Neilson Barnard / REX USA
09/17/2009 at 02:00 PM EDT
Burt Reynolds may be known for his macho roles, but the veteran leading man, who is rehabilitating from an addiction to prescription drugs, says he sought help because he couldn't do it by himself.
"I felt that in spite of the fact I am supposedly a big tough guy, I couldn't beat prescription drugs on my own," Reynolds, 73, told PEOPLE Thursday. "I've worked hard to get off of them and really hope other people will realize they need to seek professional help, rather than ignoring the problem or trying to get off of the prescriptions on their own.
"This has been a challenging time for me personally, and I really appreciate the outpouring of love and support from my fans, friends and family," he said. "I am looking forward to getting back to teaching and working."
Reynolds was in a rehab treatment center for about a month, but now the Smokey and the Bandit star "is home doing well," his manager tells PEOPLE. "We are all proud of what he accomplished on his own will and with great support."
Despite reports that Reynolds was found "bloodied and unconscious" before entering rehab, Suzanne Niedland, the chairman of the board of the Burt Reynolds Institute of Film & Theater, says that is false.
"When Burt decided on his own that he needed to seek some help from his addiction to prescription pain medicine, he arrived at Hanley Center in his own car accompanied by a family member and checked himself in," says Niedland.
Reynolds's addiction problem started after he injured his back, according to his manager.
"A lot of high-profile people don't seek medical attention or choose not to go into rehab for fear of stories linked to tall tales, like what came out about Burt," Niedland tells PEOPLE. "Burt Reynolds was very brave to go through with detox and treatment."