LOS ANGELES -- Adam Rich, the diminutive one-time child star facing criminal charges in a burglary and for shoplifting, says he is remorseful and blames his abuse of drug and alcohol for his troubles.
'I don't know why this happened, but I know I am sick. I have a disease,' Rich, who played little Nicholas Bradford on television's 'Eight is Enough,' told the Los Angeles Daily News.
Family conflicts and a failing career also have conspired against Rich, who is facing a possible prison term.
And, just as in his TV series, Rich, 22, has turned to Dick Van Patten, the patriarch of 'Eight is Enough,' for help.
It was Van Patten who bailed Rich out of jail after his arrest earlier this month on suspicion of trying to steal morphine from a pharmacy in Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley.
Rich was charged April 15 in that break-in and was arrested again the next day at a department store for allegedly shoplifting a pair of sunglasses and socks worth $30.
When 'Eight is Enough' was taken off the air in 1981, Rich went on to play roles in a couple of short-lived TV series.
Hoping to lead a more 'normal' life, Rich began attending Chatsworth High School. There, however, he fell in with the wrong crowd and began experimenting with drugs.
'I was 15 and realized I had been working most of my life,' he told the newspaper. 'I felt like I was almost ready to retire, I was so tired.'
Alcohol and cocaine abuse led to stints at the Betty Ford center and a drug rehabilitation program, but Rich returned to the abusive lifestyle.
Last year, he was arrested in West Hollywood and charged with drunken driving and placed on probation.
Van Patten said Rich has had to deal with rejection from an industry that still sees the young actor as sweet, little Nicholas.
'Adam was wildly popular (on 'Eight is Enough), ... and then he had a lot of trouble getting roles,' Van Patten said. 'He's short, he's in that awkward stage where he's not as cute as he used to be, so he's difficult to cast.'
Rich now is planning to enter another drug rehabilitation program and said he will take whatever punishment is handed down from his recent arrests.
He is scheduled to be arraigned May 1 on the burglary charge and, while he faces a possible prison sentence, similar cases usually mean just probation.
Rich will be in court again May 7 on the shoplifting arrest.
His publicist, Jeff Ballard, said he has not been able to find any reason for Rich's action in that incident. Rich was carrying $108 in cash and a charge card at the time.
The actor was also hard pressed to explain what happened.
'Some people are saying it was a cry for help, and I guess that's right,' he said. 'I am very remorseful, very embarrassed about this whole thing.'