NY Sen. Majority Leader John Flanagan Sought Help For Alcoholism

By Britni de la Cretaz 08/08/17

Flanagan's treatment announcement has been met with a wave of support from his political peers.

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New York Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan
New York Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan Photo via YouTube

The Republican leader of the State Senate, John J. Flanagan, released a statement on Sunday announcing that he had sought treatment for an alcohol problem, the New York Times reports. In the brief statement, Sen. Flanagan said that drinking “was becoming a crutch to deal with pressure I was under related to my responsibilities as majority leader” and that he “proactively took control of the situation” by deciding to get help.

Where and when Sen. Flanagan sought treatment was not disclosed, nor did he indicate how long the program was. “I would hope my actions serve as a reminder to all those who find that alcohol has become a means to confront personal or professional stress,” he said. “It never has been and never will be.”

The public reaction to Sen. Flanagan’s disclosure has been one of support. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo tweeted, “Alcoholism is a disease. @LeaderFlanagan deserves our respect & support for seeking help & for talking about it as an example for others.” The Mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, tweeted his support as well, saying, “NY Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan is setting a brave example by getting help. We stand beside him in full support.”

Chirlane McCray, de Blasio’s wife and the First Lady of New York City, tweeted, “Addiction is not a battle you have to fight alone. We applaud Majority Leader John Flanagan. Reach out to 1-888-NYC-Well if you need help.”

His statement indicated that he decided to seek treatment in order to ensure that his alcohol dependency didn’t affect his ability to do his job or serve his constituents. Sen. Flanagan explained that getting help was “a step I needed to take for myself and for my family, and it will allow me to continue to serve and to give back to my community and state.”

He has been a member of the New York State Senate since he was first elected in 2002 and was elected to serve as Temporary President and Majority Leader in 2015 following the arrest of Dean G. Skelos on federal corruption charges. 

Sen. Flanagan also made sure to take the opportunity to point out that addiction can affect anyone, regardless of their status in life. “No one,” he said, “is immune.” He also encouraged anyone who might be struggling with dependency to seek help. He stressed the importance of being proactive about addressing the problem, saying, “you… have a responsibility to your family and colleagues to recognize [the problem].”

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Britni de la Cretaz is a freelance writer, baseball enthusiast, and recovered alcoholic living in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @britnidlc.

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