In the two months since he and wife Courteney Cox
announced their separation, David Arquette had been acting more than a little wild. But during a raucous Dec. 29 outing in Miami Beach, it became clear that the actor was in crisis. "David had hurt his face doing the Worm," a source says of Arquette's attempted face-first dance move, "so he wore a mask to cover his bruises." Later that night the camouflage continued when Arquette arrived at Fontainebleau's nightclub LIV with comedian Jeff Beacher (who runs their vaudeville show Beacher's Madhouse
), dressed as a clown. "He went ballistic. He was unable to sit still. He was carrying a doll, hitting people with it," adds the source. "He was out of control."
Three days later the actor seemed to agree with that assessment, checking himself into a rehab facility for at least 28 days to deal with alcohol abuse and depression. "He couldn't handle all the changes in his life," says a source close to Arquette, 39, adding that the star did not need treatment for drugs. "His inner demons came out." Now he's trying to rein them in with his wife's support. "I really admire David and his choice to take charge and better his life," Cox told PEOPLE in a statement. "I love and support him."
Despite speculation that Cox had begun doubting Arquette's ability to take care of their daughter Coco, 6, a Cox source insists that "Courteney thinks David is an amazing father. His entering rehab was not a reflection of poor parenting. It was David's decision to get help."
Arquette himself had openly acknowledged his own downward spiral. "I've been drinking a lot. When I drink, I become a maniac," he told Howard Stern on Dec. 15, adding that he thought he was having a nervous breakdown. He attempted to stop drinking after acting out at Adam Sandler's holiday party last month, but soon realized he couldn't maintain sobriety on his own-especially given his involvement in Beacher's Madhouse
, which kept him tethered to the nightclub scene. "That [job], coupled with his depression over the breakup, is what led to him drinking and partying too much," says a friend. Adds a source: "He was partying so he didn't have to focus on what's really going on."
Now Arquette will be forced to focus-especially if he has any hope of saving his marriage. "He wants his family," says a friend. "He knows he needs to get healthy before Courteney would even consider taking him back."