Even 11 Years Sober, DJ AM Succumbed to Addiction

Before he was found dead at the age of 36 from an apparent drug overdose, DJ AM was considered a model in the addiction recovery community.

In an interview at the end of July, DJ Am, whose real name was Adam Goldstein, claimed that he had been sober 11 years after kicking an addiction to crack cocaine, his "drug of choice."

In October, MTV had planned to debut his reality show, "Gone Too Far," in which he and concerned family members staged interventions for drug abusers.

VIDEO: DJ AM found dead in NYC apartmentPlay

The inspiration for the show, he told MTV in the interview, was "I'm a recovering drug addict."

"Something I've always done since the beginning of my sobriety is work with other addicts in recovery," he continued. "Other than DJ, that's kind of what I've always done. So now I'm doing the same thing just with a camera on."

Goldstein admitted that he experienced something of a flashback during the taping of his MTV show when he went into a New York bodega or convenience store and purchased a crack pipe to prove how easy it was to do.

"My palms were sweaty," he said during the interview. "I was like, 'Wait a minute, this is not smart for me to be holding this.' I started really kind of freaking out and having to kind of vent. And it kind of put that image back in my head."

Video: Celebrity DJ, Adam Goldstein found dead in his NYC apartment.Play

Scott Basinger, an expert on addiction and recovery at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said drug addiction can be so permanently ingrained or wired in addicts that even talking about their drug of choice will elicit the same reaction as actual using it.

"In the case of crack, the person will start to sweat, their pupils will dilate, their heart rate and breathing becomes more rapid…just like if they had smoked crack. It shows they are still very susceptible."

Since Goldstein's body was found Aug. 28 in his Manhattan apartment, along with a crack pipe and prescription pills, plans for his MTV show are in question, a spokeswoman at MTV told ABCNews.com.

Basinger called Goldstein's death a blow to the recovery community.

"It's real sad losing someone who was an icon of recovery," he said. "He was one of the best representatives of getting sober, living sober and staying sober. But even he was not immune."

Goldstein's slippery slide back into addiction may have begun with the South Carolina plane crash last year in which he was badly injured and four people were killed.

The plane was transporting Goldstein and Travis Barker, the drummer for punk band Blink-182, after a performance. The pair had formed a duo, TRVSDJ-AM.

Goldstein received skin grafts but was performing again a month later.

It appears, though, that he may have been in pain and anxious about flying – something his job as a celebrity DJ required. According to TMZ, Goldstein had become dependent on Xanax and other benzodiazepines, or anti-anxiety drugs, as a result of the plane crash.

Benzos, as they are known, are particularly tricky for recovering addicts, Basinger said.

"They literally remove that fear," Basinger said referring to Goldstein's fear of flying. "They also blot out a lot of emotional stuff. To an addict, they are very addicting for emotional management. They begin to feel the effects of the drug and forget that they have a drug problem. If they face another painful moment or anxious moment, they will reach for the drug instead of going to a meeting."

Goldstein's death is a cautionary tale, Basinger said.

"Addiction is life-long and recovery has to be life-long," he said. "One has to be diligent to their program.

"The saddest thing would be to say that sobriety and 12-step programs don't work," Basinger added. "The truth is they do work."

Basinger said it was up to Goldstein to tell the physician prescribing him pills that he was a recovering addict. But Basinger had a lot of ire toward physicians who prescribe pain and anxiety medications but don't delve deeply enough into their patients histories or follow-up to see if patients are abusing them.

After Anna Nicole Smith's death and most recently Michael Jackson's, Basinger called prescription drug abuse an "epidemic," saying it's a "bigger problem than all of the street drugs combined."

Basinger said Goldstein should have used one of his sponsors as a medication manager to dole out his meds pill by pill to keep him from abusing them.

He also thought the MTV show was ultimately a good thing for Goldstein, even if it reminded him of his own addiction. "I think doing the show for MTV was wonderful," he said. "People in recovery should do as much as that 12th step work at they can."

The 12th step refers to helping others through their recovery.

Goldstein remained an avowed believer in that.

"It's been tough, you know, I'm on the borderline of seeing people in the disease that I used to be in," he said. "But I have to know why I'm there. No better way for me to remember how low my bottom was than to see someone else at their bottom and offer them a chance out of it, which is what I've done."