Richard Drew, Associated Press
Radio personality Don Imus, left, returned to the airwaves at New York's Town Hall on Monday.

Getting fired wasn't the first time Don Imus had hit rock bottom.

"I analogize it to being an alcoholic and a drug addict, which I also am," the talk-show host said during an apologetic return to the airwaves Monday. "If you get into recovery, as I am for 20-some years now, you have the opportunity to be a better person, to have a better life than you ordinarily would have had. And that's true in this situation."

Like his stumble into addiction in the 1980s, Imus fell into a personal purgatory after calling the Rutgers women's basketball team "nappy-headed hos."

His debut on WABC in New York — along with a new cast featuring two black comedians — completed a comeback that seemed improbable at the height of the uproar last spring. CBS Radio fired him on April 12, pulling the plug on his "Imus In the Morning" program that had aired on more than 70 stations and the MSNBC cable network.