But he insists everyone was fully supportive while he attended to his drink and drug problems.
And he says everyone in Bon Jovi knows that frontman Jon is the boss.
Asked whether his co-songwriter came to see him in rehab last year, the guitarist admits: “No. But everybody was very supportive – my band, my family, my kid. It was like, ‘Hey, go get better, man. Do what you gotta do.’
“Everybody in that band knows their role – and nobody’s bitchin’ about it. If we did we’d be an asshole.
“That band has been amazing for me. Everybody still gets along. It’s an anomaly, really – come on, how many bands on the planet have done what we’ve done? The longevity amazes me.
“Here’s the thing: spirituality, for me, is not taking things for granted. Every night when I walk on that stage and there are people there to see us, I’m a happy dude.”
But Sambora also admits he considered quitting Bon Jovi at one time.
He explains: “There was a point in the late 80s, in our early days of dealing with the speed of fame and stardom, when we were burnt out and we’d worked ourselves into the wall. Everybody needed their own space.
“Tico became an artist, a painter. Dave started doing things on Broadway. Everybody started to find themselves, which is a very important thing in any relationship. Even in a romantic relationship, if you lose yourself you end up resenting the other person.”
The guitarist celebrated rediscovering his freedom on new solo album Aftermath of the Lowdown – but he’s not afraid of the possibility of having revealed too much about himself in the music.
“I’m a man that’s been in the glare of the media on a global level for a long time,” he says. “For this record I wasn’t embarrassed or ashamed about anything. That’s the essence of this record: there’s a kind of triumphant feeling about it. When you get on the other side of some of the trials and tribulations in life, there’s freedom.”
Read the full interview in the current edition of Classic Rock, in which Sambora discusses finishing the next Bon Jovi album, his relationship with ex-wife Heather Locklear, being the father of a teenage girl and how he became addicted to drink and drugs in the first place. The subscribers’ edition of the magazine includes a bonus Sambora feature, detailing why he’s just started taking guitar lessons. Classic Rock 176 is on sale now. Get it on your iPad and iPhone here:http://goo.gl/z4Yhu (in the UK) or here http://goo.gl/YUnR9 (for the US).