Forrest’s Fire - Page 2

By Sacha Z. Scoblic 11/18/12

Before he was the sage of Celebrity Rehab, Bob Forrest was a notoriously drugged-out singer on the LA punk-rock scene. Now he's clean and devoted to helping save others. Meet addiction's unlikely idol. 

Saving Forrest Photo via

(page 2)

The film revealed that you could be a real jerk in your disease. Was that difficult to see?

Yes. I’d already kind of dealt with that but when you have a reputation of being very selfish, things get blown out of proportion and exaggerated. But I know the things that I did and where it came from and who it harmed. Basically, you’re talking about a bunch of kids, who are all drunk and high, trying to steer a career and a business in the right direction. It was just crazy. That’s why I quit [Thelonious Monster]—just to get out of that chaos and go do my own thing with managers who made me the number-one priority. Pete [Weiss] saw that as a betrayal, but you got to look out for yourself. That’s seen as selfish, and it was selfish. The way I did it was selfish. 

I think Perry Farrell hung out with me thinking, “Well, I’m not that bad.” 

You mentioned your friend John Frusciante. There’s disturbing footage in the film of a super-high Frusciante. It’s more disturbing than some of the footage of you.

Obviously I don’t like to think about it personally all that much, but other than John Frusciante—who then eventually got clean, which is also shown in the movie—there’s no worse a drug addict than me. No worse.  

So you put yourself right there with John Frusciante? 

You always have to have somebody you think is worse than you, so that you can continue. Some lower companions or whatever. John, though he had a lot of money, was a lower companion. So I could feel like, “Well, I’m not that bad.” I think Perry Farrell hung out with me thinking, “Well, I’m not that bad.” 

What has happened to everyone from that 1980s L.A. rock scene?

Everybody who has survived has transformed their lives. That’s the message that I think is so important. I don’t know what effect rehab centers have on addictions—not much it seems to me. But everyone I know who was a drug addict? A handful of people died, and everyone else is sober and thriving in one way or another. 

You have some pretty strong opinions on rehabs and how rehab should work.

 You have these rehabs and they’re just a bunch of bullshit. They discourage the addict from thinking that real sobriety is possible. Not everybody does AA, and that’s a very controversial thing. AA in its own doctrine says it isn’t for everybody, but now there’s a multibillion-dollar, for-profit industry that says, “Oh, yes it is for everybody, and if it’s not for you, then that’s your disease.” Rehabs have ruined AA. It’s really very destructive to the 12-step world. Now you go to an AA meeting, and all you hear is a bunch of psychobabble bullshit rehab-speak: “I’m anxious.” If I hear one more 20-year-old say he’s anxious, I’m going to fucking explode.  

The quarter-life crisis is very in vogue right now. There are a lot of anxious 20-somethings. 

Yeah, well, you’re supposed to be anxious! You’re coming into the world and the world is a harsh reality. You’re supposed to be a little apprehensive and concerned and cautious about it. Now they’re taught by psychiatry that it’s “anxiety” and that they need benzos in order to cope. It’s unbelievable how the world has evolved in the last 10 years. Half this country is on medication. 

Speaking of which, something that stood out in the film is your strong opinion about Suboxone. Are you against using Suboxone in every case?

No. Look, I know what it’s best used for. It’s best used like everybody markets it: for detox. It eases that day three of the opiate withdrawal. Longer maintenance would only be used for certain kinds of people: 50-year-old, 30-year junkies who are in and out of prison, hopeless, never going to have a thriving life. You would just medicate them and bring them into a relationship with a psychiatrist, and that patient population would be helped. But mostly, it would be used as a detox medication. 

 It’s not being used for either one. It’s being used for 19- and 20-year-old kids who’ve only been on dope for a year. It’s an interrelated for-profit thing. The rehab centers measure success by whether or not you go back to your drug of choice so the success rates at the rehab centers look better because kids are just staying on Suboxone and not migrating back to their drug of choice—whether it’s OxyContin or heroin. It’s all a big circle of mutual benefit. It’s certainly mutually beneficial to the drug companies. 

Oxycodone and Suboxone are the most deadly drugs that have ever come to market—ever. Before those two drugs were put on the market, the average opiate overdose deaths were 3,500 to 4,000 annually in the whole United States. That number’s going to be 30,000 this year; 26,000 more people are going to die. If this was happening because of some fucking lettuce that came from some fucking farm and had E. coli, you’d see it on the news! But the fact is: Nobody cares about drug addicts. They never have. They never will. 

You opened your own rehab. Do you still have the Hollywood Recovery Services?

I don’t have those offices anymore, basically because I couldn’t compete with the for-profit industry. We were just put out of business in a matter of 18 months by Malibu. The clients that used to always come to us to be with Dr. Drew, now they want to go have gourmet food and hug a horse or something. That basically put us out of business. I’m not downplaying that it is creative or therapeutic to do art therapy or hug a horse, but it has nothing to do with why you stop taking drugs. Nothing to do with it.  

So now I mostly do case management and placements and overseeing people. I’m on the road all the time. I drive out to Cliffside and Malibu, then I maybe I drive to Beverly Hills to see another client who’s out of treatment. Then I go see the television cast a couple of days while they are still here in Sober Living. You just can’t compete with the rehab machines that are out there. 

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix
Sacha Z(immerman) Scoblic.jpg

Sacha Z. Scoblic (Sacha Zimmerman) is the author of Unwasted and a Carter fellow for mental health journalism. She has written about Bob Forrest and the struggle for the new super painkiller, among other topics, for The Fix. You can find Sacha on Linkedin or follow her on Twitter.