TORONTO - Toronto Mayor Rob Ford admitted Monday he had been in "complete denial" about his drug and alcohol abuse, but asked voters for another chance as he returned to work following a stint in rehab.
Ford, who is seeking re-election in October despite revelations that he smoked crack while in office, said he had begun "taking control" of his life, but admitted: "This is a long, long road to recovery."
"Dealing with substance abuse, I was in complete denial," Ford told reporters as he returned to work in Canada's largest city.
"I had convinced myself that I did not have a problem, but it soon became obvious that my alcohol and drug use was having a serious, serious impact on my family and on my health and on my job as mayor," he said.
"After experiencing some of the darkest moments in my life, I decided that enough was enough. I had become my own worst enemy. (...) It was time to get help -- professional help."
Ford took a leave of absence from City Hall in May, in the middle of his re-election campaign, to enter rehab after several videos surfaced over the past year showing him apparently smoking crack cocaine.
At first, Ford denied using the illegal drug, but later acknowledged he had smoked crack while in a "drunken stupor." Since then, the 45-year-old has been filmed numerous times in public behaving erratically.
Toronto's city council stripped him of most of his mayoral powers in November over his misconduct.
Ford said that during his time in rehab, he underwent "hundreds of hours of intensive therapy."
"Thanks to my treatment, I can proudly say today that I have begun the process of taking control of my life," he said.
"When I look back on some of the things I have said, and some of the things I did when I was using, I am ashamed, embarrassed and humiliated. I was wrong and i have no one but no one to blame but myself," he said, apologizing to all those he had hurt and thanking his family for giving him "another chance."
"My commitment to living clean is now unwavering."
Municipal elections in Toronto are set for October 27. So far, Ford places second or third in public opinion polls.
"With your support, I'm also resolved to continue to work harder than ever for the taxpayers of this great city," Ford pledged, in a clear plea to voters.
"My resolve as your mayor has not changed."