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After 4 months away, Syracuse city councilor returns from substance abuse treatment center

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media
Councilor Chad Ryan (center, left) returned to the council Wednesday.

A Syracuse common councilor, who has been absent for four months, returned to the council Wednesday. Councilor Chad Ryan said he was at a treatment center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for a severe substance abuse issue.

“When you’re living that lifestyle, you’re beholden to chemically balancing your system every day," Ryan said. "You're living this secretive life. Most of the time you’re miserable living that life.”

Ryan would not say specifically what the addiction is, but he said it has been going on for 9-10 years and it came to light last fall.

“There’s a lot of guilt and shame that goes along with addiction," Ryan said. "There’s a stigma with it and people don’t want to get out. I would encourage people to do it. Certainly in a public position, it was difficult for me to do this, to try to get out and get away.”

Ryan was first elected to the council five years ago. He said his addiction did not affect his work on the council or as a funeral director.  

“The only thing I seemed to focus on was work," Ryan said. "It was my entire identity to do that work and I didn’t enjoy anything outside of that.”

Ryan was removed as chair of the council's public works committee last month. Some at city hall speculate Ryan might not be up to perform his duties as a councilor.

“There’s tough issues but that’s why I took the job," Ryan said. "I like to have my hand in it."

Now that he’s home, Ryan said he’s continuing a treatment program. 

“I had to do it," Ryan said. "I got to own it. I made mistakes. I hope everyone can understand. I’m going to try to make up for it going forward.”

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.