'Laguna Beach' Star Jason Wahler Opens Up Sober Living Home

By McCarton Ackerman 09/25/15

The reality TV star has overcome a series of arrests and jail due to alcohol abuse.

Jason Wahler
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It was on Laguna Beach that Jason Wahler first rose to prominence as the bad boy of reality TV. But a decade later, he’s now using that same location to help others continue on with their sobriety.

Wahler has overcome a rocky past of arrests and jail time due to his alcoholism and is now more than five years sober. Last month, he launched Widespread Recovery, a sober living home in Laguna Beach. The 10-bed, all-male facility is already full and its residents are primarily between the ages of 25-35. Anyone living in the home must have a minimum of 30 days sobriety under their belt beforehand.

“It’s not hard to get sober. The hard point is staying sober,” said Wahler exclusively to The Fix. “We’re not there to babysit and it’s not a place to hover. That’s why we want people in there who already have a base of sobriety and are committed to putting in the work.”

This isn’t his first foray into helping others. Wahler is also the Treatment and Recovery Advocate at Origins Behavioral Health Care and previously served as the Client and Alumni Services Manager at Northbound Treatment Services.

Residents at Widespread Recovery must follow a small, but non-negotiable set of rules including curfew, keeping the house clean and having a sponsor. They must also be working a full-time job, in school, or attending an intensive outpatient program. If they aren’t, they will be set up with service work.

“With young people, the program is effective when they have a job and accountability,” said Wahler. “The problem is that it’s all instant gratification now and no one wants to work for anything.”

Those who break the house rules lose pass privileges for their first offense and are asked to leave for a second offense. While it may appear that the former reality star would be somewhat lax with the house guidelines, Wahler made it clear that he is not making any exceptions.

“I had a buddy come in and he thought he could take advantage of our friendship and manipulate the situation, but he didn’t follow the rules and I ended up having to ask him to leave,” he explained. “I think it set the tone that there’s no bullshit here and that this is something I take very seriously.”

Widespread Recovery is one of the more affordable luxury rehab options in Orange County at $2,500-4,000 per month, depending on the room and unit. Wahler also said that he plans to build future facilities, which will be even less expensive.

“I definitely want to create more models in So. Cal and then hopefully continue to expand further out,” said Wahler. “We want to give people the tools so that they’ll be able to succeed and prosper.”

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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.