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Though Christopher Kennedy Lawford spent 20 years in the film and television industries as an actor, lawyer, executive, and producer, his biggest challenge was his 10-year-struggle against addiction. During his journey, he realized that conventional approaches to treating drug abuse simply provided little understanding of the true nature of addiction and how to enhance recovery. In rethinking his own rehabilitation, he was able to transform his mindset and life, and today campaigns tirelessly on behalf of the recovery community in both the public and private sectors.

Mr. Lawford currently works with the United Nations, the Canadian Center on Substance Abuse, the White House Office on Drug Control Policy, and the World Health Organization. Additionally, he consults with Fortune 500 companies and numerous non-profit groups, speaking around the world on issues related to addiction, mental health, and hepatitis C.

Mr. Lawford is the author of three New York Times bestsellers that put addiction in a new light while offering practical solutions to recovering addicts and their loved ones. He aims to effect change and raise global awareness of addiction in nonprofit, private, and government circles through both his writing and speaking.

Full Profile

Christopher as an Author
In his 2005 New York Times bestselling memoir, Symptoms of Withdrawal, Christopher Kennedy Lawford chronicled his deep descent into near-fatal drug and alcohol addiction, and his subsequent hard-won journey back to sobriety, which he has maintained for the past 24 years with the hopes of making a difference. The overwhelming response received to his book impressed upon Lawford the number of people struggling to find their own way back from addiction and the need to share their stories, which led to the development of Moment of Clarity: Voices From the Front Lines of Addiction and Recovery.

In 2009, The New York Times bestseller Moments of Clarity was released which illuminates the spiritual epiphanies that occur in 44 people’s lives enabling them to move from addiction to recovery and the A-ha moments that got them there. Mr. Lawford has a novel in the works focusing on the relationship between men and women.

Christopher as an Activist
Christopher Kennedy Lawford has spent much of his life in Hollywood and Washington, navigating these two worlds as an actor, writer, lawyer, activist and public speaker. However, before his successes, Lawford battled a drug and alcohol addiction for much of his early life. In recovery for more than 24 years, he shares his experience, strength and hope to make a difference in people’s lives. As a result of his drug addiction, Mr. Lawford was diagnosed with hepatitis C in 2000. He was successfully treated and is now virus free. For the past five years he has worked with a number of partners in private industry, the non-profit sector, state and federal governments and patient advocacy groups to effect change and raise awareness about these two pressing public health issues. Presently Mr. Lawford is working with the United Nations, the Canadian Center on Substance Abuse, and the World Health Organization in efforts to raise awareness globally about addiction and hepatitis.

Mr. Lawford has extensive experience in the non-profit sector working with a variety of organizations including: Caron Treatment Centers, California Hepatitis Alliance, The Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation, Special Olympics, The Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, and was recently appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to the California Public Health Advisory Committee. Mr. Lawford spends much of his time speaking globally in support of these issues. His political resume includes executive staff positions with The Democratic National Committee, The Community Action for Legal Services Agency and in the Washington office of Senator Edward M. Kennedy. He has also held staff positions on numerous national, state and local political campaigns.

Christopher as an Actor
Mr. Lawford spent over fifteen years in the film and television business as an actor, lawyer, executive, and producer. He began his career in Universal Studios’ Independent Film Acquisitions where he was responsible for the acquisition of American Graffiti, one of the highest grossing films of the early 70’s. As an independent producer Mr. Lawford arranged financing for and produced films including Kiss Me Guido & Drunks, both films were selections in the Sundance Film Festival. Mr. Lawford’s acting credits include Eavesdrop, Slipstream, The World’s Fastest Indian, Terminator 3, Blankman, The Doors, The Russia House, and many others. His credits also include a three-year tenure on the popular soap opera All My Children.


Christopher Kennedy Lawford Speaker Videos Back to top

Christopher Kennedy Lawford Speech


Christopher Kennedy Lawford shares several little known facts about addiction that he never learned until he found his own life spinning out of control due to substance abuse. Still stigmatized and rampantly misunderstood, addiction is classified as a brain disorder along with other mental illnesses and over 34 million addicts go untreated each year. Cases in the U.S. alone cost the country $600 billion per year.

