Steve-O wants to makes this clear: He's an addict, not a role model. And despite the happy ending in Steve-O: Demise & Rise (Sunday, 10 pm/ET), an MTV documentary that chronicles his addiction and recovery, he is also not a success story, so don't treat him like one.
"Certainly a documentary about my downward spiral isn't going to keep me sober by any means," Steve-O tells TVGuide.com. "If anything, I feel like I'm being printed in the media as 'the sober guy.' I feel like that does more to set me up for a fall than really keep me sober. The last thing anyone who's working to stay sober wants is to be touted as some kind of example."
Ironically, that wasn't his initial intention with the one-hour special, which offers a harrowing and gritty look at the Jackass star's lifelong demons (alcoholism runs in his family). Seldom without a camera, Steve-O, who's 13 months sober, shot the footage himself — everything from snorting cocaine to snuffing hundreds of "whip-its" of nitrous oxide hits to his first sober birthday party in 18 years — with the hope of helping others. His efforts were misguided, he found out, after he watched the first cut of the documentary, primarily put together by his Jackass buddies, who staged an intervention last year.
"Watching myself do all those drugs just triggered me and I came away feeling like I want to get high," he says. "This whole disease of alcoholism and addiction, it really doesn't make any sense. It doesn't make any sense that I could watch that documentary, which is so creepy, so scary, and come away from it wanting to get high."
He resisted and continues to fight the urge daily. He says he nearly succumbed during his run on Dancing with the Stars after losing confidence, and "very recently" thought his efforts were futile and would relapse within two years. "Being the poster boy for sobriety is not going to work," Steve-O says. "There are going to be those times where my mind just turns on me and I'm powerless, so I can't sit there and tell anybody that I'm confident that I'm going to have long-term sobriety because I'm not. But if the documentary scares anyone straight, then that's fine. I can only do the best that I can today, and that's all."
The one-day-at-a-time philosophy notwithstanding, Steve-O still can't help but think about the future — the uncertainty of which frightens him more than his drug- and alcohol-fueled past. It's not a defeatist attitude, but a matter of being realistic.
"As disappointing and as devastating as it would be for a lot of people if I wound up back on drugs, that's just a possibility that could be a reality. I have a lot of work to do," he says. "What's next for me is to really separate what I do for work and what I do for myself. Who and what I am isn't really a celebrity and I want to work on who and what I am."
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