Score one for Celebrity Rehab.
Jessica Sierra, the fourth-season American Idol contestant who became far more famous for her postshow troubles than anything she accomplished onstage, credits her time spent under the care of real-life M.D. and TV savior Dr. Drew Pinsky—and, interestingly, a media ban—for saving her from the ravages of substance abuse.
"I did have an issue with drugs and alcohol, and I think the media just intensified that for me," Sierra, who completed her latest treatment program with Drew in January, said in an exclusive sit-down with E! News. "I think the media ban did save my life."
Following an arrest for disorderly conduct and resisting an officer in December 2007, a Florida judge sentenced the aspiring singer to 12 months in rehab for violating probation on a previous drug bust and ordered her to stay at least 100 feet away from the media's cameras and microphones.
"Being a young girl and being thrown on a stage with all this media attention…it's all around you," says Sierra. "You're going out to clubs and you're hanging out with all these people and it's fun and it's exciting and you don't really know what to do with it.
"Addiction, it just got me."
Sierra's last arrest occurred after she had participated in the first season of the VH1 reality series Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew and Pinsky appeared in court on her behalf.
He advised the sentencing judge that Sierra needed at least another year of treatment to really get her act together.
But though she had a relapse after their first go-round together, the 17-months-sober Sierra gives Pinsky credit for saving her life when he invited her to Celebrity Rehab.
"I was really high actually when I got the phone call," Sierra says. "I was looking around and my friends were getting high and I'm just sitting there, looking at myself. I hadn't slept in days and for me it was like, ‘I'm not doing anything with my life. I'm sitting here wasting my life away.' "
The 23-year-old is now working on an album and a new reality show and otherwise trying to put her life back together.
"I can actually feel now," says Sierra. "I can have emotions and know when to feel sad and know when to feel happy and enjoy the ups and downs of life. I wasn't able to do that before."