Backstreet Boy AJ McLean shares his experience of being in the spotlight and overcoming his addictions. He says it was hard for him to distinguish between AJ the singer and Alex the person. "AJ is this character. He is part of the group — sex, drugs and rock 'n roll basically. And then Alex is just this regular kid. I could not separate the two."
"I was about 15 when I first started drinking beer. The real hard stuff came in as I got older," he says, noting that he would drink a bottle or two of Jack Daniels a day. "The cocaine came in shortly thereafter. I felt this God complex when I would do drugs, but in between that, I felt worthless."
He realized there was a problem when his performance started to get "lackadaisical" and his voice started to sound "dumb." He reflects, "It was just a downward spiral. The week leading up to me going into rehab was just non-stop partying."
AJ shares his thoughts about rehab. "The rehab process was honestly the best 30 days of my life. I started to get to know me better," he explains. "When I first got out of rehab, I thought, 'This is going to be a piece of cake.'" He realized that wasn't the case when he was shopping with his girlfriend and in the display case at a store there was a circular mirror with three lines of fake cocaine. "I was like, 'This is going to be a lot harder than I
After a year and a half of sobriety, he relapsed. "I relapsed because I stopped going to meetings, and it's a life-long commitment to be sober. It's not like you can say, 'Well I've been sober now for two years, I'm going to go out and have a glass of wine tonight.' It doesn't work that way," he knows. AJ has two pieces of advice for anyone with an addiction: Don't be so hard on yourself, and ask someone for help.
With his life back on the right track, The Backstreet Boys are just about to release a new album. "My life is beautiful right now," he smiles. "For years, my trademark was sunglasses. It was all about don't see my eyes. Now, I want you to see my eyes. I want you to look at me and know that I'm right here."