I thought I would never ever see a more horrifying example of addiction than “Grease’s” Jeff Conaway on “Celebrity Rehab, ” vacillating between mindlessly drooling on himself and screaming like a banshee at no one in particular while withdrawing from opiates. Then I tuned in to “Celebrity Rehab Presents: Sober House,” “Celebrity Rehab’s” younger sibling, and watched with disbelief as former Guns ‘ n ‘ Roses drummer, and “Celebrity Rehab 2” alumnus, Steven Adler flailed around the titular “sober living” facility, glassy-eyed one moment, then falling into a stupor the next, after sneaking heroin into the abode.
Named after the halfway house to which recovering addicts move after completing a stint in a residential rehabilitation program to begin to reintegrate themselves into a world full of temptations, the show, like “Celebrity Rehab” provides a disturbingly real look at addiction and the people in its grip. In addition to Adler, “Celebrity Rehab” alumni Rodney King (yes, that Rodney King), model Amber Smith, “American Idol’s” Nikki McKibbin, Crazytown’s Seth “Shifty” Binzer and ex-porn star and one-time California gubernatorial candidate Mary Carey inhabit the house. (Andy Dick will be moving in later this season to help battle his much publicized addictions as well.) Model and actress Jennifer Gimenez, a recovering addict herself, manages the house with the aid of Dr. Drew Pinsky’s team.
This show is an absolute gem tucked in between such frivolous fare as “Real Chance at Love” and “I Love Money.” VH1 and Dr. Drew have created possibly the world’s most effective “don’t do drugs” PSA with the two series. That might be a bit of an exaggeration, but everyone I talk to about the show finds it extremely compelling and disturbing. The actions of the participants on the show don’t just belie the glamour of the Hollywood lifestyle, they fully expose the baseness of addiction.
Remarkably, it’s not just the unbelievable behaviors of these celebrities that draws the viewer in but the absolute compassion that Dr. Drew and his colleagues show these addicts; celebrity addicts whose situation the rest of us might find titillating or pitiable or both.
“Sober House” airs Thursday nights on VH1 at 10:00 p.m.