UNION, NJ – Actor Daniel Baldwin had some sobering remarks for the audience at the New Jersey Recovery Film Festival, Recovery through Expression, in Kean University’s STEM  building, June 2, to  benefit The Raymond J. Lesniak Experience Strength & Hope  Recovery High School.

The high school is dedicated to helping young people recover from substance abuse while still getting an education.  

Baldwin began by introducing himself. “Hello, I’m Dan. I am an alcoholic. I am an addict.”

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Calling the school, “an innovative, spot-on, necessary program to fight what is going on in this country, Baldwin said, “It is no longer an inner-city problem. It is a white America, upper middle class problem in every high school in New Jersey, and in every high school in the United States.

“When Ebola came into the Dallas International Airport, one case suspected, $650 billion was spent in 24 hours by the federal government to fight this awful, possible disease that was going to attack and kill millions of Americans.

He continued, “More kids between ages 15 and 25 will die in 2017 than died in the entire Vietnam War due to over doses, 49,000 last year and it will crest 60,000 this year … and we can’t get funding from the federal government to open up a 100 of these schools.”

Baldwin was at the festival to present his film The Wisdom to Know the Difference, which is based on a real character named Bob, who, as a recovered addict, worked to bring others to sobriety. The film tells the story of how Bob kidnapped a young addict at the behest of her uncle, brought her to a remote cabin, and began the long, painful, arduous process of re-building a life.

“Bob is a real person, a crisis interventionist,” said Baldwin. “I did my fifth step with him. He kidnapped Carlos’s (featured in the film) niece. He kidnapped people from his neighborhood in Los Angeles. I said to myself, ‘I am going to tell this story.’”

Baldwin, who wrote and directed the film, made it in 12 days for under its $60,000 budget. “I have never made a penny from this film, and I never will,” he said. Instead, proceeds have paid for an 85-bed facility in San Antonio. “We have helped a 1,000 kids in San Antonio.”     

The Raymond J. Lesniak, Experience Strength & Hope Recovery High School is a partnership between Prevention Links, a non‐profit focused on substance abuse prevention, and the Union County Vocational Technical School district.

“We should have 300 of these recovery high schools, and we could keep them filled for the next decade,” said Baldwin.