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Kirkpatrick to get treatment for 'my alcohol dependence' after 'serious' fall

U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick will be treated for alcohol dependence after being injured in a "serious" fall last week, the Arizona Democrat said Wednesday.

In addition to rehab, she's receiving physical therapy for injuries that include spinal fractures and cracked ribs, sources said.

Kirkpatrick, who represents part of Tucson and Southeastern Arizona in CD 2, will be absent from Congress as she heads to rehab next week, she said in an announcement released by her office.

The congresswoman said she was injured in a "serious" fall and will require physical therapy, but will recover. She did not detail her injuries. Sources said that Kirkpatrick had to have a head injury stapled after being taken to a hospital after a fall in Washington, D.C., last week.

"I do, however, have another challenge I must face, which was the underlying cause of my fall. Beginning next week, I will receive treatment that I have struggled to ask for, to treat my alcohol dependence," she said.

Kirkpatrick, 69, did not disclose where she will be treated.

Kirkpatrick has been absent from the House for the past week, missing several key votes. Among them were last Thursday's vote to limit President Trump's ability to order military strikes against Iran under the War Powers Act, and Wednesday's vote to appoint House managers for Trump's impeachment trial and send the articles of impeachment to the Senate.

Kirkpatrick fell in the Washington subway while headed to the Capitol to vote on last week's measure that would have limited Trump's military authority.

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The Democrat, who previously represented CD 1 (which covers Oro Valley and parts of Marana, stretching up through Flagstaff and Northern Arizona), is up for re-election after her first term in CD 2, in what has been one of the most competitive congressional districts in the country. She bested Republican candidate Lea Marquez Peterson in 2018. The district was previously represented by Republican Martha McSally, and Democrats Ron Barber and Gabrielle Giffords.

Kirkpatrick will likely be absent from Congress for weeks, but still intends to continue her re-election bid this year.

Some of her potential GOP challengers reacted to her announcement Wednesday morning.

Candidate Shay Stautz said he and his wife "wish Ann a speedy recovery. We should all recognize it takes guts to ask for help when you need it."

Joseph Morgan said simply "I hope she gets the help she needs" in a Facebook post, while Brandon Martin said "Alcoholism is a serious disease many Americans and their families face daily in our nation. It's a difficult decision for individuals to address and admit they need help. I'm happy to hear, Mrs. Kirkpatrick, is seeking professional help to combat her illness and is taking the steps necessary to recover. I wish her, and her family the best as she begins her journey to a full recovery."

U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Tucson, applauded Kirkpatrick in a tweet "for this courageous step, and look forward to welcoming her back to Washington," while U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Prescott, said he and his wife are praying for Kirkpatrick, a one-time opponent in her former district.

"Ann’s announcement today takes a lot of courage," Gosar said.

Kirkpatrick's full statement:

I sincerely thank the many people who have reached out in support after my accident last week. The fall was serious, but with physical therapy I will fully recover. I do, however, have another challenge I must face, which was the underlying cause of my fall. Beginning next week, I will receive treatment that I have struggled to ask for, to treat my alcohol dependence.

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. 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.

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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.

I am grateful to the people of Arizona whom I am privileged to serve, my amazing staff who work tirelessly on your behalf, and my infinitely supportive and loving family.

During my absence, my congressional offices in Washington and Arizona 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.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your support.

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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

Kirkpatrick at a 2018 Democratic debate.