At the risk of being flayed by House fans, I'm going to disagree totally that he's the same character. I'm talking about where they're moving the character to.
I also feel like the primary thing they always pointed to as being his 'real problem', his 'drug addiction', hurts thousands of people who are dependent on pain killers to function.
There's a difference, believe it or not, between addiction and dependence. Addiction implies use of some thing without having an original need. Dependence is a requirement. Like a one legged man with a crutch. Is his crutch an 'addiciton'? No. He needs it, but not in the same way as someone who'd use the same crutch to play croquet lol
Many people don't understand this, and I think I hate that the makes of the show feel it necessary to have his use of Painpill X, come across as some major problem. I know someone who will have to inject morphine into themselves for the rest of their lives, because there is no surgery that can relieve their pain. And that's only one person. Many other people would not be able to walk, sit, bathe themselves etc without the aid of painkillers. Yet we constantly confuse them with addicts/junkies.
I'm betting they got letters by the buckets from ignorant do-gooders complaining that House's pill use 'encourages' little babies to look for crack. I mean, I'm exaggerating a bit here but to make a point. Sending House off to a sanitarium was interesting, but using the pills as a vehicle? Nonsense. I feel like, over time, they're going to sterilize this character so badly you might as well be watching Marcus Welby, MD. Where else do they have to go? Return him to the pills? Well, there we go demonizing medicine again.
The guy supposedly has this badly painful leg and I'm assuming it's beyond surgery to help him( he's a world class doctor with access, anyone might assume, to the best medical opinions out there ). Most people dependent on pain killers to function do so through a special doctor who is trained to look for 'red flags' that indicate some patient might be ( MIGHT BE ) abusing their meds.
But hey, they're great stories for House and Dr.Phil and Oprah ("People Addicted to Pills And Why We Watch Them: next Wednesday on your favorite talking head show!!)