Through revealing his personal and private struggles, Ben Affleck may be able to make a difference in others’ lives, an addiction specialist tells PEOPLE.
“I’ve got to take my hat off to Ben, because he’s being a leader by being able to come forward and be honest about his struggles, because it’s such a crisis,” says Dr. Howard Samuels of The Hills Treatment Center in Los Angeles.
On Tuesday, Affleck told fans through a Facebook post that he had recently completed a stint in rehab for alcohol addiction.
“I have completed treatment for alcohol addiction; something I’ve dealt with in the past and will continue to confront,” Affleck wrote. “I want to live life to the fullest and be the best father I can be. I want my kids to know there is no shame in getting help when you need it, and to be a source of strength for anyone out there who needs help but is afraid to take the first step.”
The 44-year-old is tackling, head-on, the “negative stigma” that surrounds addiction and alcoholism, Samuels says.
“I think it’s so important that people that are high-profile really use the platform that they’ve been able to achieve to help other people,” explains Samuels, who is a recovering heroin addict with 32 years of sobriety. “Because that, to me, is what this is all about. It’s about helping the people that are still amid their alcoholism to come out of the closet.”
He continues, “Ben is really doing that, because I think he feels he has a responsibility to help people.”
Samuels co-founded The Hills Treatment Center, a Commission of Accredited Rehabilitation Facilities’ certified drug and alcohol rehabilitation center, and still serves as CEO. At The Hills, almost all staff members are also in recovery, according to the center’s website. The Hills offers in- and out-patient treatment, as well as sober living facilities.
A source told PEOPLE that, lately, Affleck “has been struggling and he decided that he needed to get back to being healthy again. It was Ben’s choice to receive treatment.” The source noted that Affleck’s estranged spouse Jennifer Garner “is happy that he is working on himself.”
In Affleck’s Facebook post, he thanked “co-parent, Jen, who has supported me and cared for our kids as I’ve done the work I set out to do.”
Samuels calls the actor’s entire message “beautiful,” saying, “He’s doing it not just for his kids, but for everybody.”
Says Samuels, “Addiction and alcoholism is such a crisis in this country that we need people like Ben to come forward and be leaders so other people in the country aren’t ashamed to get help.”