Jason Wahler opened up about his long battle with addiction and how being a young reality star affected his struggles.
The MTV star, 34, first appeared on “Laguna Beach” in 2005 when he was dating series star Lauren Conrad. He also appeared in 12 episodes of Conrad’s spinoff “The Hills” from 2006 to 2007, per IMDb, then returned for the MTV revival series “The Hills: New Beginnings” in 2018 as a married father, where his struggles with addiction were part of his main storyline.
Wahler, who had been in recovery for drug and alcohol addiction, relapsed on alcohol during the first season of the MTV spinoff.
Wahler Said He Does Not Blame ‘The Hills’ For His Addiction
In a new interview with Fox News, Wahler said he was “blinded by alcohol and drugs” for years, but that he doesn’t think anyone could have done anything more to help him at the time.
“I was 18, 19, 20 years old,” he said. “I think everything that my parents could have done, that family could have done… they did everything they possibly could. But I think I had to go through the motions of [addiction].”
Wahler added that with today’s resources and education, his family may have been better equipped on how to deal with him. He also said he does not blame “Laguna Beach” or “The Hills” for his spiral into such a dark place more than a decade ago.
“I don’t blame the shows or anything for my addiction,” he said. “It was all there before. I think it definitely added fuel to the fire. I mean, being such a young age and making a lot of money and again, having access and having a lot of leeway with stuff… it added fuel to the fire but I don’t blame the shows.”
Wahler also revealed that he was able to bond with his “Hills: New Beginnings” co-star Brandon Thomas Lee over their mutual struggles with addiction.
“Brandon, both on and off-screen, is a very dear friend of mine,” Wahler said. “I mean, look at where he’s at in his early 20s is so admirable and commendable. It’s great to have another brother in sobriety alongside you, especially, you know, doing a show like “The Hills.” It’s definitely helped as we were able to share and communicate on a very personal and intimate level.”
Wahler Was In And Out of Treatment Centers & Was Arrested 18 Times
While he doesn’t blame the show for his addiction, Wahler previously told the “Behind the Velvet Rope” podcast that once he started filming reality shows for MTV he experienced a shift in his life as he found himself “being paid to party and travel the world” as a teen.
“Most of your friends are looking for fake ID’s and I thought I was living the dream,” he recalled. “It was one of those things that you get so caught up into it and there was no one you could really talk to, or relate to, for advice or suggestions.”
After multiple stints in rehabs, Wahler said it was seeing his parents’ immense suffering over his addiction that finally got him to sober up.
On the first season of “The Hills” spinoff, Wahler reflected on his reckless younger years.
“[Ages] 18 to 23, I went to 12 different treatment centers from Florida to Hawaii,” he said, per Us Weekly. “I was arrested 18 times. Over the last 10 years, my life’s totally made a complete 180.”
But on the most recent season of “New Beginnings,” Wahler’s sobriety was questioned by his co-star Spencer Pratt. Following an episode in which Pratt taunted Wahler over his sobriety, Wahler took to Instagram to address “the lack of awareness and education on substance abuse and mental health.”
“If you or anyone is struggling do not be shamed for falling and continuing to pick yourself up again,” Wahler wrote. “Celebrate small victories and together we will smash the stigma of addiction.”
Wahler also told ET Canada that after all of his hard work to remain sober, he felt disrespected by Pratt’s comments.
“[My sobriety is] something that I hold very closely to me, and I take a lot of pride in it because I worked my a** off to get to where I am today,” Wahler said. “In the simplest form, it was very hurtful and disrespectful when you’re questioning, insinuating or not supporting someone, especially when you know what they’ve gone through. It’s just a below-the-belt comment.”
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