This week, pop culture fans got a dose of saddening news with the passing of actor and Kennedy cousin Christopher Lawford. While he will undoubtedly be remembered for his famous familial ties, Christopher is also being acknowledged for the tremendous work he did to publicize sobriety and the challenges of addiction.
Lawford, who was 63, passed away from a heart attack in Vancouver, Canada; where he had been living with a girlfriend. As expected, the social media tributes began pouring out. While of course they praised Christopher for his character and giving nature, they also strongly emphasized the contributions he made for the recovery community.
His cousin Patrick J. Kennedy (son of the late Senator Ted Kennedy), called out his continuous advocacy.
The recovery community lost a founding father today. My cousin, Chris Lawford, passed away from a heart attack yesterday evening. To the world he was an author, actor, & activist, but to the recovery community he was a pioneer – living proof that long-term recovery was possible. pic.twitter.com/NS9TLZgRlT
— Patrick J. Kennedy (@PJK4brainhealth) September 5, 2018
As did cousin Bobby Shriver (brother of Maria Shriver).
#Chrislawford was a fighter. He fought his addiction every day. He fought for his beautiful children. He visited his friends. He brought his dogs everywhere. A lifelong buddy. He won because he always tried hard. Blessings on his many friends, wonderful sisters and kids. pic.twitter.com/elS18ClRxA
— Bobby Shriver (@bobbyshriver) September 5, 2018
Sobriety spokesperson Jennifer Gimenez also quickly took to Twitter to praise Lawford’s work.
I am deeply sadden for the loss of my friend Christopher Kennedy Lawford! He was a strong advocate for recovery! His passion to help others was & will always be inspiring to me. My prayers to his family & friends 🙏🙏🙏🙏💔 pic.twitter.com/Q2jweb4XBR
— Jennifer Gimenez (@JenniferGimenez) September 5, 2018
The truth of the matter is, Christopher (like many celebrity offspring) publicly faced a very difficult addiction battle. But rather than hide from it or shun the publicity, he bravely faced his demons and was very open about his struggles. In 2005, he wrote a bestselling memoir that tackled these topics titled Symptoms of Withdrawal: A Memoir of Snapshots and Redemption. Later, he published another book titled Voices From the Front Lines of Addiction and Recovery, which featured essays from celebrity survivors such as Tom Arnold and Jamie Lee Curtis. His most recent book, What Addicts Know, was another bestseller.
Lawford basically devoted the later part of his life to lecturing about substance abuse, raising funds for treatment centers and bringing the cause to the political stage.
“I was the product of an addictive perfect storm,” he told Parade Magazine in 2015. “We had an entirely different culture in 1969 when I first used drugs. Experimentation, permissiveness and, frankly, ignorance of what this disease is. Addiction is a brain illness, and it’s not limited to one demographic or another. You can be an alcoholic in the White House or in the poor house.”
Ironically, Christopher had moved to Vancouver over to launch a new recovery facility in the area. Today, we send our deepest condolences to the Lawford family and thank him for all of his inspirational work.