Excerpt: 'Moments of Clarity'

Twenty-seven million Americans struggle against addiction to alcohol or drugs.

It's a struggle that can affect everyone -- famous and nonfamous. Tom Arnold, Jamie Lee Curtis and Elaine Stritch are just a few celebrities that have fought addiction.

They and many others talk about their experience in a new book by a member of one of America's most famous families: the Kennedys.

After detailing his struggle and recovery from addiction in "Symptoms of Withdrawal," Christopher Kennedy Lawford wrote "Moments of Clarity: Voices From the Front Lines of Addiction and Recovery," a collection of stories from across all segments of society with one journey through the harrowing life of addiction.

Read an excerpt of the book below and click here for more excerpts from "GMA's" library.

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Introduction

Stand upright, speak thy thoughts, declare the truth thou hast,
that all may share; be bold, proclaim it everywhere.
They only love who dare.
—Voltaire

The biggest mistake, sometimes, is to play things very safe
in this life and end up being moral failures.
—Dorothy Day

After writing my memoir, Symptoms of Withdrawal, the last thing I wanted to do was write a book about recovery. I thought I'd covered that already. When I first contemplated writing Symptoms I was seventeen years sober, recently separated from my family, living in a teardown on the Westside of L.A. that my cousin owned and was letting me squat in until I put my life back together. My career was in flux and I had just begun therapy for hepatitis C, embarking on a course of treatment that would save my life but leave me feeling really angry and depressed for close to a year. My only friend seemed to be a mouse that lived in the decaying chimney of the practically empty house I was living in.

One morning I received a call from a writer who was doing another in a long line of books about my family and he wanted to talk about what it was like being a Kennedy male. I wasn't in the mood and told him to write me a letter explaining why the world needed another book about the Kennedys. He recalled what he thought was a heroic story involving one of my cousins. I didn't know the story, nor did I think it particularly heroic. I told him if he'd said he needed the money or was trying to impress a girl I would have talked to him, but the only reason that story needed to be told was if my cousin wanted to tell it. And then I had a flash—maybe I had a story to tell and maybe I should write it before the virus attacking my liver killed me. That was the moment I had to become public about my recovery because any story I told would in large part be about my recovery from addiction to drugs and alcohol. I also knew any publisher who might publish that story would insist I do my part to promote it—publicly.

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