Addiction specialist Dr. Drew Pinsky said Saturday that pain medications likely led disc jockey DJ AM, a former drug addict who died suddenly Friday, away from his sober path.
“It very slowly and subtly reawakens addiction,” Pinksy said of pain medication in an interview Saturday. “I’m not saying it was inappropriately prescribed, I’m saying he didn’t know the risks.”
DJ AM, whose real name was Adam Goldstein, was found dead in his apartment Friday evening. A crack pipe and prescription pills were found in the Manhattan apartment, said a law enforcement official, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing.
Goldstein was 36 years old.
Pinsky is the host of VH1’s “Celebrity Rehab,” where he helps troubled stars get off of drugs and alcohol.
Pinksy said he believed pain medication Goldstein took for injuries sustained in the plane crash that required two skin graft surgeries reawakened his addiction to drugs. Goldstein had long preached sobriety and openly discussed his earlier addictions to drugs including crack cocaine and Ecstasy.
A medical examiner’s office spokeswoman said Saturday that toxicology tests, expected to take weeks, are needed to determine what killed Goldstein. An autopsy Saturday was inconclusive, said the spokeswoman, Ellen Borakove.
Pinsky also expressed his grief over the loss of Goldstein. He said he considered himself a friend of the late star, and though they had not spoken for “a while,” the two relayed messages to each other through friends and were “very close.”
Goldstein was to debut his own show centering on rehab in October on MTV called “Gone Too Far,” featuring Goldstein staging interventions with young people battling their own addictions. MTV said it has not decided on the show’s future.
In an interview with The Associated Press last month to promote the show, Goldstein said that it was terrifying watching people go through harrowing addictions and it made him recall his own battles.
“I am a recovering drug addict. When I see it and I’m in their room and the paraphernalia and the whole lifestyle and everything, I still, 11 years later, have that little thing in my head that starts thinking, ‘Oh, where’s that? I wonder what that is?’”
But Pinsky laughed at the notion that being close to addicts may have caused Goldstein to relapse.
“That’s not in any way the kind of thing that leads to someone relapsing,” he said.
Pinsky called Goldstein a model for people going through recovery and said the disc jockey was selfless when it came to helping others overcome their addictions.
“He sponsors other people, and in his words, will go to the mat supporting people on their recovery,” Pinsky said.
“He was a very supportive recovery person.”
Pinsky recalled how when Crazytown’s Seth “Shifty” Binzer, a former patient on “Celebrity Rehab,” was going through his recovery process, Pinksy urged him to reach out to DJ AM, who was a former member of the defunct band, to help learn how to stay sober.
“He was someone I referred people to to learn about recovery,” said Pinsky.
Which is why he finds the circumstances of his death so shocking: “It was so much of a surprise I have a hard time believing it.”