AJ McLean was very open about “being an addict” and the first moment he did cocaine in a new interview.
The Backstreet Boys singer spoke to People about hiding his substance abuse problems for years before seeking treatment.
“I never really had a desire for the drugs, but being an addict — to me, that word encompasses everything,” McLean said.
“I was introduced to cocaine literally the night that we shot the video for ‘The Call’. It was the first time I ever tried it because it was a late-night shoot. I was with a ‘friend’ at the time — who’s clearly not a friend anymore — and offered it to me. I said, ‘No.’ Then I caved and I did it.”
McLean recalled how by the time he was in the makeup chair he “told everybody.”
“They were like, ‘You need to stop. Don’t tell the world that you’re on drugs right now.’ Somehow someway, I kept it a secret from everyone for the next at least 18 months before the boys caught on, before my family caught on, before my real friends caught on. I found a way to really keep it under the rug,” he said.
“They basically broke into my house and they dumped ice water on me while I was passed out in my bed,” McLean recalls to “Good Morning America”. “Everybody started to catch on. I wasn’t me, I was just living a lie.”
— Good Morning America (@GMA) October 19, 2020
“I thought drugs and alcohol would make those feelings of insecurity go away,” said McLean of using substances as a “big Band-Aid,” adding, “but it doesn’t work that way.”
It wasn’t until the other Backstreet Boys intervened and encouraged him to get help.
“The most crucial part of that conversation was the final thing Kevin [Richardson] said to me: If I continued using, he said, ‘I will never trust you again. You’re dead to me,'” the “Dancing With The Stars” contestant said.
While McLean did seek treatment, he was in and out of sobriety for the next 20 years. Only recently having an epiphany.
McLean detailed how, in December 2019, he was heading to Las Vegas to see Shania Twain and had “already mapped out” where he would get drugs, get drunk and recover in time so he wouldn’t “smell like it” before heading home.
“I can go have a nice last hurrah and then come back home. My wife won’t know; everything’s going to be great,'” he said.
His plan didn’t work out and when he returned home to wife Rochelle he “reeked of alcohol.”
“My wife and I had always had this agreement, which was, if I smelled like alcohol, I wasn’t allowed to play with my kids — I couldn’t be around my kids. But what really hit me was the moment, my youngest daughter Lyric said to me that night, ‘You don’t smell like my daddy.’ And when she said that to me, that was it. Enough said. I felt disgusting.”
McLean added, ” “As we say in the sober world, that was my moment of surrender. That was the moment I dropped to my knees and I said, ‘God, I cannot do this on my own. I can’t. I have tried and I have failed miserably. So help a brother out.'”
The father of Ava, 6, and Lyric, 3, now checks in with his sponsor six times a day and attends daily 12-step meetings virtually.
“As hard as it is to say, I have zero regrets and am beyond lucky to still be here. I can genuinely say I love myself today,” he concluded.