MP Seamus O'Regan, 40 days sober, says it took an intervention to recognize his alcohol problem
Liberal MP elected in October checked into wellness program over holidays
Seamus O'Regan, Liberal MP for St. John's South-Mount Pearl, opened up about his struggle with alcoholism Monday, after announcing on social media that he's "40 days alcohol free" following time at a wellness centre.
"You come to a point where you think you're totally in control of something, and you realize you're not," he told CBC's David Cochrane.
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"I realize that I was competent, I was doing a good job, but I was nowhere near my best self. I was nowhere near the man I needed to be."
I felt for sure I had all of this under control and I realized I didn't.- Seamus O'Regan , Liberal MP
O'Regan said he recognizes now that he's an alcoholic, but didn't realize he had a problem until his family and friends staged an intervention.
"Your friends, your family they come together and they say, you know what, you need to get better, you're not 100 per cent at all. And I wasn't," he said.
O'Regan said he was initially reluctant to enter a wellness program because he didn't think he needed that kind of help.
"I felt for sure I had all of this under control and I realized I didn't," he said.
"And I realized more importantly that it was OK and in actual fact it was kind of liberating to say, yeah I need help. I need to get away, and I need to really concentrate on getting well."
Didn't recognize problem
O'Regan first mentioned problems with alcohol when he took to Twitter two weeks ago to announce he had entered a wellness facility over the holidays.
O'Regan said Monday he underwent hours of counselling and meditation since entering treatment on Dec. 11 — the last day Parliament sat. While other MPs flew home for the holidays, O'Regan said he took a direct flight to Toronto to attend a 45-day program, spending Christmas and New Year's in treatment.
I think that had it kept going, something would have happened that might have been embarrassing at best case.- MP Seamus O'Regan
The rookie MP said he didn't mention his alcoholism during the federal election campaign because he didn't recognize he had a problem.
"I was honest with the people of my constituency the moment that I was honest with myself," he said.
"When I came to grips with this as a problem that I had to confront, I went public with it ... Going into the election, I didn't think it was an issue, then afterwards I realized yes, it was a fundamental issue."
Problems began while looking for work
In hindsight, O'Regan said his problems with alcohol began when he was looking for work after his time at CTV.
"The financial instability and just the instability of looking for work can be very very stressful for anybody. It was on me," he said, adding that he became "incredibly anxious" and depressed during that time.
"I didn't realize how tied in alcohol would be and I didn't realize that drinking had scaled up for me. I was no longer drinking having a good time, which I always enjoyed doing ... Suddenly it was something that I had alone at home to wind down. And that can accelerate."
Spoke to Trudeau about problem
O'Regan said that several people spoke to him about his issues with alcohol, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He said that while he didn't have any particular low points during his struggle with alcohol, he worries things could have gotten worse.
"I think that had it kept going, something would have happened that might have been embarrassing at best case," he said.
O'Regan said he's feeling better than ever, but is going to take it one day at a time.
"When it sinks in that people have put their trust in you, as the people of St. John's South-Mount Pearl have for me, then you really owe it to them to be your best self," he said.
"In a way, it's almost a relief that it's so public, because that option's no longer open to you. In a strange way,I actually find it quite liberating because this is not a battle that I have to fight internally."
The House of Commons resumes sitting on Jan. 25.