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Celeb Rehab Success Stories

Now that Celebrity Rehab is part of television history, The Fix looks on the bright side of this dubious experiment in addiction treatment—by catching up with the alumni who've managed to stay clean.

  • Tom Sizemore (Season 3; opiates, benzodiazepines, methamphetamine, heroin, marijuana, Klonopin)

    The star of Saving Private Ryan and Black Hawk Down has a well-documented drug history with numerous arrests. Before Celebrity Rehab, VH1 even documented some of it on the ephemeral reality series Saving Sizemore. “Bob Forrest—who was kind of like my best friend in the 90s—(told) me in very cold terms that I was going to die if I didn’t get a grip on myself,” Sizemore told The Fix earlier this year. While CR wasn’t his first stint in treatment, there was something about Dr. Drew’s methods that worked. He’s been clean since May of 2009, and has gone on to land roles in numerous films and TV shows since then. And he knows exactly what he has to do in order to complete his comeback. “I’ve got three priorities,” he told The Fix. “One: stay clean. Two: stay clean. And three: stay clean.”

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  • Bai Ling (Season 5; alcohol)

    The Chinese actress achieved worldwide fame in the 90s for her work in films such as The Crow and Red Corner, but became more of a tabloid fixture in the 2000s following an arrest at LAX and multiple nip-slips. While on the show, she revealed painful childhood sexual abuse from age 14 to 17 when serving as a soldier in the People’s Liberation Army. “I had never seen the show before and didn’t know what rehab even meant,” Ling exclusively told The Fix. “But the second I met Dr. Drew and his staff, I knew they were very professional and had the best intentions for all of us, so that allowed me to open up.” Now seven months sober, Ling has made the most of her newfound clarity by completing two leading roles in horror flicks earlier this year, working on a tell-all book and even releasing her debut single, “Rehab,” on iTunes. “I’m establishing a new Bai Ling,” she said. “Before, I was overshadowed by the sexiness and craziness of the wild child in me. I still have that side, but if I want to win an Oscar, I have to be responsible for my choices and behavior, and conduct my life differently.”

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  • Brigitte Nielsen (Season 1; alcohol)

    Brigitte Nielsen’s decision to jump into a bathtub with Flavor Flav made quite a bit more sense when she checked into the Pasadena Recovery Center in 2007 for alcoholism. The model/actress and former wife of Sylvester Stallone said the fear of losing her family convinced her to get help. “If I was not going to get sober and stop smoking cigarettes, Mattia (her current husband) would have left me,” Nielsen said. “He gave me an ultimatum.”

    The Dane has been sober since July 2008, appearing on a number of reality shows and competitions throughout Europe, including one on German TV where she became the first celebrity to show themselves getting plastic surgery. “I’m lucky because if you have something to stay sober for, like I do with my kids and my husband, it’s very difficult to relapse,” she said.

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  • Ricco Rodriguez (Season 1; cocaine, marijuana and Valium)

    The mixed martial arts fighter was on top of the world in 2006 after winning the UFC heavyweight title, but came crashing down shortly after when he was given a six-month suspension by the California State Athletic Commission for testing positive for marijuana and cocaine, and then having his son taken away by child protective services after several domestic disputes with his girlfriend. At his worst, he went through an 8-ball per day. “Once your child is taken from you, you will do whatever you have to do to get them back,” Rodriguez has said. While his recent arrest for assault shows he still has some issues to work out, the fighter has apparently remained clean since his time on the show. He continues to compete throughout the globe, held a 12-fight win streak until earlier this summer and credits the show with saving his family. 

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  • Jaimee Foxworth (Season 1; marijuana)

    When the former Family Matters child star turned former adult film star checked in for treatment, the question on the mind of many viewers was, “People go to rehab for pot?” But Foxworth explained that she was chronically addicted to chronic, and that it had destroyed her motivation and sabotaged her career for over a decade. Her recovery was slow going at first—Foxworth said she began smoking pot almost immediately after leaving treatment. But after becoming pregnant with her son in September of 2008 (the father is longtime boyfriend Michael Shaw), she said her body reacted differently to marijuana and it was no longer enjoyable. She ceased smoking weed for her pregnancy in the summer of 2008 and, after having a single joint shortly after giving birth in May 2009, Foxworth has been drug free for well over two years. She even recently passed a drug test on an update show for her season of Celebrity Rehab. “Being sober has opened my eyes to a whole new world,” she's said. “I now look forward to years of joy to share with my child.”

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  • Amber Smith (Season 2; depressants, opiates)

    While the former L.A. Confidential castmate had become so addicted to depressants and opiates throughout her modeling and acting career that she ended up turning to escorting, since her time at the Pasadena Recovery Center, Smith has found other ways to earn cash: she not only went on the Rehab spinoff shows Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew and Sober House but she also earned a starring role in season two of the Cinemax softcore series Lingerie. Although she has not abused any prescription medications since leaving CR nearly four years ago—and has been praised by Dr. Drew for her recovery work—Smith continues to take Suboxone as prescribed by a doctor. “It’s an interim between painkillers and sobriety, but when I went off it, I had suicidal thoughts because I had no endorphins firing,” she said on Celebrity Rehab Revisited. “Since the show, I have been in a recovery bubble. All of my friends are sober and I have a sponsor.”

