08/08/2001 at 01:00 AM EDT
Chronicling in its latest cover story how "Pearl Harbor" star Ben Affleck, 29, checked himself into a treatment center for alcohol last weekend, PEOPLE reports that it all began when Affleck called a close friend -- not to invite him to yet another party but to admit that he needed help. Through a string of contacts, Affleck was put in touch with reformed bad-boy actor Charlie Sheen, who helped to arrange a room for him at Promises, an exclusive drug and alcohol rehab center in Malibu, where Sheen was once a patient. A few hours later Sheen, 35, who has been sober for three years, drove Affleck to the $33,850-a-month cliff-top retreat. The news hit fans and friends like a bombshell. "I've been out with him a lot, and I've never once seen him get out of control," says Michael Bay, who directed Affleck in "Pearl Harbor" and 1998's "Armageddon." Indeed, those nearest to Affleck understand his reasoning to get his life under control. "He didn't like how he was feeling and saw the signs," says Larry Aaronson, 60, one of Affleck's former high school teachers, who points out that Ben's father, Tim, now 58, is an alcoholic who has been sober for 11 years. "People were telling him, 'Hey, what's going on?' and he said, 'You know what? I think I better go take care of it.' "