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Liberal MP Seamus O'Regan, seen in this October 19, 2015, file photo, says he is returning to work today after seeking treatment for an alcohol problem.

Paul Daly/THE CANADIAN PRESS

There was a deluge of social-media support - but also some pointed questions - as rookie Newfoundland MP Seamus O'Regan, a close friend of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, announced he's back to work after getting help for a drinking problem.

"Over the last year or two, alcohol was becoming a part of my daily life," O'Regan wrote in a Facebook post Monday as he turned 45.

"I regularly had several drinks at the end of most days. Sometimes more than several drinks.

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"I was still working effectively and competently, but I realized, over time, that being competent was not good enough. I was far from my best self. And the simple truth is that I owe my best self to my marriage, to my family, to my friends, and to my constituents."

O'Regan, who represents St. John's South-Mount Pearl, said he checked into a Toronto treatment facility last month after finishing work on Parliament Hill.

The former journalist and host of CTV's Canada AM said he made the decision after realizing that simply trying to drink less wasn't working.

O'Regan told CBC-TV on Monday that he first accepted that he needed to act after his closest family and friends held what he described as "an intervention" just before he sought therapy.

"Yes," he said when asked if he's an alcoholic.

"I think that, had it kept going, something would have happened that would have been embarrassing."

O'Regan also said that the aimlessness he felt after leaving CTV in 2012 led to depression, which ultimately led to drinking.

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In his Facebook post, O'Regan said he remained in treatment until a few days ago and has been sober for 40 days.

He said he feels "stronger, healthier, and more engaged" than he has in a long time.

"I have had the benefit of many hours of counselling, meditation and acquiring the tools to remain alcohol-free," he said.

The post had more than 3,700 likes on Facebook and scores of comments, the vast majority of them positive, by mid-afternoon.

Amid the wave of good wishes, however, were some questions.

A letter by Doug Smith published Monday in the St. John's Telegram asked why O'Regan didn't inform voters of his personal issues before the Oct. 19 vote. It also asks why Trudeau did not require his friend to tackle his addiction prior to becoming a candidate.

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"We're hiring a person to represent the people of Newfoundland," the retired teacher said Monday from Grand Falls-Windsor. "It's a very important job. It pays $167,000 a year. Don't you think we have a right to know he has a problem with alcohol?"

Smith does not live in O'Regan's riding and said he is a non-partisan who has voted for candidates of all political stripes.

Trudeau, who has been close friends with O'Regan for years, expressed his support when the MP announced that he was seeking help over the holiday break.

Olivier Duchesneau, a spokesperson for Trudeau, reaffirmed that backing Monday in an emailed response but did not touch on the timing of O'Regan's treatment.

Paddy Daly, host of the popular local call-in show Open Line on VOCM radio, said he was pleasantly surprised by how most people reacted since O'Regan went public.

"But despite the immediate, overwhelming support, there was always going to be a percentage of the population who would be mean-spirited and look for an opportunity to criticize Seamus," Daly said in an interview.

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Detractors who've called O'Regan a hypocrite for once mocking former Toronto mayor Rob Ford's behaviour in office go too far, Daly said. They cite, for example, a post from O'Regan in November 2013: "Rob Ford is getting 'support from a team of health-care professionals.' And that is it. That's all."

Daly said any comparison to Ford is "ridiculous."

"Seamus was not dealing with the underbelly of ... coke dealers or drinking on the job or admitting to driving drunk and smoking crack."

Former Conservative strategist Tim Powers, vice-chairman of Summa Strategies in Ottawa and a friend of O'Regan's, has this advice for critics: "Walk in another man's shoes or another woman's shoes for a day.

"There are lots of people unfortunately across this country and around the world who struggle with different challenges, alcohol or other substance abuse," he said in an interview. "They perform as best they can every day and sometimes they don't know they're sick, or they don't know they have a problem. So to expect them to admit to something that they're not admitting to themselves is a little unkind and unfair."

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