EXCLUSIVE: 'The Hills' Star Jason Wahler Opens Up About Suicide Attempt, Starting a Family
By Antoinette Bueno
Jason Wahler has certainly come a long way since his time on The Hills.
ET recently spoke with the 29-year-old former reality star in honor of the beloved MTV show's 10th anniversary next week, when he got candid about his well-known struggles with addiction and his road to recovery. Jason admits the sudden fame that came with the show definitely attributed to his "downward spiral."
"I was supposed to go to school and college for baseball, down that path, and the phenomenon of the show came up," Jason tells ET's Ashley Crossan of when it all began, starting with Laguna Beach. "Everything transitioned ... There was a lot of pros to this -- there was a lot of things that came overnight that were very, very glamorous, I guess you can call it -- and that's when that downward spiral happened for me. It ignited my addiction and things started to domino effect right before our own eyes, and before you knew it, it got out of control and I couldn't handle it."
Jason says his main problem was with alcohol and cocaine. He now acknowledges that his addiction issues affected his drama-filled relationship with Lauren Conrad.
"Oh my alcoholism, a hundred percent," he says. "I became a totally different person active in my addiction versus when I'm sober and living life in recovery. It's a totally different mentality and thought process -- the way my brain operates, it's completely different."
Jason eventually attempted to get help on several occasions at different treatment centers across the country after getting arrested multiple times, but his turning point came when he attempted to commit suicide seven years ago. He was found by his girlfriend at the time, and only because she came back because she forgot her wallet.
"My addiction drove me to suicide," Jason says bluntly. "Not contemplation -- actually attempting suicide -- and somebody found me and that's why I'm still here today. I'm very grateful for that."
"How that all kind of lined up, obviously, somebody up above wanted me here for a reason and I'm very happy that I did not check out," he continues. "It's crazy to look at where things are. I never would have guessed six years ago, I would be working in recovery, substance abuse, and mental health, considering I was paid to party. That was the last thing I thought was going to happen."
Still, he doesn't blame his time on reality TV for his addictions.
"That was going to happen regardless. Addiction is genetic," he explains. "There's forms of it. It was going to happen no matter what. ... The TV show might have ignited it, or added fuel to the fire, but it didn't cause it."
Jason has been sober since July 23, 2010, and opened a sober living facility called Widespread Recovery in Orange County, California. He met his wife, Ashley Slack, when he was 11 months sober, and says he knew she was "the one" the first day he met her. The two wed in 2013.
Jason says they hope to have a child by next year.
"We want probably two, but I want to be in a spot where I can actually raise my kids and be a part of their life," he stresses. "And, so, you know, that's a big piece to me and I think that ... hopefully next year, we'll have a little junior."
Jason says he doesn't keep in touch with most of his Hills co-stars, and hasn't seen his ex, Lauren, in about a year. Still, there's no bad blood between the two despite their notoriously rocky relationship on the show.
"I think it was more just a check-in, like, 'How are you doing? I hope everything is going well,'" he recalls about their meeting. "The reason why I contacted her a long time ago was to make amends ... which was a part of the process to acknowledge what I did, and to make sure that I clean up my records from the past."
He also insists that their moments together on the Hills were pretty real -- including his epic rush to give her a kiss when the clock struck midnight on New Year's Eve and when he bought her a pricey Chanel bag for Christmas.
"The relationships were real," he stresses. "Look, were things reshot and retaken? Yeah. But the relationships, the whole basis of the show, was real. They would set up some stuff, like, 'Hey, we're going to go to dinner and you're going to run into somebody potentially,' but that was as fake as it got. There was no script. There was a production team and stuff, but other than that, it was pretty real."
"There was times and things that were shot to make things look like they happened in different synchronicity and stuff -- that was one part I would say they did editing -- but you still did that," he explains. "You have so much control of what you do in front of the camera. So all those things happened -- sometimes the timeline of it may be a little swayed -- but in general, it was still real."
Jason says he never watches past episodes of the show, but has no regrets.
"I wouldn't take anything back, you know?" he reflects. "It brought me to where I'm at today, and I'm so, so happy, and so grateful for everything that's lined up the way it has."