Carey retired from performing in adult films in 2008. However, she still appears in softcore films like The Great Bikini Bowling Bash .
In 2009, she made a film titled Celebrity Pornhab with Dr. Screw . The film is a pornographic parody of the VH1 show, and includes a sex scene between Mary Carey and a female costar. Drew Pinsky commented in a January 2010 TV Guide story, "She puts together, like, six weeks at a time of sobriety, then drifts away. We're trying to get her to stay with it once and for all."
Carey was also in the 2010 documentary After Porn Ends , which is about life after being a porn actor.
She was featured on VH1 's reality series Celebrity Rehab , and has appeared in more than 100 adult films. and she has a product line with Doc Johnson adult toy company. She appeared in VH1's series Sober House , which premiered in January 2009.
During the 2003 California recall election, Carey signed a contract with Kick Ass Pictures and, as a publicity stunt , they came up with the idea that Carey should run for governor. She was an independent candidate, placing tenth in a field of 135 candidates. She ran on an eleven-point platform that included somewhat tongue-in-cheek promises of taxing breast implants, making lap dances tax-deductible, and creating a "Porn for Pistols" exchange program.
In June 2005, Carey announced her bid for Lieutenant Governor of California as an independent in 2006. She has also said that she hopes to run for a major party nomination to be President of the United States upon her reaching the age of 35, per the minimum age requirement for United States presidents. She dropped out of the race in October 2006 to take care of her mother who had jumped off a building while off her medications.
In April 2005, Carey was arrested in connection with a Lakewood, Washington , cabaret sting operation, for violating a city strip club ordinance that forbids dancers from sexually touching themselves. She subsequently made a plea agreement and received a 19-month sentence, which was suspended on the condition that she was not charged with any other offense within one year.
In January/February 2008, Carey was featured on the VH1 reality TV series Celebrity Rehab , receiving treatment for alcoholism . While on Celebrity Rehab , she stated that she would leave the porn industry and straighten out her life because of her mother, who was hospitalized in Florida after jumping off a four-story building the previous month.
In the reunion episode of the show taped approximately six months after leaving rehab, she claimed she had not made an adult movie since becoming sober and intends to never make another one. However, she continues to "feature dance" in clubs, saying that she needs the money to care for her mother, but also hopes to stop doing this. In an interview with AVN magazine , Carey stated that she had entered rehab to tackle an addiction to Xanax (which she had developed around the time she dropped out of her second run for governor) and that the focus on alcohol was created by the show.
During an interview with The Howard Stern Show on November 29, 2010; Pinsky commented that Carey was doing "a lot better". In 2011, Carey was interviewed for Celebrity Rehab Revisited stating that, following the end of Celebrity Rehab , she had quit Xanax and binge drinking, apart from occasional champagne. She had been married to an electrician for two years and stopped making adult films, but continued making a living with personal appearances in night clubs and strip clubs. Counselor Bob Forrest , while critical of her continuing to drink "occasional champagne," noted her improvement, saying "it's progress, not perfection and Mary's progressing and she's a million miles away from where she was when we met her five years ago."
- 2004 AVN Award – Best Overall Marketing Campaign (Individual Project) – Mary Carey Campaign
- 2004 FOXE Award – Vixen of the Year
- 2004 XRCO Award – Mainstream's Adult Media Favorite
- 2006 AVN Award – Best Overall Marketing Campaign (Individual Project) – Mary Carey's Dinner with President Bush
- 2013 AVN Hall of Fame inductee