AJ McLean Talks Recent Relapse, Recovery & Self-Care

By Victoria Kim 11/16/18

"I have no shame in saying, I’ve relapsed over the past year. It’s no secret that this is a disease, and that it’s a daily struggle.”

Backstreet Boy AJ McLean opened up about relapsing in a recent interview

The Backstreet Boys are wrapping up their Las Vegas residency and are gearing up for their world tour in 2019, which will hit 27 countries—the boy band’s largest arena tour in 18 years.

AJ McLean, who is in recovery, is up for the challenge. The Backstreet Boy has been to rehab in 2001, 2002 and 2011 for depression and alcohol use, according to People.

Over the years, he’s learned a few hard lessons about recovery.

“Sometimes, you’re just going to have the worst days possible,” he said. It’s a daily struggle. “You have to make it a lifestyle, you truly do. It doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun, and can’t be yourself.”

Seeing recovery as a journey and not a destination also helps McLean stay grounded. “It’s not like, okay, I’m sober, it’s done. I’ll never drink again. No. You have to work at it daily.”

By maintaining this mindset, McLean is not ashamed to acknowledge his mistakes as a person in recovery. “Look, I have no shame in saying, I’ve relapsed over the past year. It’s no secret that this is a disease, and that it’s a daily struggle.”

As a father of two young daughters, McLean says it’s easy to forget about his own needs. “You know, it’s interesting about sobriety with family and with kids—you still have to put yourself first, and that’s been a real big struggle for me.”

But it’s important to balance his family’s needs with his own, McLean says. “It will win if you don’t take care of yourself.”

“Because I’m still very codependent, I’m Mr. People Pleaser… I want to make sure everyone’s cool,” he said. “[But] if you do that too often, then you forget about taking care of yourself, and you do tend to get lost in the sauce. And that’s happened to me numerous times.”

After the death of Mac Miller in September, McLean mourned the loss of the young rapper.

“I met him a couple of times at radio shows and he was a stand-up guy,” he told Entertainment Tonight in a previous interview. “You would never know that he had a problem—but a lot of people had no idea that I had a problem. Addicts can hide it pretty well, so all my condolences go to his family and friends. He’s another one gone too soon.”

The Backstreet Boys’ upcoming 10th album is due on January 25, 2019. Then in May, they will embark on their DNA World Tour.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr