Staying Sober With Daniel Baldwin

Caught in a battle with addiction for nearly two decades, the actor reaches out.

ByABC News
March 28, 2008, 12:20 PM

March 28, 2008— -- For more than 18 years, actor Daniel Baldwin has battled an addiction to smoking cocaine. He has been in and out of rehab nine times, and in January, he joined the reality TV show "Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew," planning to serve as a mentor to the other participants. But during the fourth episode, Baldwin left the show, saying it was "no longer conducive to my sobriety. Period."

At the end of 2006, he allowed ABC News cameras unprecedented access to his seven-month journey through rehab at Renaissance Malibu, one of the most exclusive rehab facilities in the country. He struggled to rid his body of drugs, dealt with mounting legal problems, resumed his acting career and began to rebuild relationships that were affected by his addiction.

The hourlong ABC News documentary received an overwhelming response last summer, and Baldwin received dozens of letters, some offering support and some asking for help.

One letter stuck out for Baldwin. It was a note written by Kristen O'Hara on the night the ABC News program ran. Kristen's 22-year-old son, Eamon, went from honor roll student and star athlete to a binge drinking, emotional, financial burden on his parents and loving younger brother and sister.

Baldwin remembers passages of the letter that were so vivid he can recite them from memory.

"'Eamon woke up yesterday morning on the freeway, to a face full of glass,'" he recalls."' He was drunk, passed out, and smashed his car up. No one was hurt, but he easily could have been killed, or could have killed someone else.'"

Kristen expressed her hope that it wasn't going to take Eamon 20 more years to hit rock bottom and figure out he had a problem, as it did for the 46-year-old Baldwin.

Baldwin remembered her final plea, "'Is there anything you can do to help me?' And I said, 'I'm going to go try to help this boy.'"

Baldwin says he's been sober since Nov. 22, 2006, and credits part of his success to working on the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 steps of recovery. Helping other addicts by sharing the wisdom of the program is the 12th and final step.

"That's the continuum of life and sobriety here," explained Baldwin. "I'm not just doing this because I'm this great guy that wants to help. I'm doing it because I need to keep sober, and by putting it out there, my experience, strength and hope to the Eamons of the world, I stay sober."

Kristen and Baldwin met once face-to-face and then continued to speak during a number of long-distance phone calls. They worked out a plan to convince Eamon that he had a drinking problem and needed help. Many informal attempts in the past had failed to motivate Eamon to stop.

On Dec. 1, 2007, the day of the surprise intervention had arrived. Baldwin, who says he had participated in many interventions before, left a movie set in Toronto, where he had been filming "Grey Gardens" for HBO with Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange. He traveled by car with his sober entourage: Scotty Brown, Greg Hanley and John Tarasi.