(CNN) - U.S. Rep. Trey Radel, R-Florida, returned to work on Capitol Hill Tuesday for the first time after pleading guilty to cocaine possession last November.
He repeatedly apologized for his actions and insisted he's not yet thinking about re-election to another term.
"I cannot express how sorry I am. I ask for your forgiveness. I've let down our entire country. I have let down my colleagues on both side of the aisle. I've let down my family," an emotional Radel said in a brief session with reporters in his office on Capitol Hill, his voice often halting.
Radel, who was known for his casual demeanor and his accessibility to reporters, appeared stoic and stuck with a serious message that he wanted to earn back his reputation, which was crushed by his bust in an undercover sting last fall.
The former television anchor avoided cameras and national media and made a brief statement inside his office, with his aides insisting his comments be off-camera.
"In front of a U.S. Representative's name, they often put the word 'honorable,' and I will work hard every day to restore that honor - rebuilding trust and making amends, with our country, my constituents, my colleagues, my wife and my 2-year-old."
Radel flatly declared that "re-election is the absolute last thing on my mind." But he'll need to address questions about his political future soon. According to the Tampa Bay Times, former state representative Paige Kreegel announced he will challenge Radel in the GOP primary in August.
Radel told reporters he hasn't talked to House Speaker John Boehner since he completed his treatment program for substance abuse in Florida, but he said he has a meeting scheduled with Boehner later this week.
Although he declined to detail his treatment plans while he is serving in Washington, Radel made several references suggesting he was participating in a 12-step program created by Alcoholics Anonymous. Although Radel was arrested for drug possession last fall, he said afterward that his bigger struggle was with alcohol abuse.
"I have an incredible network both at home and right here in Washington, and this is something I will continue to work on for the rest of my life. I will take it one day at a time, and in doing so, I hope to rebuild and regain trust one day at a time," Radel said.
CNN's Paul Courson contributed to this report