Kitty Dukakis discusses alcoholism


BOSTON -- Kitty Dukakis refused Thursday to blame her husband's rough and tumble White House campaign against President Bush for alcoholism problems that sent her to a treatment center for 31 days.

'Any crisis could have led to the drinking,' the wife of Gov. Michael S. Dukakis said. 'The campaign was a very positive experience for me. The only thing that happened wrong was that we lost.'


In her first public appearance since her release Tuesday from Edgehill Newport, Mrs. Dukakis, 52, said the alcoholism problem showed she did not learn her lesson from a 26-year dependency on diet pills that she disclosed early in the 1988 campaign.

'One of the lessons I didn't learn is that once one is dependent, a drug or a drink in whatever form cannot be used a day at a time and that is why I had a relapse in November, this time in the form of alcohol abuse.'


In a statement announcing her Feb. 5 admission, Governor Dukakis attributed the drinking problems to 'physicial exhaustion, the stress of the campaign effort and the post-election let down.'

A subdued Kitty Dukakis, who described the period prior to her decision to seek treatment as 'terribly painful and lonely,' asked for respect for her privacy in following a detailed recovery program that will include Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

'When you're a public person you accept that there are going to be questions about your personal and private life,' she said. 'That is one of the things that I accept. But I do know ... that I must be free to practice those lessons and use those tools privately.'

The governor, who stood in the background through much of the 30-minute news conference, repeated his support for his wife's ordeal.

'Kitty is the dearest thing in my life,' he said. 'If anything, we're even closer today than we were two months ago. We'll all take this thing one day at a time.'

The governor, who announced in January that he would not seek a fourth term, said his wife's recovery would guide his future personal plans.

The in-patient treatment was the the second for Mrs. Dukakis, long seen as the emotional opposite to her cool, reserved husband. She entered a Minnesota clinic in 1982 for a 26-year amphetamine addiction, treatment first disclosed publicly last year.


It was that treatment, rather than a specific incident, that convinced her to seek help.

'I'm not sure it was any light that went off,' she said.

She suggested alcoholism can progress more rapidly in women than men. In response to questions, she complained that women are force to bear a heavier burden.

'Men and women share many of the same pieces of the dependency. Women are particularly stigmatized, whether they're in politics or not. We've come a long way. We've got a long way to go.'

Mrs. Dukakis she would continue a public speaking schedule that would include 'generic' discussion about chemical dependence. She also will continue writing a book on her campaign trail experiences.

She also admitted to one remaining addiction -- a highly public battle with cigarettes.

'One step at a time,' she said.

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