Written by Brian Whitney | Published 07/17/17
Adam Jasinski has always had a larger than life personality. He is a charmer, a hustler and a hard worker. He used his many skills to walk away as the winner of Big Brother 9, the immensely popular CBS reality show that features contestants who live in the same Los Angeles house, all living under constant observation while they plot against each other, voting to evict one person each week. As a winner, he also walked away with the prize money, and he quickly decided to use his charm, hustle and hard work to fund a rather lucrative business dealing drugs. Now, after a humiliating arrest and years of incarceration, he has been sober for almost eight years, and is using his hard work and hustle to help others in recovery.
“Everyone says rehab doesn’t work. Rehab totally works, what doesn’t work is what happens afterwards. What I do every day is what keeps me sober, aftercare is what matters.”
Jasinski always had a history with drugs and partying growing up. He used pretty much constantly as a teen, and also sold drugs to fund his own use. He started off just smoking weed, but eventually started using pretty much everything he could get his hands on, including hashish, heroin, cocaine, LSD and crack. This scene continued into adulthood, as he spent pretty much all of his time either partying and using, or trying to figure out how to get enough money to do so. Of this time Jasinski told The Fix: “Everything was always up and down, things would seem to go well for a while when I was partying and then I would crash. I learned how to finance my drug use early, and it wasn’t that I was a hard core drug user back then. I would use for a while then be clean, but every single time I went back to using it was worse than before.”
Jasinski has bipolar disorder, but it was undiagnosed until after his arrest, and like many people in that situation, he self-medicated, although Jasinski did it harder than most and he continued to hit it hard until he hit his bottom, when he was arrested and then sentenced to four years in federal prison for drug trafficking and tax evasion.
For many, that would have been the end of the story, just another guy who had it all and lost it because of drugs, but for Jasinski it was just the beginning. Instead of giving up on himself he has turned his life around. His life and his career are now both focused around recovery. He is an unpaid mentor and consultant at Oceans Medical Centers, which is a drug and mental health treatment center opened by his mother Denise and a co-owner, and he has written a book: My Kid’s On Drugs. Now What? In his book he discusses “how to be sure your child is using, how to stage a successful intervention, how to select the best rehab center, what to expect of rehab, how to find stellar aftercare, how to guide your child down the path of long-term sobriety after treatment.” He is also a sought after public speaker, leading seminars on stopping stigma, and how we as a society assess and approach addiction and mental illness. He told me his book “is a playbook for parents, the biggest hurdle is denial, parents don’t believe that their kids are on drugs. It all hinges on how you talk to your kids.”
All of this would never have been imaginable a few years ago. While he laid low on Big Brother early on and stayed out of the way, eventually his big personality and street smarts helped him outwit his Big Brother competitors and win $500,000. He got clean at one point during the show: “I was dirty in the house, I brought pills with me, I had prescriptions for opiates, then I kicked those in Big Brother, I kicked them the first week, I wanted the money so I wanted to be at my best. I kicked it the same week I was on slop ( a type of food used as a punishment on Big Brother) so I was kind of able to mask my withdrawal symptoms, people just thought I was super irritable because of that.”
But being clean didn’t last long once he got out with all his new cash: “Within a day of winning I was doing a bunch of coke and taking pills.”
The economy had tanked so he spent some of his winnings on buying some property in Florida, but much of it went to fund his lifestyle, and his new drug dealing operation. Approximately half of his $500,000 prize went to buy drugs, for his own use, and to sell. “I was hoarding a whole bunch of pills so I could have them for myself, and all of a sudden I realized I could make 20 grand and have as many pills as I wanted. I was doing it for 8 or 9 months, I made a ton of money, I blew a lot of it, it was a fucking mess–I hated every minute of it. It was so depressing. My life was horrible.” It didn’t take long for people to start taking notice of his new lifestyle, and he soon was on the radar of the DEA.
He was arrested after flying to Boston with 2,000 oxycodone pills in a sock that he was going to sell to someone who turned out to be an informant. That was the last day that Jasinski ever used drugs. After his arrest, he was way more freaked out about the fact that he couldn’t do drugs anymore than the thought of going to prison. “I was so depressed that I couldn’t do coke anymore, I wasn’t thinking about how much jail would suck or my poor mom and what she was going through. I just was bummed about not having any more coke.”
He posted a $200,000 bond and went to an inpatient drug treatment center in Massachusetts, then followed that up with outpatient treatment for his mental health issues, which was the first time that he ever was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. “It was the first time I learned about recovery, and it was the first time I was really clean since I was 13 years old. I learned about addiction and about why I think how I think. Then I was put on house arrest and was allowed to live with my mom. For the first time I got help for my mental health issues and it saved my life.” Then he was sentenced to four years in federal prison for drug trafficking and tax evasion—he never reported his $500,000 winnings from Big Brother.
When in prison Jasinski focused on his recovery and his mental health, read constantly about mental health issues and addiction, went to counseling, and was finally put on the right combination of medication to help with his bipolar disorder.
He is a strong advocate for people getting help for their mental health issues and addictions. “Even now in South Florida,” he told me, “there are like 900 rehabs and two mental health programs. People don’t realize how much mental health plays into addiction. In prison, I had to fight like crazy to get the help I needed but they did it—by the time I got out I had a routine I was sticking to and I still stick to now.”
If there is one thing that he knows for sure, it’s how important it is to work on his recovery every day. “Everyone says rehab doesn’t work. Rehab totally works, what doesn’t work is what happens afterwards. What I do every day is what keeps me sober, aftercare is what matters.”