New York State Senate Minority Leader John J. Flanagan (R., Suffolk County) says he will miss the start of the Legislative session in Albany as he seeks treatment for alcohol dependence.

Photo Credit: Office of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

In a statement released January 4, Senator Flanagan said:

"Recently, I recognized the need to seek some additional help to overcome my battle with alcohol dependency.  This was a difficult choice, but it is the right one for myself and for my family.  I must now make my health and well-being my number one priority."

"No man or woman is perfect, but it does not mean we all shouldn't strive for continuous and daily improvement.  I will attempt to do that with every fiber in my body.  I thank my friends and colleagues for their patience, for their love and for their understanding, and am very much looking forward to the upcoming legislative session.  This brief period of time away is necessary for my overall well-being, but will in no way impact my ability to serve my conference or my constituents."

Flanagan says the Deputy Minority Leader, Senator Joseph Griffo of Utica will oversee the Republican Conference in his absence.

Flanagan had been the Senate Leader since 2015 but the change in control of the chamber to the Democrats last fall resulted in a contest for the leadership of the new minority Republican Conference.  Flanagan narrowly beat Senator Catharine Young of Cattaragus County for the leadership role.

Incoming Majority Leader, 57th District Senator Andrea Young (D., Yonkers), wished Flanagan well and praised his courage in battling addiction:

“It takes great courage and strength to recognize when an addiction has a dangerous grip on one’s life and to seek outside help in combatting the problem. I commend Senator Flanagan for bravely choosing that path.  

Addiction is a lifelong struggle and one that must be won each and every day. My heartfelt best wishes and support are extended to him and his family at this difficult time.”

Flanagan had previously sought treatment in August 2017 and his office indicates he entered this latest program before Christmas.  The office says he is expected to be back in Albany January 21.

Flanagan has been in the state legislature for 33 years, first assuming a seat in the Assembly in 1986, following the death of his father.