The 'Jackass' Effect: Drugs, Arrests, and Recovery

By David Konow 02/06/18

Behind the stunts and pranks, the Jackass crew was masking their pain with substance use.

cast of jackass
The 'Jackass' crew at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards

Bursting onto the scene in 2000, Jackass, launched by Johnny Knoxville, became an infamous phenomenon, a show featuring ridiculous, painful and dangerous stunts. Yet a number of the Jackass cast members suffered from addiction, including Bam Margera, who checked into rehab after a DUI arrest in January, Chris Raab, Stephen “Steve-O” Glover, and the late Ryan Dunn, who died in a drunk driving accident in 2011.

Some in the Jackass crew turned to drugs to deal with their stunt injuries. As Raab told Page Six, “If you got hurt, you were like, ‘Oh, I can just take a pill for that. And you justify it’s a painkiller, I’m in pain. I broke my ankle. I need this. And then you justify it to yourself if you broke your arm, you’d need [another painkiller] too. And before you know it, you’re just so caught up in it. Then what happens is people are like, ‘Raab, you have a drinking problem, you’re doing too many drugs’ and you’re like, ‘I’m not as bad as this person and this person,’ and you’re surrounded by a bunch of drug addicts and alcoholics and you’re just pointing the fingers at each other.”

Raab added that he “did a lot of cocaine and I drank my ass off pretty much seven days a week. [Jackass] was a perfect time for my addiction to manifest...” Raab then began isolating himself, pulling away from the Jackass crew, and at one point he even thought of suicide before getting sober. (He’s now been sober for eight-and-a-half years.)

Commenting on Bam’s recent rehab stay, Raab said, “He’s got a long road to recovery and I hope that things happen. I check in, of course. I care for him. [Addiction] destroys people and it’s a shame because he was a young guy in shape and a great skateboarder and drugs robbed him of that. It did the same thing to me and it’s hard to watch one of your best friends getting destroyed by it.”

The fact that Bam got busted for a DUI was tough on the Jackass crew because they lost one of their closest friends, Dunn, from drunk driving, with his blood-alcohol content, 0.196, more than twice the legal limit. Dunn also killed his passenger, Zachary Hartwell, in the crash. Raab says, “It completely destroyed me when he died.”

Like Raab, Steve-O also has a lengthy period of sobriety under his belt, and speaking of Bam’s rehab stay to TMZ, he said, “All anybody wants is to see him happy and healthy. You just gotta, at a certain point, surrender to the process.”

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In addition to contributing for The Fix, David Konow has also written for Esquire, Deadline, LA Weekly, Village Voice, The Wrap, and many other publications and websites. He is also the author of the three decade history of heavy metal, Bang Your Head (Three Rivers Press), and the horror film history Reel Terror (St Martins Press). Find David on LinkedIn and Facebook.