Patrick Kennedy on The Axe Files
Former Rep. Patrick Kennedy opened up about addiction and pushed for mental health reform on The Axe Files, a podcast hosted by David Axelrod and produced by CNN and the University of Chicago Institute of Politics.
The son of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, Patrick Kennedy has struggled with drug and alcohol addiction — and in the public eye — since his youth.
"Growing up in my family is obviously all I knew, so it was normal," Kennedy told Axelrod on the podcast. "But if you get a little separation from it, you're able to begin to identify what is normal and what isn't normal. I grew up and totally kind of dismissed the enormous impact that all this tragedy that my father had experienced, both my parents had experienced, my whole family had experienced. [It] was just kind of a constant backdrop to everything that was going on in our lives, but one that wasn't spoken about."
Now sober, healthy and happy, Kennedy is using his position in one of the most powerful political families in America to raise awareness about addiction and mental illness.
"It's that family ethos of you have to be quiet about this," Kennedy said. "And it's that family ethos that kept us all ill. This has affected my brother and sister and it may, David, affect our children if I'm not on it. This is generational, so there is a gnawing pathology to the silence of not acknowledging what is so devastatingly hurtful."