‘Summer House’ star Carl Radke gets candid about his sobriety journey

Tune into We Should Talk every Thursday, where In The Know’s Gibson Johns interviews your favorite celebrities and influencers. Subscribe to We Should Talk here.

Carl Radke has had a momentous season of Summer House, for reasons equally heartbreaking and uplifting, and the reality star is a changed man because of it.

Carl, who has been on the cult favorite Bravo hit since its inception, was in a wonderful place in his life heading into season 5, especially coming off of his rough fourth go-round. Mostly sober and working with co-stars Kyle Cooke and Amanda Batula at Loverboy, he was at the top of his game as viewers emotionally watched him watch over Zoom as his mother got married, focusing on his loved ones and bettering himself instead of partying. A few weeks later, Carl found out on camera that his brother died of an overdose. His housemates rallied around him as viewers followed watched him grieve and slowly start drinking again.

For the latest episode of In The Know’s pop culture interview series, We Should Talk, Carl Radke opened up about his sobriety journey, dealing with the loss of his brother, the support he’s received from fans and co-stars alike and ultimately deciding to live fully sober earlier this year. He also discussed some of the drama from season 5 of Summer House, including his fight with Luke Gulbranson and his relationship with Ciara Miller.

“I just don’t think alcohol is for me,” Carl told In The Know. “Even in the last almost four months, spending more time with my friends and being social but not drinking and honestly having pretty good success with it, I just feel much better about it. And I think I have the glow-up to match it!”

Listen to Summer House star Carl Radke’s full episode of We Should Talk below, and keep reading for highlights from the interview:

Carl Radke on where he was in his life going into Summer House season 5: “I’ve grown a ton. I was 31 when season 1 started; [now] I’m 36. It’s been a lot of formative years of growth, and I’ve clearly done that on TV. Watching last season, I couldn’t watch certain episodes because I was blacked out. I don’t remember. Clearly social media and a lot of others had a lot to say, and I think a lot of it deserved. That was a big wake up call, reading all of these different things. February of 2020, my dad had visited New York and obviously, when my dad comes, things had gotten emotional before. It had nothing to do with him, but I basically went on a bender. Lindsay and Danielle were really concerned, and they had expressed concern before. It was that kind of moment where I thought in my head that I might lose them as friends based upon some of my behavior. That really triggered, like, ‘I’ve got to make some changes.’ What you saw at the beginning of season 5, obviously no one’s really doing anything April through all last summer, but I had taken some time from March to June and wasn’t drinking. I was doing a lot of therapy and taking better care of myself. As anyone going through a journey, I felt I could moderate, so I started drinking more in the summer a little bit, then obviously came into the summer house, and it was difficult to navigate. I was really proud of the how I handled myself.”

Carl Radke on his “lowest point” ever and deciding to get sober: “Obviously when my brother passed I was like, ‘Screw it!’ […] This fall and this winter, I was drinking a lot by myself, self medicating and isolating a lot, which actually wasn’t really like me before — I was always out and about and drinking and partying. This time, I wasn’t answering my phone and staying inside. I had the lowest point I’ve ever had. I didn’t crash a car, I didn’t punch anybody, but for me it was the lowest I ever hit in my life, and that was at the end of December, early January, and I made a decision. I’m 99 days sober today! I’m feeling really good. Obviously addiction runs in my family, and I was running away from some of the things I was afraid of being open and honest about. You’ve seen some of my behavior on TV, and I have actual evidence of myself behaving in a manner that I don’t like and I don’t think is my character, so let’s do something about it. I’ve been doing meetings, I have a sponsor and, since doing the program since early January, having a foundation like that and finding others to relate to, especially in New York, [has been amazing].”

