Martin Sheen On Sobriety, Supporting Charlie Sheen

By Paul Gaita 09/28/18

"I think all of us are striving to lead honest lives. That’s a requirement of every human being."

Martin and Charlie Sheen

Actor Martin Sheen addressed the many challenges experienced by his son, Charlie Sheen, at a charity event in Los Angeles on September 24.

The 78-year-old actor, who currently appears in the Netflix series Grace and Frankiefolded his son's experiences with alcohol, drugs and his very public meltdown into statements about selflessness, family unity and the importance of finding a means of giving back at a benefit for the nonprofit The People Concern by LA Chefs for Human Rights.

Sheen, who was being awarded with LA Chefs' Human Rights Hero Award for his work with the homeless in Los Angeles, said that he was proud of his son's efforts to follow a healthier path and admit to his past indiscretions. "I think all of us are striving to lead honest lives," said Sheen. "That’s a requirement of every human being."

Sheen, who also battled alcoholism, said that helping others can be beneficial to healing oneself. "The best way to heal is to help healing someone else, and it takes one to know one, so you can appreciate what someone's going through if you've gone there yourself," he noted.

In an interview with AARP Magazine, Sheen said that upon getting sober through his Catholic faith, he turned to Alcoholics Anonymous to gain perspective on how to help Charlie with his dependency issues, which ultimately involved him turning over his son to authorities for probation violation in 1998 as a last-ditch attempt to get him into rehabilitation.

Martin Sheen admitted that getting his son to a better place felt, at times, almost insurmountable. "What he was going through, we were powerless to do much, except to pray for him and lift him up," he told Radio Times in 2015.

Being in the glare of the celebrity spotlight also posed its own set of unique roadblocks. "The ego, the cover, the availability of stuff—it's bread for destruction, the celebrity's life," he explained.

To counter the siren call of the dangerous side of fame, Sheen said that giving over one's most precious commodities—time and ability—can become an oasis.

"When you come to understanding that the only thing you can ever possess is the thing that you cherish, and you give away with love, including your precious time and talent," he explained. "That's why volunteering is so important, because that's the only thing we can take with us when the job is over. The only things you can take with you are the things which you cherish and gave away with love."

Sheen expressed pride and gratitude in Charlie's latest attempt to live a sober life. "The bigger your celebrity, the more difficult it is to lead an honest life, because your past is always present," said the elder Sheen. "I think today makes it that much harder for people because there's no privacy. I think that the idea of anonymity is very important to the [recovery] program, and it has an energy all its own."

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.