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  • Nikki McKibbin (Season 2; cocaine, alcohol, Adderall, ecstasy)

    Known as the rocker chick on the inaugural season of American Idol, McKibbin checked into rehab with numerous addictions under her belt—all, she said, an attempt at self-medicating to handle childhood sexual and physical abuse as well as the death of her mother due to an overdose. “What’s different with (Celebrity Rehab) is that I needed to learn how to deal with all this stuff,” she's said. “If you have an addict mentality and it’s hardwired from the beginning, you don’t know how to do anything else other than drink and take drugs to take the pain away.” McKibbin jumped from Rehab to Sober House and has since released several new singles and resumed performing across the country. Although a recent update show revealed she was taking prescription medication through her doctor, which she was unaware had addictive components to it, the mother of two has been clean and sober from all her former drugs of choice for more than three years. “I still have urges every day,” she has said. “I just have to learn to deal with them, and all I hope is that if someone sees my story, they’ll be inspired to go out and get some help.” 

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  • Jason Wahler (Season 4; alcohol)

    The story of MTV reality personality Wahler is something of a Hollywood cliche: the young and good-looking star saw too much money and too many women, ultimately leading to perpetual trouble with the law that included six drinking-related arrests. “It was realizing that I was sick and tired of being sick and tired, and one of the big motivations for me was my parents,” Wahler told The Fix earlier this year. “I was just damaging them emotionally and couldn’t take it anymore.” You barely saw Wahler during his time on the show, quite possibly because he was avoiding the hot-mess antics of fellow cast members Janice Dickinson and Jason Davis in order to focus on cleaning up his act. He has now been sober for over 16 months and has a job working with National Therapeutic Services in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa, California. “No more benders for me,” he said. “I just physically can’t take it anymore.”  

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  • Mackenzie Phillips (Season 3; heroin, cocaine)

    Since her breakout roles in the 70s on American Graffiti and One Day at a Time, Phillips has become best known for releasing a tell-all book where she revealed an incestual relationship with her father and a gnarly drug addiction that spanned four decades, ultimately leading to an August 2008 arrest at LAX. However, Phillips was one of the only celebrities to do due diligence before arriving at the Pasadena Recovery Center, having completed several months of sobriety before checking in. Phillips has stayed clean for over three years now and gone on to star in a few independent movies, but says the revelations in her autobiography destroyed her relationship with her family and her acting career. “I knew my book was not going to be a resume builder or a five-episode arc on House,” Phillips has said. “But I felt compelled to tell my story as it happened, not as I wish it happened. So, no, I’m not a working actor at this point. I wish I was. I know I’m good at what I do.”

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  • Jessica Sierra (Season 1; cocaine, alcohol)

    McKibbin isn’t the only American Idol vet to have addiction troubles. Fellow contestant Sierra was arrested for assault and possession of cocaine prior to appearing on her season of Celebrity Rehab. A well-publicized and embarrassing arrest after her time on the show led Dr. Drew to step in and request the judge sentence her to rehab at the Pasadena Recovery Center instead of a possible 10-year prison stint. “In the midst of my addiction, I guess I didn’t really think I had a problem,” Sierra has admitted. “I was always getting loaded so I wasn’t clear minded.” After a court-appointed 12 month stint with Dr. Drew, the singer has been clean from cocaine and alcohol for nearly four years, and shot a music video last year in support of her soon-to-be released debut album. However, she recently admitted on an update show to getting a prescription for anti-anxiety medication from a quack doctor. “I’m going to a new chapter of my life,” she has said. “All the bad stuff, all the bad karma, everything. I’m starting over.”

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  • Dwight Gooden (Season 5; cocaine, alcohol, Ambien)

    The legendary baseball player was one of the most feared pitchers of the 80s, winning Rookie of the Year in 1984 and the National League Cy Young Award in 1985. However, a heavily publicized cocaine addiction led to him being suspended twice in the mid-90s, followed by a self-imposed prison stint in 2006. “I know I cheated myself,” Gooden has said. “I should’ve been a Hall of Famer.” Although he is the first to admit that he has been to rehab six times in total, Gooden has remained clean and sober since appearing on the show earlier this year. He is now looking to open a baseball academy for kids in Newark, New Jersey. “I’m very happy now,” Gooden says. “At 46, I’m still learning about myself, but I am getting more comfortable in my own skin. I’m just blessed to be here these days. It’s a good feeling."

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  • Jeremy Jackson (Season 5; steroids)

    David Hasselhoff’s son on Baywatch fell into the trap of many former child stars, succumbing to alcohol and crystal meth addictions before getting clean in 1990. However, Jackson checked in on the final season of Rehab for a less conventional addiction to human growth hormones, which he had spent $200,000 on over the course of three years. “For me, steroids were a distraction,” said Jackson. “I stopped auditioning and I stopped doing the things that were important to me. “That’s when it became unhealthy to me.” With the help of Dr. Drew and his staff, Jackson threw away all the steroids in his house and has remained off them since his time on the show. He also recently completed a starring spot in the horror-comedy flick Blood Effects, his first feature length movie role in six years. “It doesn’t matter what I look like on the outside,” Jackson has said. “It matters what I feel on the inside. That’s what I really re-connected with on the show.”

    McCarton Ackerman's work has appeared in Time Out New YorkThe Huffington Post, abcnews.com and usopen.org, among others. He previously wrote about Carré Otis for The Fix.

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By McCarton Ackerman 12/27/11
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