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How MTV's Hottest Mess Cleaned Up His Act

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The Hills and Celeb Rehab alum: surprisingly sober

By Ruth Fowler

09/30/11

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Was it hard being the only one with addiction issues on Laguna Beach and The Hills?

There were a couple of other people that were messed up—not everybody, some people were very healthy and normal. But I think it just overtook me. I mean, this was five years ago. I was 18, and at that age most kids are looking for a fake ID, whereas I’m traveling the world with friends and drinking whatever I want. Obviously all that had an impact on me, since it happens to only like one in every couple million people. And it was something i wouldn’t take back. I lived it. I hold everything I do with a badge of honor—sure, I regret stuff, but I lived it.

Is it better for your sobriety to avoid LA?

I think getting out of LA was a huge factor in me gaining my sobriety. It was too hard up here. I needed a new beginning: new people, new places, new things. It’s not that I had bad friends, but I was surrounded by people doing bad things—enablers. I needed to be close to the people that love me, and my friends who cared came down and saw me. I just needed to build a whole new foundation for myself. I tried in LA numerous times and I just couldn’t do it. But now I know my limitations and my boundaries, and I have a lot of balance in my life.

What do Lauren Conrad and Kristin Cavallari think of your sobriety?

I just started talking to Lauren again recently. I talk to Kristin Cavallari a little bit too. Lauren always new I had a problem—she’s a good girl, got her head on straight. Kristin —well, she partied with me! I told Lauren what I was doing and she about had a heart attack. I lost a lot of friends. I was friends with Perez Hilton—he actually really cared. He was there for me, and then I was a dick when I was drunk, and he obviously changed his demeanor towards me, and he knew that I had an issue. I rekindled that friendship—I went to his birthday about four months ago. I’m glad he bashed me, because I was an idiot. Everyone who said “We’re done with you” were the people that cared.

What about your family?

My dad said that when and if I get my one-year, this will be as important as my sister’s wedding. So when he said that, I thought “How is that even possible?” and he was like, “Because we thought you were going to die.” It’s a life or death situation for me. I was on my way to die. My options were to be in the gutter and die, or live and have all kinds of opportunities come to me.

How did you get a job working in a treatment center?

After I was done with Celebrity Rehab, people could see that I was taking it seriously. I went in sober, so when I got off the show people were asking me “Would you like to come work in our rehab blah blah blah?” I said, “No, I’ve never worked in a rehab.” And as I was getting clearer thoughts and started going to more meetings and being more of service, I thought, “You know what? I’m going to do this.” Then I ran into a family friend who my dad knows, and his friend’s son owned this rehab and it seemed like a perfect time to come in. They were very skeptical of someone from TV. It was funny because all the places wanted me to go there, and I said, “No way, no way,” and this guy kind of thought I’d be a douchey asshole or something but instead they were really pleased with my work. It’s weird to be on the other side of the fence. I just got an email from an admissions place, and the headline of the email was “Thanks to Jason Wahler, this kid changed his mind” and underneath it said, “Jason’s the reason I came in to treatment.” It’s so crazy to be where I was a year ago and see clients like that. I mean, no one could get him in. He flew out for an intervention and all that stuff, and that’s the kind of thing I do: go talk to guys and share my truth and experience with them. I take them to a meeting, introduce them to some people, and try to show them the day in the life of a sober person. The beach, volleyball, playing Frisbee, going surfing. There’s a lot to do in life if you’re not lazy and you get off your ass. I mean, my biggest triggers were boredom and relationships. For me, the natural highs of life are more powerful than any drug there is. It’s weird how you have an impact upon a lot of these younger people. I didn’t even realize but the clarity I’m getting from all this is better than any amount of money.

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