Fan Fare

Entertainment behind the scenes

DJ AM’s death a classic case of drug relapse

By Dean Goodman
August 31, 2009

Toxicology reports for celebrity disc jockey Adam “DJ AM” Goldstein, who died of an apparent drug overdose in New York on Friday, aren’t due back for a couple of weeks. But addiction-medicine specialist Dr. Drew Pinsky is in no doubt about what killed his friend. He told listeners of his syndicated “Loveline” radio show Sunday that Goldstein — a long-time recovering addict who was serious about maintaining sobriety — was battling a terminal illness with a worse prognosis than cancer. 

drdrewGoldstein was likely — and appropriately — put on prescription medications to help him deal with post-traumatic stress disorder following a fatal plane crash last September, said Pinsky. 

The Board-certified physician and author is pictured at left in an undated photo taken from his MySpace page with Goldstein (center) and Los Angeles radio DJ Ted Stryker (right). 

“I don’t know how severe his symptoms were, but sometimes it’s reasonable to take a risk with that if somebody is in real misery,” Pinsky said. “Our job is not to make people miserable. But he stayed on those medicines, and I cannot tell you how frequently I see that take people out. 

“No one sits down and tells them, ‘As long as you are on that medicine your disease is active. I know you feel like it’s under control. But you can’t stay sober when that part of your brain is being massaged.’ 

“I’ve seen it so many times … maybe thousands of times, now. I just wish I’d been able to have that conversation with him, and he may or may not have listened. 

Celebrity gossip Web site TMZ said DJ AM developed a dependency on Xanax and related anti-anxiety drugs as a result of the South Carolina plane crash that left both him and Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker with burns and killed four others.

“If you’re taking an opioid or benzodiazepine, you will go out on your drug of choice,” Pinsky said. “You can’t stay sober and return to a flourishing life when that part of the reward system that is activated by addiction is pharmacologically enhanced or activated. It just doesn’t work.”

In paying tribute to Goldstein, Pinsky described him as “one of the most solidly recovering guys I’ve ever met … he taught me about selfless acts of giving.” Indeed, Goldstein had just finished taping a new MTV reality show, “Gone Too Far,” in which he helped young people overcome their own addictions. No decision has been made about the future of the show, which was due to premiere in October.

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