He discusses the most recent research delving into the root causes of addiction and how a new understanding of it that can lead to better treatment of a complex condition. “The pathology of addiction manifests in multiple abuses,” he states, clarifying that the condition is “not just bad behavior,” but “a primary chronic brain disease.”

Keynote Speech


Christopher Kennedy Lawford: The Q & A Café with Carol Joynt


Christopher Kennedy Lawford: My Mission, Focus & Expertise



Speeches / Speaking Engagements Back to top


Christopher Kennedy Lawford uses his personal experience and the latest research to speak honestly about the nature of addiction and overcoming the obstacles to recovery. He challenges conventional thoughts on substance abuse and treatment, noting that Recovery is not just about staying away from a drink, drug or behavior a day at a time but is also about restoring and enhancing the lives of those affected as well as the lives of those around them while working through their own character flaws.

Mr. Lawford shows that the human brain has a magnificent capacity to relearn and change as he empowers audiences to form new habits, life skills, and a fresh outlook on their abilities to accomplish great things. His powerful presentation and heartfelt words provide an unforgettable and informative experience to a variety of audiences. His solution based approach is ideal for:

Public officials, Civic Leaders, Employers, Healthcare Professions, Educators, Community Leaders, Media, Faith based Communities, Law Enforcements Authorities, Local Treatment Providers, Families and Adolescents, Individuals in Recovery

Some of the topics he discusses include, but are not limited to the following:

Alcohol and Substance Abuse
With a compelling mix of personal experience and hard-earned humility, Lawford utilized his real-life experiences to focus on a number of topics, illuminating the disease of addiction, the protocol for treatment, and the path to self-discovery, personal growth.

    • Overview of Addiction and Recovery Process
    • Afraid to Live, Afraid to Die
    • Moment of Clarity
    • "I Stopped Using, Now What?"
    • A New Way of Life
    • Spirit and Recovery
    • Relapse Prevention
    • Action Following Recognition

Public Policy

    • Reinvigorate the Conversation of Addiction
    • Societies Reaction to the Disease & Breaking the Barriers of Stigma

Empowering Youth for Prevention

    • Believe in Themselves & Their Potential
    • Change Their Thought Process
    • Make Informed Choices
    • Realize the Impact on Decisions Made During This Period in Life
    • Discriminate Between Normal Adolescent Alcohol Use & True Addiction

Family and Addiction

    • End Broken Promises, Mend Broken Hearts
    • Living with an Addict
    • Value of the Parent/Child Bond

Healing Hepatitis C
It is estimated that over 4 million Americans and approximately 170 million persons worldwide have been exposed to Hepatitis C, and that the majority are unaware of their exposure. Chris Lawford, was one of these Americans unknowingly contracting the Hepatitis C virus during his years of drug use and had been sober for 14 years when he was diagnosed and successfully treated in 2001.

As a National spokesperson for the Hepatitis C Public Awareness Campaign, Lawford walks his audience through the process of facing the diagnosis and treatment head-on, showing them that "It is possible to get through this Hepatitis C thing—to be cured of it—without surrendering your life to it."

Patients

    • Get Tested, Get Treated, & Get Cured
    • What to Expect During Treatment
    • How to Communicate with Your Physician
    • Finding the Support Needed
    • Facing Fears & Frustrations
    • Confronting the Stigma & Misfortunes

Advocacy

    • Surveillance, Prevention & Treatment for All of Our Citizens
    • Hepatitis C Has A Cure

Motivation/Inspiration
Lawford provides a poignant and raw reflection on the universal struggle to make sense of the world and one’s place in it while illuminating the human journey and looking to make sense of our individual and unique place. Lawford said in his bestselling memoir Symptoms of Withdrawal "The key to real happiness is recognizing that all of us are pretty much the same. The human hardwiring isn’t really that different from person to person. What’s different are our individual circumstances. Our challenge is to those reconcile circumstances with our common humanity."

