'Recover to Live': Book describes how to fight addiction

JFK's nephews describe how they battled substance abuse


This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," January 07, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: "Personal Story" segment tonight, a book called "Recover to Live, Kick Any Habit, Manage Any Addiction." According to the Department of Health and Human Services, it's estimated that seven percent of all the American population is addicted to either drugs or alcohol.

And that would be more than 20 million folks. Two of those caught in the hellish world of addiction will join us momentarily.

Christopher Kennedy Lawford, the son of actor, Peter Lawford, and nephew of President John F. Kennedy began using drugs in his early teens.

For 17 years, he was addicted to heroin, alcohol and cocaine before getting clean. Next month will mark 27 years of sobriety for Mr. Lawford.

His cousin, Patrick Kennedy, son of Senator Edward Kennedy, served in Congress for 16 years but also had drug and alcohol problems. He has now been clean since 2009.

With us now are Christopher Kennedy Lawford who wrote the affirmation book, "Recover to Live" and Patrick Kennedy who wrote the introduction to that book.

All right, Mr. Lawford. First, you, what made you stop. Seventeen years is a long time of intoxication.

CHRISTOPHER KENNEDY LAWFORD, AUTHOR, "RECOVER TO LIVE": Yes, it is. I tried for 10 years. And I tried everything humanly possible to overcome this illness. And I did it at 30.

It took that long. I had desire, I had resources and it still took me that long.

O'REILLY: Why did it take you so long. Your father was an alcoholic, I guess, right. He was addicted --

LAWFORD: He died of alcoholism. He's --

O'REILLY: Right, cirrhosis. Why did it take you so long to get off the stuff.

LAWFORD: I don't know. It's really -- it's that difficult a thing. I think the evidence shows today, the earlier you intervene in somebody's life, the better chance of you have of changing trajectory.

That's why it's important that parents intervene early in their children's lives if there's a genetic predisposition.

O'REILLY: Can you think back on a time where you said, "Look, I don't want to do this anymore. This is is wrecking my body." --

LAWFORD: Absolutely. O'REILLY: I mean -- and Mr. Lawford goes through it in the book -- it wrecks his body, it wrecks his social -- you know, relationships with people.

LAWFORD: I was fairly functional, Bill. I went to law school. I went to college. I got a master's certification from Harvard Medical School.

But the point was, I was -- this disease is really difficult. You have to change everything in your life.

O'REILLY: All right. But you decided you wanted to but still couldn't do it.

LAWFORD: That's right. That's right.

O'REILLY: I couldn't stay stopped.

O'REILLY: You couldn't stop.

LAWFORD: I could take for a little while. I could stop for a little while and then I'd use again. And this is the problem --

O'REILLY: Was there a trigger mechanism.

LAWFORD: Well, there's lots of triggers, and there's cravings, and there's and all sorts of things. This is the nature of this illness.

O'REILLY: All right. We'll get back to how you kicked it in a moment. Now, you, Mr. Kennedy, were in the House, you know, high-pressured job. Everybody is looking at you. But you're bombed half the time, right.

PATRICK KENNEDY, FORMER CONGRESSMAN, RHODE ISLAND (D): I had a lot of problems managing my life. And, of course, if you're an addict, you manage your life by consuming drugs and alcohol to help you manage the stress.

O'REILLY: All right. Was this trying to deaden some pain or something in you.

KENNEDY: No. I mean, these are -- you have a physical compulsion, an allergy to drugs and alcohol that makes makes it impossible for you to put them down once you've ingested them.

O'REILLY: All right. But you have to still go and seek them and get them.

KENNEDY: That's right. That's --

O'REILLY: And you knew, Mr. Lawford and some of your other relatives had problems with all of this stuff.


O'REILLY: You knew all of that but you still went to get it.

KENNEDY: That's right. Because I started like Chris as a teenager. I was drinking at 13. And one of the big evidence-based interventions is that the earlier you start drinking, the more likely you're going to have it.

O'REILLY: Did your dad know you were drinking at 13.

KENNEDY: I don't know whether at the time he was as aware. I don't think so. I certainly tried to hide it.

O'REILLY: Right.

KENNEDY: So, as most cases, addicts try to hide their behavior.

O'REILLY: OK. Now, let's get to the crux of the book, how you get off it. How did you get off it. Very specifically, how did you finally stop.

KENNEDY: I found a community of people that knew how to stay stopped.

O'REILLY: Is that like Alcoholics Anonymous or --

LAWFORD: If it were, I wouldn't tell you that because it's Alcoholics Anonymous. But I did go to a place --

O'REILLY: So, you went to AA.

LAWFORD: No. I went to a place where people know how to -- they know about recovery. I went to recovery meetings. I went to a group of people. It's imperative that you get honest with yourself and you get honest with other people.

O'REILLY: All right. So, you went into a structure.

LAWFORD: Well, yes.

O'REILLY: And the structure gave you the information and the tools to stop.

LAWFORD: That's correct.

O'REILLY: Do you continue with that structure now.

LAWFORD: Yes, absolutely.

O'REILLY: OK. How did you get off.

KENNEDY: Well, I retired from Congress.


O'REILLY: Right. Was that one of the reasons that you did, because you were an addict.

KENNEDY: Well, it was a realization that I couldn't live the life I wanted to live, in that stressful environment.

O'REILLY: So, you needed to get out of there to clean up.

KENNEDY: Well, that's what ended up happening. I've had the longest period of sobriety since leaving.

O'REILLY: All right. But how did you get off.

KENNEDY: I went to rehab. But I went to many rehabs. How did I stay off is more the question.


KENNEDY: Well, I got married, have a family, have children. I have relationships that are more meaningful in my life today, like my cousin, Chris, than the superficial relationships that I spent most of my time nurturing when I was in political life.

O'REILLY: All right. So, did you go, like he did, into a structure, into a crew that said, "Look, this is what you have to do." Did you do the same thing.

KENNEDY: So, the best evidence-based is cognitive behavior which is 12-step program because you deal with it every single day.

O'REILLY: All right, look, the book, "Recover To Live." If anybody out there has a problem or knows people who do, check this out. And, gentlemen, we appreciate your coming in.

KENNEDY: Thanks, Bill.

O'REILLY: You did a noble thing.

LAWFORD: Appreciate it.

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