May 28, 2008 / 5:52 AM / 10 years ago

Martin Sheen says tough love helped troubled son

LOS ANGELES (Reuters Life!) - As the father of a drug addict, actor Martin Sheen said the only way to help him was to endure his hatred, and even report him to the authorities.

The former “West Wing” star said he did everything possible to the point of being “fanatic” after finding out one of his four children, actor Charlie Sheen, was on drugs.

“When a life is at stake and it’s your child, you become fearless in a lot of ways,” Sheen, 67, said in the latest issue of AARP The Magazine, a publication targeted at retired Americans.

“You are dealing with a life-and-death situation. And the critical part of the equation is: are you willing to risk your child’s wrath? They are not going to like you. Don’t even think about them loving you. They’re going to call you the most vicious, obscene names.”

Sheen said it was hard to get his son’s attention, but his chance came after Charlie Sheen was hospitalized for a drug overdose in May 1998 and then skipped hospital.

Sheen said he paid the bill so got to see why his son was there -- for consuming an illegal substance while he was on probation and was not allowed these substances.

“This was a criminal matter. And so that was the wedge; that was the leverage I had. That is what I took to the court; that’s what I took to the sheriff. It was the only way I got him,” said Sheen.

After Sheen reported the overdose to the judge, his son was ordered into a rehabilitation program.

Since then his son, 42, now one of the highest-paid actors in TV as the star of the sitcom “Two and a Half Men,” has thanked him for saving him.

“It is such a deeply personal journal, the road to addiction and the road out of it. There are no two journeys alike,” said Sheen, who added that he had overcome his addiction to alcoholism with his faith, Catholicism..

(Writing by Belinda Goldsmith, Editing by Dean Goodman)

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