Actor Daniel Baldwin knows rehab as well as he knows the addiction that sent him through that process nine times. This time he thinks he’s got it right, and he has an idea why pop singer Britney Spears and actress Lindsay Lohan so far have been unable to kick their habits.
“It seems a lot of celebrities are trying to put a Band-Aid on a bullet wound,” he told TODAY co-host Matt Lauer during a live interview Thursday. “As far as their careers are concerned, it’s a P.R. thing.”
Baldwin knows his subject after 18 years of addiction — his drug of choice was cocaine — and his nine stints in rehab. He acknowledged that there is criticism of a new breed of luxury rehab centers that cater to their clients with spa treatments and allow them to bring their Blackberries with them.
Baldwin’s been to the old-fashioned, no-nonsense programs and the high-end ones; his last stint was 95 days in the $57,000-a-month Renaissance Malibu holistic rehab center. He got out last November and is living in a condo complex whose other residents are also recovering addicts. He attends meetings of recovering addicts daily.
“They advise you not to use your cell phone, but they are not going stop you from using your cell phone,” he told Lauer. “It’s like anything else in life. It depends on how much you decide to put into it. The reality of the world is when you leave, you are going to have a cell phone. You are going to be around the lifestyle you used to be around.”
That, he said, is why rehab so often doesn’t take.
“The problem as I see it for Lindsay, for Britney, for a lot of people out there, celebrities or not,” he told Lauer. “The most formative years of your childhood are years one through 12. Can you imagine letting someone at 12 years old go out into the street? No. You let them go out more, you send them to college, but there’s always that nest to come back to. They acclimate slowly to the world.
“The same is to be said about sobriety,” Baldwin continued. “In 30 days, or even a 90-day model, you’re going to send these people back out to the street? It’s not a good model. What you need to do is send these people into some kind of sober living. They need to make that transition slowly so they can go to work, come back and be around other sober people.”
The 46-year-old actor has said that he finally realized he really had to stop using cocaine when he welcomed the 2007 New Year from the inside of a jail cell, consigned there for violating his probation. After a couple of years of sobriety, he had fallen off the wagon in 2005 when he hurt his back while taping a TV reality show, “Celebrity Fit Club,” and got a prescription for Vicodin.
Instead of taking one pill every six hours, he has said, he was taking two every two hours. Despairing over his relapse, he went back to cocaine and alcohol. A car crash in July 2006 led to the drug possession charges that put him in jail and convinced him that he’d hit rock bottom.
Over the years, in addition to the car crash, he’s been charged with stealing a car (the charges were dropped), with threatening a woman in Santa Monica, and with disorderly conduct for running naked through the halls of the Plaza Hotel in New York.
Twice married and twice divorced, Baldwin has two daughters, Kahlea and Alexandra, through marriage and a son, Atticus, by actress Isabella Hofmann.
His current girlfriend, British model Joanne Smith, is pregnant with his child, and Baldwin has said he’s determined to stay sober for his new family as well as his other children. He’s the second of the four Baldwin brothers who grew up with two sisters in Massapequa, N.Y., in a strict household dominated by their teacher/football-coach father, Alexander.
Daniel Baldwin is probably best known for his work as a regular on the TV series “Homicide: Life on the Street,” but he’s appeared in dozens of movies and has worked steadily despite his addiction and his many rehab stints.
For others trying to stay sober, Baldwin recommended the search engine clubsoba.com.
“They will help you find something in your area that you can go spend six more months in where you’re out in the world, but you’re still in that protective nest,” he said.