Liza Hamm
June 16, 2008 12:00 PM

In her 2004 memoir A Paper Life, actress Tatum O’Neal chronicled her battle with cocaine and heroin. “I’ve triumphed over addiction,” she wrote. Sadly, her battle may not be over. On June 1, police arrested O’Neal, 44, for allegedly purchasing two bags of cocaine from a dealer near her Manhattan home. Charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, O’Neal faces a maximum of one year in jail. But at her arraignment the next day, the District Attorney’s office recommended she attend a drug awareness program. She’s expected back in court July 28. “There’s no excuse for what I did,” O’Neal told the New York Post after spending a night in jail. Thanking police for keeping her “sober,” she explained that three weeks earlier, “I lost my Scottish Terrier, Lena. That seemed to set me off…I have the disease of alcoholism. It’s lifelong.”

Friends were surprised by the news. “She said she wasn’t using,” says Peter Bogdanovich, who directed O’Neal in 1973’s Paper Moon, for which she won an Oscar at age 10. “She seemed like she was in good shape.” The eldest child of actors Ryan O’Neal and Joanna Moore (who died in 1997), O’Neal has said she suffered emotional and physical abuse during her childhood. A rocky marriage and bitter divorce from tennis star John McEnroe followed. In 1995, O’Neal lost custody of their kids, Kevin, now 22, Sean, 20, and Emily, 17, due to her drug use. After numerous trips to rehab, she won joint custody. Now those close to O’Neal—who appears on the FX drama Rescue Me—are hoping the troubled star can bounce back once again. “She’s had some tough breaks,” says Bogdanovich. “I’m sure she can recover. She’s a good girl.”

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