Matt Winkelmeyer, Getty Images
On the classic aughts reality series Laguna Beach, Jason Wahler was introduced as a bad boy high school senior, who ended up dating several cast members and joining the spinoff The Hills with ex-girlfriend Lauren Conrad. But while his relationships made for good TV, his experience on the shows were exacerbating his off-camera issues. Wahler has been open about his struggles with substance abuse and addiction, and in a new interview with the Behind the Velvet Rope podcast, he shared about the role Laguna Beach and sudden fame played in those struggles.
“People start to know who you are, and it obviously makes you get this inflated ego, and that goes into a lot of where my issues stem from—an overinflated ego and underestimated sense of self-worth,” Wahler explained on the podcast, via People. “I was validating and dictating who I was based on people's opinions, versus what I really thought of myself.”
Wahler, who previously said that his issues were with alcohol and cocaine, explained that he was already dealing with addiction when he was cast on the show, but that “it got much worse” as his fame grew. The fact that the cast was constantly being invited to events and parties was part of the problem.
“At 18 years old, we were literally being paid to go to clubs," the 33-year-old Wahler said. "It added fuel to the fire—it made everything times 10, times 100."
During his late teens and early twenties, Wahler went to several different treatment centers, and he eventually got sober in 2010. He talked publicly about a relapse in 2018. The reality star is now an advocate for others dealing with addiction, which he talks extensively about on his website.
Wahler is married to Ashley Wahler, a hairstylist, and they have a daughter, Delilah. The couple appeared on the Hills revival, The Hills: New Beginnings, in 2019. This time, instead of struggling off-screen, Jason spoke openly about his sobriety on-camera. He told Access Hollywood that he wanted “to come back and be able to show that life in recovery is absolutely amazing and you can actually find a life that’s worth living.”
If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction and need help, use the SAMHSA Treatment Locator to find treatment near you or call 1-800-662-HELP (4357).