Inspiration

  • Find & Enhance Your Unique Spirit
  • Overcoming a Lifetime of Condition
  • Understand Where You’ve Been & Where You Have to Go
  • Awaken Your Passion, Purpose & Potential
  • Turning Defects into Assets
  • Stretch outside Your Comfort Zone
  • Pain & Hardship as Touchstone for Spiritual Growth
  • Your Outlook Determines Your Outcome
  • Finding Purpose in Your Life... Moving from Narcissism to Service

Youth

    • Resiliency in the Face of Diversity
    • Feelings Aren’t Facts
    • Recognizing the Signs of an Adolescents Downward Spiral
    • Privilege Isn't All That It's Cracked Up To Be
    • Overcoming Peer Pressure & Celebrating Individuality

Business

    • Economics of Lost Productivity in the Work Place
    • Recognizing Substance Abuse Disorders in the Workplace & How to Intervene
    • Creating a Culture of Care in the Workplace


Christopher Kennedy Lawford Speaker Testimonials Back to top

"I'm pleased to say that St. Jude's fundraising event drew over 300 people and matched our fundraising goals. The Board, staff and guests were very pleased; everyone thought Chris did a great job. On a personal note, and having worked with some high-maintenamce speakers, I thought he was terrific to work with and really enjoyed meeting him. His presentation was very well received."
    St. Jude's Recovery Center, (Event booked by Speaking.com)

"The conference went over very well. The audience really liked Christopher's presentation and had many positive comments. Christopher is very nice to work with and would definitely invite him to another event."
    American Liver Foundation, (Event booked by Speaking.com)

"Chris did an outstanding job! He really connected emotionally with the audience and was very gracious."
    Liberation Programs, (Event booked by Speaking.com)

"Chris is a master of words and uses them in an eloquent and humorous fashion allowing the audience to feel the pain and enjoy his successes with him. He is among the very best speakers we have had."
    Vista Hill




* Please note that while this speaker’s specific speaking fee falls within the range posted above (for Continental U.S. based events), fees are subject to change. For current fee information or international event fees (which are generally 50-75% more than U.S based event fees), please contact us.

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"I'm pleased to say that St. Jude's fundraising event drew over 300 people and matched our fundraising goals. The Board, staff and guests were very pleased; everyone thought Chris did a great job. On a personal note, and having worked with some high-maintenamce speakers, I thought he was terrific to work with and really enjoyed meeting him. His presentation was very well received."
    St. Jude's Recovery Center, (Event booked by Speaking.com)

"The conference went over very well. The audience really liked Christopher's presentation and had many positive comments. Christopher is very nice to work with and would definitely invite him to another event."
    American Liver Foundation, (Event booked by Speaking.com)

"Chris did an outstanding job! He really connected emotionally with the audience and was very gracious."
    Liberation Programs, (Event booked by Speaking.com)

"Chris is a master of words and uses them in an eloquent and humorous fashion allowing the audience to feel the pain and enjoy his successes with him. He is among the very best speakers we have had."
    Vista Hill


Symptoms of Withdrawal: A Memoir of Snapshots and Redemption
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 apoignantly honest portrayal of Lawford's life as a Kennedy, a journey overflowing with hilarious insider anecdotes, heartbreaking accounts of Lawford's addictions to narcotics as 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.


Moments of Clarity: Voices from the Front Lines of Addiction and Recovery
On February 17, 1986, after years of addiction and self-destruction, Christopher Kennedy Lawford reached a turning point in his life, one that would mark the beginning of his long road to recovery. In his New York Times bestselling memoir, Symptoms of Withdrawal, he chronicled his deep descent into near-fatal drug and alcohol addiction, and his subsequent hard-won journey back to sobriety, which he has maintained for more than twenty years. The Before and the After. But before and after what? What happened at that point in time to trigger the understanding within himself that he had to change? What finally forces any person to choose life over death?

The overwhelming response he received to his book impressed upon Lawford the number of people struggling to find their own way back from addiction and the need to share their stories. There was no easy way out for any of them. They all had to go through a moment of humility, vulnerability, and transformation and choose to take that first step of the journey. And each had their own intensely personal moment that signaled a Before and an After. The histories gathered here are the recollections of lives snatched back from the brink of a precipice so wide and deep it threatened to engulf them.

Every segment of society has been touched by addiction and its aftermath. Moments of Clarity collects stories from men and women, young and old, and across all barriers of celebrity, color, and class. Represented in these pages are the singer and the actress, the writer and the anchorman, the man from the movie screen and the woman who lives down the street. A myriad of different moments but all with the common understanding of where these men and women have been and where they must go. As they bravely share their stories, they shed light not only on their own experiences but also on the journey we all take as human beings, looking to make sense of our world.


