Christopher Lawford Interview

Video length: 5:59

Transcript

Lawford speaking:

It's been my life. And it's been my life generationally too.

I mean as we know, this thing runs in families, and it ran in mine.

And, you know, it's interesting because nowadays we got a lot of different kinds of things you can get addicted to, a lot of different substances, and you know, back in the fifties, it was alcohol... for the most part.

There has always been drugs, but the prevalence, and I grew up in that. I grew up in an alcoholic culture at home and pretty much the environments I was in.

I've learned so much about this illness.

And, what's amazing to me is that more people in our world don't know that much about this illness considering the prevalence and considering the destruction in families and in our society, just rampant.

And of course, I went through my struggles for seventeen years.

And I tried for ten of those years to transcend that, to find recovery.

It took me ten years, and I had all the resources. I had all of the experts.

I had the best science at the time, the best doctors at the time.

I was at Harvard and Yale and people that, you know, nothing could be done.

The message that I have for people who are struggling, and who are relapsing, and who are, who are, one step forward, two steps back, that kind of thing is

First of all, people ask me all the time what I did right?  And I say two things, I say I didn't die, and I always had a desire to get well.

And if you have that, my belief is, you will find your way. It will take time. This is a difficult thing to do, but you're worth it.

What I tell families, and often is, I tell them throw the rope, don't get in the water.

And what that means is, take care of yourself, because this is a family illness.

Often times in families, your dealing with a situation where everybody's looking at the alcoholic or the addict as the problem.

It's a systemic problem. And often times, I've seen this many many times, a family member who gets healthy, who's not the family member with the problem, changes everything, because it is, it's a system.

And often times, the family is the only place where we can institutionalize the kinds of things that we know work.

Which are, you know, which are, basically love, you know, monitor, consequences.

Families have to set boundaries. We don't accept, we cannot, as a healthy person I will not accept unacceptable behavior.

If you are living with me, you have to treat your disease. If you are not treating your disease, you cannot live here. I will not support your disease. I will support your efforts at recovery.

What I will tell you is in terms of the United States of America, and the world really in terms of this disease is that it doesn't get the attention it deserves.

And, there is a number of reasons for that. I mean there is this stigma that people go, "Well, it's their fault, and we shouldn't have to deal with that."

And nobody really believes it's a disease, because there's volition. I know how difficult it, these reward systems in the brain, what happens in an addicts essence.

That means that they will do anything for that relief. People who go through this struggle and live to tell their story have a lot to give the world.

In terms of their experience and their wisdom. I mean we live in a crazy, crazy world. And people who go through this, and go through, I mean it's not just drug addiction.

You know people have gone through this in lots of things.

My uncle, President Kennedy, used to... he read all of the time because he was sick. And he died many many, he almost died many many times from his back and from his illnesses.

And he was a very sickly guy, and he spent all of his time reading books, and he loved biographies.

And I grew up with this thing that was his, that all men who achieve good things in this world, overcome something. They all do. Men and women.

And that's what addicts and alcoholics have to give. And they... you know, this is a, I have a message of empowerment.

Not just that you can do this, and you must take control of your addiction.

And that may be that you falter and relapse as a part of all that, but you are empowered to do that, and you can do that.