Former Teen Idol Aaron Carter Opens Up On Depression, Substance Use Battle

By McCarton Ackerman 10/26/16

After his 2009 stint on Dancing With The Stars failed to reignite his career, Carter began self-medicating with alcohol. 

Former Teen Idol Aaron Carter Opens Up On Depression, Substance Use Battle
Photo: OWN/YouTube

Family woes and the decline of his music career left late ‘90s and early 2000s teen idol Aaron Carter in a battle with alcoholism that could have turned fatal.

The singer made the candid admission during a recent episode of Oprah: Where Are They Now? Carter said his parents revealed their divorce to him just an hour before he was set to tape an episode of MTV Cribs, which led to a long battle with depression and using alcohol to self-medicate.

"I had to show all the cameras my life that I was losing and nobody ever knew it,” he said. "The depression was brought on because I loved my family being together. I did not want to see them divorced. I couldn't dwell on it. I couldn't think about it too much. I kind of had to block it out. I started partying and getting into a lot of trouble."

With his hard-partying lifestyle on the rise and interest in his music career slowing down, Carter eventually went broke and lived in the back of a Tennessee guesthouse belonging to his brother, former Backstreet Boy, Nick Carter.

He was hopeful that a 2009 stint on Dancing With the Stars would revive interest in his music career, but his drinking escalated when record executives still weren’t interested in him. By 2011, he had reached a breaking point.

"I started getting really heavy into drinking and was telling people, 'I'm on a bad path right now. I need help,'" said Aaron. His mom came to get him and he checked into the Betty Ford Center the very next day. Aaron says he's remained sober nearly six years later.

His motivation to stay away from drinking is spurred by the fact that other family members haven’t been as lucky. His sister, Leslie, died of a reported drug overdose in 2012. Although Aaron doesn’t blame himself for her death, he still wonders if he could saved her.

"I just hit my bonus—$10,000 the week before Leslie died—and I actually reached out to her two weeks before that and I said I'm going to get you the money to go to rehab. She wanted it and her phone got cut off,” he said.

"I think out of all the experiences and all the things that happened with my sister's passing, I just learned that life means so much to me and more than just money and fame."

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.