Alcohol and Substance Abuse
With a compelling mix of personal experience and hard-earned humility, Lawford utilized his real-life experiences to focus on a number of topics, illuminating the disease of addiction, the protocol for treatment, and the path to self-discovery, personal growth.

    • Overview of Addiction and Recovery Process
    • Afraid to Live, Afraid to Die
    • Moment of Clarity
    • "I Stopped Using, Now What?"
    • A New Way of Life
    • Spirit and Recovery
    • Relapse Prevention
    • Action Following Recognition

Public Policy

    • Reinvigorate the Conversation of Addiction
    • Societies Reaction to the Disease & Breaking the Barriers of Stigma

Empowering Youth for Prevention

    • Believe in Themselves & Their Potential
    • Change Their Thought Process
    • Make Informed Choices
    • Realize the Impact on Decisions Made During This Period in Life
    • Discriminate Between Normal Adolescent Alcohol Use & True Addiction

Family and Addiction

    • End Broken Promises, Mend Broken Hearts
    • Living with an Addict
    • Value of the Parent/Child Bond

Healing Hepatitis C
It is estimated that over 4 million Americans and approximately 170 million persons worldwide have been exposed to Hepatitis C, and that the majority are unaware of their exposure. Chris Lawford, was one of these Americans unknowingly contracting the Hepatitis C virus during his years of drug use and had been sober for 14 years when he was diagnosed and successfully treated in 2001.

As a National spokesperson for the Hepatitis C Public Awareness Campaign, Lawford walks his audience through the process of facing the diagnosis and treatment head-on, showing them that "It is possible to get through this Hepatitis C thing—to be cured of it—without surrendering your life to it."

Patients

    • Get Tested, Get Treated, & Get Cured
    • What to Expect During Treatment
    • How to Communicate with Your Physician
    • Finding the Support Needed
    • Facing Fears & Frustrations
    • Confronting the Stigma & Misfortunes

Advocacy

    • Surveillance, Prevention & Treatment for All of Our Citizens
    • Hepatitis C Has A Cure

Motivation/Inspiration
Lawford provides a poignant and raw reflection on the universal struggle to make sense of the world and one’s place in it while illuminating the human journey and looking to make sense of our individual and unique place. Lawford said in his bestselling memoir Symptoms of Withdrawal "The key to real happiness is recognizing that all of us are pretty much the same. The human hardwiring isn’t really that different from person to person. What’s different are our individual circumstances. Our challenge is to those reconcile circumstances with our common humanity."

Inspiration

  • Find & Enhance Your Unique Spirit
  • Overcoming a Lifetime of Condition
  • Understand Where You’ve Been & Where You Have to Go
  • Awaken Your Passion, Purpose & Potential
  • Turning Defects into Assets
  • Stretch outside Your Comfort Zone
  • Pain & Hardship as Touchstone for Spiritual Growth
  • Your Outlook Determines Your Outcome
  • Finding Purpose in Your Life... Moving from Narcissism to Service

Youth

    • Resiliency in the Face of Diversity
    • Feelings Aren’t Facts
    • Recognizing the Signs of an Adolescents Downward Spiral
    • Privilege Isn't All That It's Cracked Up To Be
    • Overcoming Peer Pressure & Celebrating Individuality

Business

    • Economics of Lost Productivity in the Work Place
    • Recognizing Substance Abuse Disorders in the Workplace & How to Intervene
    • Creating a Culture of Care in the Workplace


Christopher Kennedy Lawford Speech


Christopher Kennedy Lawford shares several little known facts about addiction that he never learned until he found his own life spinning out of control due to substance abuse. Still stigmatized and rampantly misunderstood, addiction is classified as a brain disorder along with other mental illnesses and over 34 million addicts go untreated each year. Cases in the U.S. alone cost the country $600 billion per year.

He discusses the most recent research delving into the root causes of addiction and how a new understanding of it that can lead to better treatment of a complex condition. “The pathology of addiction manifests in multiple abuses,” he states, clarifying that the condition is “not just bad behavior,” but “a primary chronic brain disease.”

Keynote Speech


Christopher Kennedy Lawford: The Q & A Café with Carol Joynt


Christopher Kennedy Lawford: My Mission, Focus & Expertise