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Symptoms of Withdrawal: A Memoir of…
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Symptoms of Withdrawal: A Memoir of Snapshots and Redemption (2005)

by Christopher Kennedy Lawford

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“Experience, strength and hope” is a mantra frequently heard in the rooms of recovery, and Chris Lawford’s Symptoms of Withdrawal, certainly offers a great deal of all three. Each time an addict or alcoholic goes to the front of the room to tell their story, they are asked to cover three important areas – What we were like, what happened, and what we were like now. Much like the pirate’s code, they more guidelines really, rather than what you would call rules. Each addict telling their story must decide for themselves where the line is drawn that separates an honest portrayal of their experience of addiction from euphoric recall. The geography of Mr. Lawford’s line made me uncomfortable.
Though uncomfortable, I was renewed by the story of Mr. Lawford’s struggle. I was especially pleased that he acknowledged his own character flaws that continued to plague his life in sobriety, as they do for all who are addicted, myself included. Self-honesty, humility, and the willingness to learn, are traits that all must possess in one form or another to live sober one day at a time, and I believe that his naked reality of life in recovery is a real blessing found in this book.
I got the book a few months ago when Mr. Lawford spoke to a group in Knoxville dedicated to working with the mentally ill and addicted. I was impressed by his passion for helping other get recovery. He was talking about a very small gain that had occurred in the United Nation’s recognition of addiction as a disease. This is a conclusion reached by the AMA in the 1950’s. Despite the fact that it took over 50 years to gain this one step, Mr. Lawford talked of the minute progress as though it matched the achievement of landing on the moon.
It was an blessing to read his story and how he has learned to intuitively hand situations which used to baffle him. I think if you read Symptoms of Withdrawal, you too will be less baffled and walk away from the experience with strength and hope. ( )
  lanewillson | Mar 4, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060732482, Hardcover)

Born into enormous privilege as well as burdened by gut-wrenching family tragedy, Christopher Kennedy Lawford now shares his life story, offering a rare glimpse into the private worlds of the rich and famous of both Washington politics and the Hollywood elite. A triumphantly inspiring memoir, the first from a Kennedy family member since Rose Kennedy's 1974 autobiography, Lawford's Symptoms of Withdrawal tells the bittersweet truth about life inside America's greatest family legacy.

As the firstborn child of famed Rat Pack actor Peter Lawford and Patricia Kennedy, sister to John F. Kennedy, Christopher Kennedy Lawford grew up with presidents and movie stars as close relatives and personal friends.

Lawford recalls Marilyn Monroe teaching him to dance the twist in his living room when he was still a toddler, being awakened late at night by his uncle Jack to hear him announce his candidacy for president, being perched atop a high-roller craps table in Las Vegas while Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack swapped jokes and threw dice, and other treasured memories of his youth as part of America's royal family.

In spite of this seemingly idyllic childhood, Lawford's early life was marked by the traumatic assassinations of his beloved uncles Jack and Bobby, and he soon succumbed to the burgeoning drug scene of the 1970s during his teen years. With compelling realism mixed with equal doses of self-deprecating wit, youthful bravado, and hard-earned humility, Symptoms of Withdrawal chronicles Lawford's deep and long descent into near-fatal drug and alcohol addiction, and his subsequent formidable path back to the sobriety he has preserved for the past twenty years.

Symptoms of Withdrawal is a poignantly honest portrayal of Lawford's life as a Kennedy, a journey overflowing with hilarious insider anecdotes, heartbreaking accounts of Lawford's addictions to narcoticsas well as to celebrity and, ultimately, the redemption he found by asserting his own independence.

In this groundbreakingly courageous and exceptionally well-written memoir, Lawford steps forward to rise above the buried pain that first led to his addiction, and today lives mindfully by his time-tested mantra: "We are only as sick as the secrets we keep." Symptoms of Withdrawal keeps no secrets and is a compelling testament to the power of truth.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:42:27 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The son of actor Peter Lawford and JFK's sister, Patricia, describes his privileged childhood alongside the offspring of other famous celebrities and politicians and his struggles with alcohol and heroin addiction.

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