“Experience, strength and hope” is a mantra frequently heard in the rooms of recovery, and Chris Lawford’s Symptoms of Withdrawal, certainly offers a great deal of all three. Each time an addict or alcoholic goes to the front of the room to tell their story, they are asked to cover three important areas – What we were like, what happened, and what we were like now. Much like the pirate’s code, they more guidelines really, rather than what you would call rules. Each addict telling their story must decide for themselves where the line is drawn that separates an honest portrayal of their experience of addiction from euphoric recall. The geography of Mr. Lawford’s line made me uncomfortable.Though uncomfortable, I was renewed by the story of Mr. Lawford’s struggle. I was especially pleased that he acknowledged his own character flaws that continued to plague his life in sobriety, as they do for all who are addicted, myself included. Self-honesty, humility, and the willingness to learn, are traits that all must possess in one form or another to live sober one day at a time, and I believe that his naked reality of life in recovery is a real blessing found in this book.I got the book a few months ago when Mr. Lawford spoke to a group in Knoxville dedicated to working with the mentally ill and addicted. I was impressed by his passion for helping other get recovery. He was talking about a very small gain that had occurred in the United Nation’s recognition of addiction as a disease. This is a conclusion reached by the AMA in the 1950’s. Despite the fact that it took over 50 years to gain this one step, Mr. Lawford talked of the minute progress as though it matched the achievement of landing on the moon. It was an blessing to read his story and how he has learned to intuitively hand situations which used to baffle him. I think if you read Symptoms of Withdrawal, you too will be less baffled and walk away from the experience with strength and hope.