Carl Radke on the support from his co-stars following his brother’s death, and Kyle and Lindsay saving his life: “From top to bottom, everybody in the house was incredibly sweet and generous and so gentle to me. I can’t even explain what was going through my head in those days there, but coming back after the funeral, I had so much confidence in my core group of friends that I could come back — I might have some ups and downs — but these are the people that are here to support me. Even Lindsay and Kyle, my two closest friends on the show — and clearly our friendships have grown so much — they’ve really saved my life in some ways. Lindsay has been so good to me and so supportive, but also [given me] tough love. Same with Kyle, and same with the others. That tough love is something I didn’t have. People were like, ‘Oh, whatever Carl. You’re Carl!’ I kind of got the pass a lot of times for my behavior, and I was able to make excuses. Having friends to also hold you accountable and really keep you in check… now they’re like, ‘Listen, if you can do these things and maintain this, you can have all of this great stuff.’ I couldn’t get out of my own way, and they’ve helped me see that. […] I’m forever indebted to Kyle and Lindsay, and the rest of the group.”

Carl Radke on Bravo fans connecting with his story: “I’ve certainly had my moments and ups and downs, a lot of it deserved, no doubt. I’ve tried to use those moments to grow and to evolve, and I feel like the audience can see that over the years. I think my friends’ support of me has also been very helpful. Lindsay’s had my back, Kyle has my beck. They definitely, even through my worst of times, have really supported me. But the amount of messages and people I’ve connected to through this is staggering. I’d wager over five or six-thousand messages I’ve gotten, specifically [about] addiction or mental health, all of these different topics that really connect to the Bravo audience. I didn’t know I would be this face for growth and change and how you can navigate difficult things. I’m certainly not worthy of it. I’m still growing and becoming a better person. I want the Bravo audience to know I’m still a human.”

Carl Radke on his blow-up fight with Luke Gulbranson this season: “The Luke stuff is hard to explain. Going into that summer, we all were like, ‘What’s going on with Luke and Hannah?’ It sounded like they were just friends to us, and we were just exhausted about talking about the Luke and Hannah situation. It boiled over in a way that I wasn’t proud of. Luke has been so good to me as a friend. I know he’s had his misgivings, but I think he’s learned. Me and Kyle truthfully were just trying to show him the light of, ‘Hey man, even though you don’t think you led Hannah on, you did. And you need to not dismiss her feelings.’ […] Obviously it didn’t come across as planned, but the weirdest thing happens when guys like us get in fights — it actually brought us a lot closer.”

Carl Radke on his relationship with Ciara Miller: “Ciara’s gorgeous, there’s no doubt about it, but from my perspective, all I see is Ciara and Luke. Luke is my friend, and for me I would just never cross that line. Now, when Ciara walks in the door, I was like, ‘Holy cow!’ She’s drop-dead gorgeous, she’s got a smile that lights up the room. I wanted to make her feel comfortable and make her feel welcome, and I try to do that generally with most of our new friends. Once I had learned she’d ben a nurse, worked her rear-end off and gone through difficult times, I was like, ‘You know what? I just want her to feel comfortable and welcome in the house.’ Some of that energy obviously comes across as sexual, for sure, because I’m a flirt and she is, too, a little bit. But I just think we’re friends, and it’s better that way.”

Carl Radke on his future on Summer House: “I’m really excited about the prospect of another summer with everybody. Last year was just very different for a lot of reasons, but I’m excited to show everybody the growth I’ve even had since what you’ve seen this year. You’ll see some on the reunion, which is great, but if I’m doing this when I’m 40, then we’ll have a conversation. Kyle’s got two more years until he’s 40, so we’ll see. We’ve got some more time. It’d be great to see me in a relationship while being sober and being in a good place, and I hope I can do that this summer. I needed some time. I didn’t think it would be right to start dating people when I’m still healing and trying to process it. I definitely want to start dating, and it would be fun for people to see Lindsay get into another relationship, me, Kyle and Amanda actually be married — all that stuff.”

Watch our full interview with Summer House star Carl Radke below, and tune into Summer House at 9 p.m. EST on Thursdays only on Bravo:

If you enjoyed this interview, check out our recent interview with fellow Summer House star, Ciara Miller!

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Listen to the latest episode of our pop culture podcast, We Should Talk: