By Shannon Koehle
Oscar-winner Tatum O’Neal, who has suffered from drug addiction since the 1980s, was arrested Sunday, June 1, buying crack cocaine a few blocks from her Lower East Side, New York City apartment.
Though the celebrity has sustained stints of sobriety, she credits her most recent attempt at relapse with the death of her 16-year-old terrier. As she says, “There’s no excuse for what I did. But I lost my Scottish terrier Lena three weeks ago. And that set me off.”
However, O’Neal’s friend and Director of Admissions and Certified Chemical Dependency Counselor at Harmony Place, Exclusively for Women, Don Grant says, “It (attempted relapse) didn’t start with the dog dying. I’m not buying it and no one at this program is.”
Harmony Place, located in an exclusive Southern California neighborhood, is one of the top 10 drug treatment centers in the world, according to Forbes magazine. The staff focuses on breaking client substance abuse, as well as the behavior patterns and thought processes associated with addiction through traditional and holistic approaches, says Grant.
While O’Neal follows a 12 Step Program for recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction, Grant says sometimes the 12 Step Program is not enough. Finding the reason that leads to the alcoholism and drug addiction through therapeutic support is often necessary.
He adds, “Someone who’s working a strong sobriety program and stops is going to relapse. That is a recipe for disaster.” For these reasons, Grant says he would like O’Neal to attend Harmony Place.
The 44-year-old actress was released Monday with one misdemeanor criminal possession of a controlled substance and has vowed to help the man who was arrested for selling her the drugs, Alan Garcia, 33. As she states, “He’s not a drug dealer. He’s a panhandler who sold drugs.”
According to New York Police Department spokesman Mike Wysokowski, “Officers found two yellow zip-lock bags on her – one with crack and the other filled with regular cocaine – along with an unused crack pipe,” reports E! News.
O’Neal, who is best known as the youngest Oscar winner for her role in the 1973 film “Paper Moon,” and current stints on season two “Dancing with the Stars” and “Rescue Me,” has re-enrolled herself in Alcoholics Anonymous and plans to celebrate a year of sobriety on June 10, just days before her court appearance on June 28.
As Grant says, “The most important thing for people who relapse is to believe there is hope. There’s always a solution. So get out of the problem, and into the solution.”