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Reel Recovery

By: Leonard Buschel

Follow the musings of REEL Recovery Film Festival Producer and Writers in Treatment Founder Leonard Buschel.

Celebrities Can Make a Difference


Jun 09, 2011

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend the NAATP conference in Phoenix, AZ.  For three days, treatment center owners and CEOs get to socialize, network, and learn useful information from well-known experts to help them improve their overall treatment methods. 

What I loved most about the conference was my 12-hour round-trip drive from Los Angeles to Phoenix. I got to listen to Dick Van Dyke reading his new autobiography, “My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business.”  I grew up wishing I was Richie Petrie’s brother and that Rob and Laura were my parents. Since my father died when I was three weeks old, I always loved projecting while watching Wishful Thinking television:  “My Three Sons,” “Make Room For Daddy” (not just his coffin), “Father Knows Best” (mostly about the afterlife), “Ozzie and Harriet,” and best of all, “The Dick Van Dyke Show.”  So to hear Dick Van Dyke tell me about his whole life (including a serious-enough drinking problem that he had to quit some years ago) and the behind-the-scenes showbiz stories that I love, was a real treat.

 

A week later, still enamored by this sober Hollywood story, I downloaded Rob Lowe’s new autobiography, “Stories I Only Tell My Friends”—perfect listening for a drive to Rancho Mirage, to honor a speaking commitment I had at the Betty Ford Center. I was riveted by Mr. Lowe’s Brat Pack stories and his rise as a young, talented actor from Ohio to a highly regarded thespian and a mature, sober father and husband.

How Lowe Saved My Lawyer's Sobriety
With Hollywood as the canvas, Rob draws a poignant, fascinating, and colorful picture of life from the fast lane to the carpool lane. He even mentions he is in Alcoholics Anonymous (boy, I hope he doesn’t get struck by lightning!).

Little does he know how his rigorous honesty saved my attorney’s life. Some years ago my lawyer was thinking of cashing in six months of sobriety for a bottle of vodka, thinking he needed it to feel hip again. While waiting in line at the market with this ticking Russian time bomb in his basket, he thumbed through a copy of a popular celebrity magazine and came across a piece mentioning that Rob Lowe was in recovery. He thought to himself: I love Rob Lowe! I think Rob Lowe is very hip…and if he can live clean and sober, so can I.

So rather than playing Russian roulette with a screwdriver, he just bought the orange juice. Thank God for the honest, bold, and creative people who have chosen to publish their
memoirs so that others may appreciate the struggle, the journey and the victory one can achieve over addiction.

The organization Writers In Treatment in Los Angeles, in fact, has a yearly celebration honoring celebrities who tell all about their
addictions—the annual Experience, Strength, and Hope Awards ceremony.  The first honoree in 2010 was Christopher Kennedy Lawford. Last March, the award went to Lou Gossett, Jr. for his fine memoir, An Actor and a Gentleman. Next February, the 2012 award will be going to astronaut/recovery advocate Buzz Aldrin, the author of Magnificent
 
Desolation:  The Long Journey Home from the Moon.
 
   

 

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