Rehab Realities Hit Home in Dr. Drew's 'Sober House'

Dr. Drew Pinsky's new reality show turns cameras on addicts after rehab.

January 26, 2009, 1:20 AM

Jan. 27, 2009 — -- Rehab isn't the real obstacle.

According to the characters in addiction specialist Dr. Drew Pinsky's latest television project, the true test is emerging from the cocoon of treatment and staying away from the bottle, the pills, the drugs or whatever precipitated the downward spiral in the first place. Like moths to a flame, they all yearn to get burned again.

"If you give yourself the opportunity to be alone, to let yourself do it. For me, it didn't even take days. It was hours to where I smoked heroin and ended up back in jail," former Guns 'N Roses drummer and rehab veteran Steven Adler told

So was born "Sober House" -- Pinsky's attempt to keep some of the stars from Seasons 1 and 2 of "Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew" on the straight and narrow.

"Rehab" chronicled famous patients as they underwent a 21-day detoxification and rehab program at Las Encinas Hospital in Pasadena, Calif., where Pinsky is the co-medical director.

"Celebrity Rehab Presents Sober House," an eight-episode series that premiered Jan. 15 on VH1, puts a group of post-rehab addicts in a supervised sober environment with structure and rules, like mandatory curfews, chores and meetings with Pinsky, as a middle ground between treatment center and real world.

Along with Adler, who starred in Season 2 of "Celebrity Rehab," cast mates include model/actress Amber Smith and comedian Andy Dick, who never appeared in "Celebrity Rehab" but entered the house after deciding he wanted Pinsky's help in learning how to live sober.

"I started drinking at age 14. It's been a long, slow road to recovery," Dick told Though he initially hated the idea of cameras documenting his quest for sobriety, "I came to the realization that I could actually help people. The only time people see my addiction is when I'm literally in the throws of it. Why would I not want people to see the other side that comes with it, the part where I'm struggling?"

"The guy editing the show is now 23 days sober because of watching me -- because of editing and watching my story," Dick said, noting that he's now more than six months clean. "Now if I'm helping the editor, imagine, I've got to be able to reach a lot of people who normally would not have considered getting sober."

In addition to documenting recovery, as with all reality TV, "Sober House" doles out its fair share of drama. One day into shooting, Adler was arrested on suspicion of narcotics possession and jailed on $45,000 bail. He subsequently returned to rehab for four months.

But "Sober House" also reflects a greater trend in the substance abuse field: lengthening treatment time for addicts from the traditional 28 to 30 days to 90 days of supervision or longer.

The Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif., began offering a 90-day residential treatment program more than a year ago that now attracts about one-third of all clients. More than half the clients at Malibu's celebrity-frequented Promises Treatment Center opt for a 45- to 90-day regimen.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, between 40 percent and 60 percent of people relapse after drug treatment. Smith, who battled a 16-year-long addiction to painkillers, hopes "Sober House" will inspire others to combat that statistic by seeking out a structured living environment like the one Pinsky provided her after rehab.

"I'd advocate it for everyone," she told "It's the halfway mark between rehab and real life. At the beginning of sobriety, you have to be pushed. The minute you get out of rehab and get home, back to the same environment, you're a goner."

ABC News' research department contributed to this report.

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