When people of a certain age hear the name Bing Crosby, what comes to mind is the multi-talented singer and actor with the greasy slicked back blond hair and an uncanny ability to land roles in movies between 1930 and 1960, especially the so-called “road pictures” with comedian and lifelong foil Bob Hope.
When you Google “Bing Crosby,” you can’t get an image of him without a big smile on his face. But was that really indicative of how he felt? Crosby battled with alcoholism his whole life, and his drinking had a major effect on his loved ones, including his first wife Dixie Lee, who herself became an alcoholic and died young at 54 from ovarian cancer.
The Crosbys had four boys before Dixie’s death, and the celebrity later married actress Kathryn Grant, and they had two more boys and a girl before Crosby died of a massive heart attack at a golf course in Spain in 1977. He was 74.
The two Crosby families gave him countless grandchildren, including another Bing Crosby who was bestowed with his grandfather’s name but never fell to the perils of addiction. However, he is a Crosby who decided to tackle the issue that caused his family and millions of other families a tremendous amount of pain.
“Alcoholism has run in my family for as long as I can recall,” he says. “Being the grandson of Bing Crosby, I’ve heard stories of how Bing, in his earlier years, drank a lot, which led into his wife Dixie. I heard she became an alcoholic because of him which led to her ovarian cancer.”
The younger Bing Crosby also recalls having friendships that were affected by addiction and talks about how many people he grew up with had substance abuse problems. One friend became addicted to pills for 10 years and spent a lot of his life in and out of jail. Crosby says another friend shot himself.
Yet, it was someone else who has been sober for 30 years that ultimately drove Crosby to South County’s New Method Wellness Center.
“It was my wife,” he says. “It was her dream to always own a rehab center. I kind of just tagged along for the ride, but now that I’ve got into it, it’s one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. The feeling you get helping others; there’s no better feeling than hearing the story of someone who lost everything and is back on track, back with their kids, back with their wives. It’s an unbelievable feeling. Once you feel that, it gets you.”
Ed and Susie Hopsom-Blum opened the clinic in 2006, and Crosby’s wife Deanna became the clinical director there. After her hiring, an opportunity arose for Crosby to become a New Method Wellness Center business partner, and he says he couldn’t turn his back on it considering his family’s and friends’ histories as substance abusers.
The facility began operating in the big Chase building in Mission Viejo, where about eight patients a month were served, but it later relocated to San Juan Capistrano, where 40 to 50 patients a month are being treated. Various communal homes house patients in the rehab so that their environment maintains the same atmosphere and doesn’t waver from the goal that everyone has toward recovery. From the live-in homes, where patients are separated by gender, they are dropped off every morning at the Wellness Center, where they spend days doing activities, building relationships and learn to live sober lives.
Center activities revolve around therapy: not only traditional, one-on-one talk therapy but various forms of cognitive, emotional, psychological, holistic, art-based and environmental therapies.
New Method also provides physical therapy such as yoga or, in the great outdoors, surfing, horseback riding, which is referred to equine therapy, and wilderness therapy. These types of activities aim to produce natural endorphins that are vital to recovery because they bring the same joy that getting high brings, except in a natural and safe way.
They even have wolf therapy!
Every aspect of addiction is addressed in an attempt to bring it to its knees. But each person is different, as is their cases, each treatment plan is individualized.
“You have to submerge yourself into it and be willing to do anything we suggest,” Crosby says. “Even if you have to fake it, a lot of people don’t want to be part of it right away, but as long as you do the whole process your odds are going to be way higher to succeed. Occasionally people have to return, but it’s part of the journey for a lot of people. It’s probably less often that someone is going to come just one time, get it and be done.”
New Method Wellness Center is among the places celebrity rehab television personality Dr. Phil recommends. A 2:1 staff to patient ratio helps ensure every client receives individual attention.
Initially, a patient would check into one of the detox homes, depending on whether they’re a male or female. The Flores home is the women’s detox home and the Rio house is the men’s. Both residences are very homey and extremely well furnished. The artistic interior environment of each aims to emit serenity.
Once the patient has completed the detox program, which normally depends on the type of substance the addict used and for how long, he or she is sent to the New Method Wellness Center to transition back into sobriety under staff guidance.
The center is still expanding as another building adjacent to the one they’re using now was acquired. They plan on moving the clinical part of the center to the new building and keeping the administrative functions in the one being used now.
“We’re just going to keep rolling and see what comes next,” Crosby says. “Our next event we have is an alumni picnic in December. All of our alumni will come, we’ll get a taco truck, we’ll play games and have fun at the beach.”
Visit www.newmethodwellness.com for complete information on all forms of therapy and the various programs.
Student of journalism; Cal State University Dominguez Hills. Two classes away from BA degree. Intern @ OC Weekly, summer 2019. Intern @ The Beach Comber Spring 2019. Contributing Writer for CSUDH Bulletin Fall 2018/Spring 2019. Contributing Writer at Random Lengths News, 2012-2016. The most misunderstood hidden treasure you’ll ever find. Don’t believe me? See for yourself.