LUNCH WITH CHRISTOPHER KENNEDY LAWFORD (02.11.2012) Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney

I was honoured to attend an invitation by South Pacific Private Hospital where Dr.Christopher Kennedy, nephew of John F Kennedy and son of actor Peter Lawford delivered a powerful speech, addressing addiction as a treatable disorder of the brain and the consequences of harmful stigmatisation most addicts experience as a result of their illness. Christopher has been living in recovery from addictions for over 24 years. He is now the CEO of the Global Recovery Initiative, he serves as the United Nations first Goodwill Ambassador for Drug Treatment and Care Issues, and works with the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).

Christopher shared aspects of his own trauma, addiction, and recovery and reminded us of the importance to change social attitudes about addiction. He emphasised the need to close the gap between new scientific knowledge and contemporary public perception.

The American Society of Addiction Medicine has recently redefined addiction as a ‘primary, chronic brain disorder’ and not merely a bad behaviour or poor choices. Addiction, including sex addiction, is a treatable condition of the brain. If left untreated, addiction takes the place of organising principal in the addict’s life and is likely to affect every member of the family, the workplace, friendships, and community.

Addiction is one of the most serious and costly health problems in the world, ahead of depression, cancer, and heart disease. Untreated substance abuse is incurring an estimated economic cost of 559 billion dollars to society in the US alone!

Approximately 90% of addicts do not receive treatment. Social stigma and shame, economic hardship, a fear of judgement and rejection, and a lack of experienced professional therapists and sex therapists may also be responsible.

Christopher emphasised that prevention of addiction must become a major focus. Approximately 95% of every health dollar is spent on treating the consequences of addiction, as opposed to the prevention of addiction disorder.

South Pacific Private Hospital, Australia’s most recognised addiction treatment facility, has specialised in the treatment and prevention of addictions since 1998.

Sex Addiction Australia is an Affirmotive private professional counselling practice, operated by founder and director Heide McConkey. Heide is also an endorsed service provider by South Pacific Private Hospital. Sex Addiction Australia specialises in the treatment and prevention of sexual addictions, sexual compulsions, and complex relationship issues. We welcome all gender, all minority groups, and all sexual orientations.