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DJ AM Dies -- Addiction Kills Again

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Jennifer Ginsberg: Celebrity disc jockey DJ AM -- also known as Adam Goldstein -- was found dead in SoHo on Friday. According to authorities, his body was found in his seventh floor apartment around 5:20 PM, and was surrounded by prescription drugs and a crack pipe.

Most recently, DJ AM survived a horrific plane crash last September. He reportedly got clean and sober over 10 years ago, and in many interviews spoke with great awareness about the issues that led him down the path of addiction. With insight, depth, and humor, DJ AM also talked about his recovery. During a July 29 interview, he said he hoped to help other addicts on his MTV substance-abuse intervention show "Gone Too Far."

"The inspiration for the show is that I am a recovering drug addict. I have 11 years sober," he said. "Something I have always done since the beginning of my sobriety is work with other addicts in recovery. So when the question came up [from MTV]: 'Hey, we should work something out.' It's like, 'What do you like to do?' And other than DJ, that's kind of what I've always done."

This was a man who clearly took his recovery seriously, but tragically his addiction won in the end. Sources report that DJ AM was struggling with depression and post-traumatic stress in the aftermath of the plane crash, and he was more than likely prescribed pain medication for the injuries that occurred.

The question is, when a recovering addict experiences something physically and emotionally traumatic like DJ AM did, is relapse inevitable?

What addicts gain in recovery is a box of tools, which if used diligently, will support sobriety even in the most difficult of circumstances. They learn how to stay clean through illness, grief, trauma, and depression. But matching calamity with sobriety does not come easily for most, and the amount of footwork required to achieve this can feel daunting. That being said, I know people who have stayed clean and sober after the death of young children, through divorce, and while battling terminal illnesses. Any problem, no matter how difficult, can be made exponentially worse by picking up a drink or a drug.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of DJ AM, who touched so many people with his music, humor, and passion for life. He was a man of strength and character, and an incredible example of sobriety and recovery in "Young Hollywood." Addiction is a ruthless illness of denial, and once an addict is in the grips of it, all bets are off. DJ AM's addiction didn't care how talented, kind, and loved he was, or how many reasons he had to be healthy and alive. It didn't care about his family, his accomplishments, or his friends. It only cared about getting him high, isolated, and dead. That is the very essence of the malady.

May alcoholics and addicts everywhere take pause and remember -- once an addict, always an addict. Stay vigilant about your recovery. And if you are in trouble, get help now.

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2 comments so far | Post a comment now
CV August 31, 2009, 2:25 PM

What I’ve read at another source was that something he was prescribed (for pain or anxiety) is considered to be a loaded gun, as far as giving it to a recovering drug addict. I’d like to think that a doctor prescribing such a drug would check into the patient’s addictive history if applicable and exhaust all other options prior (not saying that the doctor didn’t do this).

Jamison Manges January 14, 2011, 3:54 PM

This is a scenario to make up things as you go dealing with faxing that.

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