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September 16, 2014

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Investigators continue to probe DJ AM’s death

Popular spinner was 11 years sober from addiction to crack cocaine

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Joe Fury / N9NE Group

DJ AM performs at Rain Nightclub at the Palms.

As investigators continue to piece together the details surrounding DJ AM’s death last week, mounting evidence suggests drugs were a factor in death of the famed DJ.

Police discovered DJ AM, Rain’s Friday night resident DJ, dead in his Manhattan apartment on Friday. He was face down in his bed.

The 36-year-old was wearing only sweatpants when his body was found and drug paraphernalia was reportedly found in the apartment. Friends of the DJ, whose real name is Adam Goldstein, said he had been prescribed painkillers after he sustained severe burns during a deadly plane crash in September 2008 in South Carolina. His performing partner, Travis Barker, was also seriously burned in the crash.

Investigators speaking on the condition of anonymity told the Associated Press that they found more than pills in Goldstein’s apartment: A pipe was also found in his bedroom.

New York Police Department Lt. Mike Wysokowski told the Las Vegas Sun on Monday, “Officially, the NYPD has not released (details regarding) anything that was recovered from the room (and) no further details will be released at this time.”

Still, numerous media outlets, including The New York Post, New York Times and TMZ, have stated a crack pipe was recovered from Goldstein’s room.

The DJ openly admitted to previously using crack cocaine in his early 20s, but said he has been clean for more than a decade. He called himself a “recovering drug addict” who was “11 years sober” during his last interview with MTV news.

What’s more, Goldstein recently started filming an intervention-based TV show with the network, for which he confronted 18- to 23-year-old drug addicts and helped them along the road to recovery. He signed to do the project in April and had reportedly shot eight episodes of the show.

Goldstein explained the temptation he experienced while filming “Gone Too Far” during a July 29 interview with MTV.

He recounted an episode that dealt with his self-described “drug of choice,” crack cocaine, that made him realize how close to the edge he still was: “I bought a crack pipe … (because) I just wanted to show how easy it was… (and) I realized, after I was holding it, that my palms were sweaty, and I was like, ‘wait a minute. This is not smart for me to be holding this, you know?’”

“I started really kind of freaking out and just having to kind of vent,” Goldstein recalled, adding, “It kind of put that image back in my head.”

UNLV addictions specialist Larry Ashley said MTV was “playing with fire” when they decided to place Goldstein, a recovering addict, on the front lines of his addiction.

“I don’t think it was a good idea at all,” Ashley said. “But I think that it makes good TV. I think there’s a difference (between) good TV and having the best interest of your (talent): They’re not always compatible.”

On Monday the Sun asked MTV about any safeguards the network put in place to ensure Goldstein did not relapse as a result of filming. The spokesperson declined to comment on what, if any, precautions MTV had taken.

Ashley said former addicts shouldn’t participate in such reality shows, no matter how clean they may be, and regardless of how long they’ve stayed sober.

“I’d tell them to think twice about doing it,” he said. “I’ve worked with entertainers and I’ve seen those challenges. … There’s a strong relapse potential.”

He said being involved in a project like “Gone Too Far” “just increases the odds of falling on your face” for a recovering addict such as Goldstein.

Goldstein acknowledged the demons he faced while filming “Gone Too Far” during the same July 29 interview with MTV.

“It’s been tough,” he said. “I’m, like, on the borderline, of seeing people in their disease that I used to be in.”

Ashley said that people in Goldstein’s situation should “make sure that they have a very good support system and be in touch with their triggers and their relapse issues” to make sure they stay focused, clean and sober.

“It’s going to be very intense,” he warned.

Goldstein used the same phrase when describing the show.

“It’s pretty intense,” he told MTV on July 29. “Every shoot I have to kind of calm down after because there’s some seriously intense moments.”

Still, he seemed confident that he was strong enough to stay sober. In fact, he seemed to suggest the show helped him stay clean by reminding him of just how low he could go.

“I have to know why I’m there, you know, and there’s no better way for me to remember how low my bottom was than to see someone else at their bottom and offer them a chance out of it,” he said.

He also said helping addicts beat their drug habits was a personal quest of his, even before the MTV cameras started rolling.

Still, less than a month after giving the interview, Goldstein was dead.

In light of Goldstein’s death, MTV is not sure whether “Gone Too Far” will be included in the network’s fall lineup as planned. The show was expected to go to air in October.

The network issued a statement on Friday, saying, "Goldstein's death is an incredible loss to the music community, his friends, family and his fans, and to those of us who had the privilege of working with him. MTV was honored to support him as he helped young people battle their own addictions. Our heartfelt thoughts go out to his family."

Goldstein committed to “Gone Too Far” in April, four months before his alleged relapse and death.

He referenced filming an episode of the show last week.

“Just wrapped filming GTF in CT,” he wrote on Aug. 25. “Back to Dusk in AC to DJ tonight with Jesse Marco.”

His final post came a little more than two hours later.

“New York, New York. Big city of dreams, but everything in New York ain't always what it seems,” he said, quoting Grand Master Flash.

If drug-related allegations are true, it will mean that Goldstein, too, wasn’t quite like he seemed.

An initial autopsy was performed over the weekend but was unable to definitively determine the cause of death.

More tests will be needed to find out both what killed Goldstein and if drugs were a factor – and it will take weeks to get those results.

Meanwhile, many of the DJ’s friends and colleagues were quick to dismiss drug-related allegations on last week.

“TMZ and NY Post are (expletive) foul talking about ‘drug paraphernalia’ in their headlines,” Brooklyn and Montreal-based DJ, DJ A-Trak, alleged via Twitter on Friday. “Dude is/was a role model.”

Las Vegas-based DJ Scotty Boy, Scott Schroer, also defended Goldstein.

“He was on prescription pills from the pain he was in because of the burns (he sustained in the plane crash),” he said, adding, “I don’t think he committed suicide or overdosed on purpose.”

Until the Office of the New York Medical Examiner releases its findings, however, all drug-related speculation is just that: speculation.

“The medical examiner will eventually release a report regarding the cause of death,” Wysokowski said. Still, he was unable to say when the results will be retuned, or when the report will be made public.

Melissa Arseniuk writes about Las Vegas entertainment and celebrity events. She can be reached at 702-948-7823 or by e-mail at [email protected].