22/2006 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 05/22/2006 AT 01:00 AM EDT
By his own account, Kennedy, who is single, wandered from his bed under the influence of the antinausea drug Phenergan, which he was taking for a stomach ailment, and Ambien, a sleeping aid that has drawn attention lately after users reported driving in their sleep (PEOPLE, April 3). Taken together, says Gene Lutz of the American Pharmacists Association, "it could make you sleepy and disoriented." But neither drug is a painkiller. Friends, who trace Kennedy's painkiller addiction to surgery he had as a college student to remove a tumor from his back, see why the car crash propelled him back into rehab. "His reaction to [these] prescription medications scared him," says pal Jack McConnell. "I think he realized how volatile it still was."
For many friends, the bigger surprise was a May 6 report in the Providence Journal that Kennedy had also admitted to binge drinking. "I've never seen Patrick drunk, and I've seen him in plenty of private places where there was no political reason not to drink," says former Rhode Island governor Bruce Sundlun. As for Kennedy's political future, on May 8 state Democrats endorsed him for reelection after party chairman Bill Lynch vowed, "We don't walk away from our friends."