Daniel Baldwin Changes the Conversation

Published On July 26, 2013 | July/August 2013

Daniel Baldwin Changes the Conversation

Recovery comes to south central Texas


In a recent interview with Daniel Baldwin and SOBA Recovery Center, Austin MD learned about the link between the film industry, drug and alcohol addiction and mental health–and what Baldwin is doing to help.

Baldwin, well known from his role as Detective Beau Felton on the popular NBC series Homicide: Life on the Streets, currently lives in south central Texas, near Canyon Lake.  Originally from Massapequa, New York, Baldwin says he loves Texas’ laid-back lifestyle.

“It’s so beautiful here. I have two little kids, it’s a great quality of life. I get here and it’s winter time, and it’s 65 degrees!” said Baldwin, who is pleased to feel at home and not have to deal with the hassle of flying between Los Angeles and New York.

Baldwin, now a local, is interested in resurrecting the film industry in south central Texas, noting that increased filming benefits the economy in multiple ways. First, there are the jobs created for crew and behind the scenes personnel. But also, if a production is being filmed in Austin, Texas, Baldwin explains, the wardrobe is not going to be flown in at extra baggage cost. Instead, stylists will head to Austin boutiques and buy their wardrobe, crew members will nosh on lunch at local eateries, and actors will rest at local hotel rooms.

Austin was once a movie-making city. Scenes from unlikely films such as Hope Floats, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Friday Night Lights, and Michael were shot in Austin, though many would not know it.

“In the mid to late 80’s and early 90’s, Austin had become a hot bed,” Baldwin reflects. “I thought Austin was going to be China, you know, the sleeping giant of the film industry.” But, he adds, “There was a slough off in the economy, obviously, things that predicated not shooting as many films—anywhere. And I think Texas and Austin were affected by that.”

Today the economy in Texas, in comparison to other areas of the country, is thriving. The problem now is the state the state’s disinterest in doling out incentives to would-be filmmakers. Neighboring states, such as Louisiana and New Mexico, are offering incentive programs Texas is not willing to offer. Independant filmmakers are being provided with extra funds on top of their budget to shoot in other states, taking great opportunities for economic stimulation with them just across state lines. With some creative thinking, state and local politicians could come up with ways to provide those incentives and make south central Texas once again a movie-making mecca.

“We need Austin and San Antonio to play ball now,” said Baldwin.

Baldwin is playing ball himself, working on a new film about addiction called The Wisdom to Know the Difference, which was shot, and edited by Bauhaus Media Group, in San Antonio.

“The title of this movie is the third stanza of the Serenity Prayer: ‘Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference,’” Baldwin tells us. “I am hoping to catch the attention of anyone that’s been in or out or still in the program. I want them to see it and give it to someone else who needs to see the film.”

Baldwin, who has publicly battled substance abuse, wrote this story loosely based on a man he once knew. The storyline details the life of a recovered addict and his journey of  helping others through their addictions. Not for the faint-hearted, this movie delves into addiction and tragedy, focusing on the traumatic circumstances that led a man on a path of addiction. Baldwin plays the lead character, with a star-studded supporting cast including his brother, Billy Baldwin, Lou Diamond Phillips, Myra Leal and Burton Gilliam, among others.

“This film has a budget of $60,000. Any one of the top three actors in this film makes over that just to be in a movie. They were willing to do this film because they care. They care about the issue, and we all hope this will reach someone who really needs to hear its message,” Baldwin explains.

California-based SOBA Recovery Center is the executive producer of the The Wisdom to Know the Difference and is working with Baldwin to spread information to the people of Texas and the rest of the nation about addiction and recovery.

“Daniel, after years of substance abuse and failed recovery attempts, found SOBA and sobriety. We are pleased that he is now working with us to spread our common message,” says Greg Hannley, CEO and founder of SOBA Recovery Center.

According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, about 40 million Americans meet the medical criteria for substance addiction involving nicotine, alcohol and drugs. That is more than people with heart conditions, diabetes, or cancer. In a study of 67,500 people in 2011, results showed that 21.6 million Americans (8.4 percent) needed treatment for a problem related to drugs or alcohol, but only about 2.3 million people (less than 1 percent) received treatment at a specialty facility.

“The problem is health insurance runs out on people in treatment before they are ready to leave,” Hannley explains. “Patients who stay in a recovery facility for a year or more have significantly lower relapse rates than those who only stayed for 30 days to six months. We had to get creative, but we found a way to keep people in treatment for the amount of time they needed to break their addiction and to stay sober when they leave here.”

According to the study done by the National Institute on Drug Use in 2011, the largest population to report illicit drug use was young adults aged 18 to 25. The highest percentage within that age range to report drug use in the previous month was the late teens to early twenties (18-20), with 23.8 percent.

“The people we have at the main facility are mainly younger, and most are addicted to some form of Opiates. It’s highly addictive, and a hard habit to kick. The withdrawals are intense, and the emotional toll it takes on a person and on their loved ones really affects the patients self-esteem,” says Hannley.

“It’s a long process, first we have to get the patient detoxed,” said Hannley. “That’s when we find the core issues that are driving the substance addiction. Very rarely, almost never actually, is there an addict that does not have an underlying issue. At that point, we diagnose the issue and work through it. Sometimes patients think they are cured. They believe they feel better and they don’t need medication anymore for their disorder which sets back their recovery, but it’s a lesson they might need to realize that the medication is the reason why they feel better.”

Many people with mental disorders self-medicate with either alcohol or drugs to reduce the symptoms of their illness. Such disorders include bipolar disorder and depression, but the list could go on and on.

It is with the understanding that addiction always has an underlying cause that SOBA uses a “one size does not fit all” model in its treatment programs. One-on-one therapy is used to teach the patient how to manage their life and stress. If the underlying issue, whether it be a mental disorder, traumatic life event, stress, pain, etc., is worked through, the likelihood of remaining drug-free after leaving the recovery facility increases exponentially.

SOBA’s main facility is located in Malibu, but a Texas location is soon to come.

“We are in the process of opening a San Antonio location. For such a large city to only have one in-patient recovery center is not working,” Hannley says.

Hannley can trace his family back to Texas, to the original Browns for which Brownsville is named. He is pleased to be bringing recovery services to Texas and looks forward to opportunities elsewhere in the area, including, possibly, Austin.

If you or someone you know is battling a substance addiction, call the SOBA 24-hour helpline at 866-547-6451.

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