Dancing With the Stars contestant AJ McLean recently opened up about the first time he used cocaine. The incident took place nearly two decades ago, but the Backstreet Boys singer told People that he remembers the event vividly.
McLean told the outlet that the first time he used the drug was before a night shoot for a music video and he was pressured into it by someone he thought was his friend at the time. Before that, McLean said that he had never tried drugs.
That night marked the start of his addiction, which he struggled with for a long time. The star told People that he kept the addiction secret for months before he was able to open up about it and seek treatment.
McLean has been completely sober since December 2019 and now attends regular 12-step meetings.
McLean Says the First Time He Used Cocaine Was Before a Music Video Shoot
The first time McLean tried cocaine, he was gearing up for a music video shoot, and a friend offered him cocaine.
“I was introduced to cocaine literally the night that we shot the video for ‘The Call,'” he told People. “It was the first time I ever tried it because it was a late-night shoot. I was with a friend at the time – who’s clearly not a friend anymore – and offered it to me. I said ‘No,’ then I caved and did it.”
He added that when he got to the set later, he told everybody that he had tried cocaine that day, and everyone that he had told warned him to stop talking about it.
“Somehow, someway, I kept it a secret from everyone for the next at least 18 months before the boys caught on, before my family caught on, before my real friends caught on,” he said. “I found a way to really keep it under the rug.”
McLean Says he Used Drugs to Make his Insecurity ‘Go Away’
During the interview with People, McLean said that he used drugs because he thought it would help him feel more secure.
“I thought drugs and alcohol would make those feelings of insecurity go away,” he said. “But it doesn’t work that way.”
Then, 18 months after the first time he tried the drug, the other members of The Backstreet Boys confronted McLean to tell him he needed to get help.
“The most crucial part of that conversation was the final thing Kevin [Richardson] said to me: If I continued using, he said, ‘I will never trust you again. You’re dead to me.'”
McLean was on and off the wagon over and over again until December 9, 2019, he says. That night, he’d been planning to go see Shania Twain in Vegas and he had a plan for the whole night including where and when he would be getting his drugs and where and when he would be getting drunk.
The next day, he missed both of his flights back home, and by the time he got there, he says he still smelled like alcohol, meaning his wife would not let him play with their children. That’s what made him finally take up full-time sobriety.
He’s now using the pandemic to get himself back on the right track and attend daily 12-step meetings while checking in with his sponsor sometimes around six times a day.