ALBANY – New York’s top Republican leader Sunday acknowledged he recently underwent rehab for alcohol dependency.
Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, R-Suffolk County, said he sought help so his job and family would not be negatively affected.
"Recently, I recognized that alcohol was becoming a crutch to deal with pressure I was under related to my responsibilities as majority leader of the New York State Senate," he said in a statement.
"Therefore, I proactively took control of the situation and sought immediate help so I could overcome it and move forward."
Flanagan heads the 32-member Senate Republican conference, and he has been its leader since 2015, succeeding Sen. Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, who was charged and later convicted in a corruption scandal.
Flanagan, 56, said he sought help "to ensure this dependency would not affect my ability to do my job or represent my constituents or the members of our Senate Republican majority."
The announcement comes after the six-month legislative session ended in late June. The next session is slated to start in January.
Senators are also gearing up for re-election next year in the closely divided chamber, where the GOP holds just a one-seat majority because Sen. Simcha Felder, a Brooklyn Democrat, sits with the conference.
Flanagan earlier this year said he was considering a run for governor next year against Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Flanagan, who is married with three children, said his help for alcohol dependency was important for him, his family and his career in public service.
Flanagan, a former Assemblyman who has served in the Senate since 2003, is one of the "three men in a room" with the Assembly speaker and governor who negotiate the state budget each year and key legislation.
"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," his statement continued.
He encouraged others who deal with dependency to seek help.
"If you find yourself becoming dependent you not only have a responsibility to your family and colleagues to recognize it, but to proactively engage the programs that are in place that will help you," he said.
"No one is immune. Seek help and regain your personal pathway through life."
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