Actor Martin Sheen Visits Tulsa To Support Program Close To His Heart

Wednesday, December 12th 2012, 10:44 pm
By: News On 6

Wednesday was, of course 12-12-12, the ideal date for an organization called "12&12" to hold a fundraiser.

The alcohol treatment center, 12&12, was founded almost 30 years ago at 12 East 12th Street in downtown Tulsa.

It's become the largest non-profit treatment center in the region, and Wednesday night, they held a fundraiser with a very special guest, actor Martin Sheen.

Addiction has been a very public part of Martin Sheen's life.

"I always say, ‘Hi I'm Martin and I'm a grateful alcoholic,'" Sheen said.

Grateful, because finding sobriety gave him a chance to live what he calls an honest life.

And Tulsa played a role in that journey.

12&12 was co-founded by Chris Malick, whose brother is movie director Terrence Malick. Sheen said he's known the family for decade and that their friendship changed his life.

"It was his brother, Terry, who helped me, during a very critical time in my life, find the road to my own spirituality, which led to my sobriety. And Chris was very much a part of it," Sheen said.

So, periodically Martin Sheen comes to town to return the favor, and his help is sorely needed.

12&12 was founded on the principle that its doors would be open to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay.

"Its getting more and more difficult. There's a far greater need now and the facility has taken a beating from just wear and tear," Sheen said.

The program has long since outgrown its original headquarters.

It's now based in an old Sheraton Hotel off I-44, and while it can house 250 clients, it still falls far short of demand.

"We receive around 5,000 individuals a year that we provide services for, and I think our estimate right now is over 10,000 calls a month," said Executive Director Bryan Day.

Day said Oklahoma's addiction problem is behind a wide variety of social ills, from poor health, to domestic violence, to skyrocketing prison rates.

"I use the term 'tip of the spear,' because I really do believe that," Day said.

Sheen said he hears the same story in city after city.

"It's hard to imagine anyone's life in our culture that is not connected in some way with some form of addiction. Whether its alcohol or drugs or prescription drugs, that's really the big killer these days, because it's so hidden and so acceptable," Sheen said.

He said it's denial and fear that keeps most addicts from seeking help, so he decided to use his celebrity to shine a light for those whose lives are filled with despair.

Sheen said he knows firsthand that treatment programs like 12&12 can work. It takes money, it takes courage and it takes faith.

"It's a belief in a mystery, which is a belief in a fellow human being, because we're all mysteries. And it works because of community. It works because you're no longer on your own and you don't have to be alone ever again," Sheen said.

12&12 hoped to raise $68,000 Wednesday night to upgrade its kitchen.

Visit 12& if you'd like to help or find out more about the program.