She said her drug habit began very casually. "You know, pot at 13, which, in my circle, was very normal. … and drinking every once in a while, but that wasn't really my thing. And then I started getting into cocaine at like 14 or 15. And then I stopped. And, and went to heroin, at about 19, I believe," she said.
In retrospect, Richie said, "I was pretty out of control. And considering the fact that I probably don't remember half of what happened to me, I can only imagine how out of control I was."
Ironically, just days before she was scheduled to check into rehab for help, police found heroin in the car she was driving. "It kind of didn't make sense in my mind at the time. … This is the one time I am not doing anything wrong. But I think that it was kind of a sign. A little reminder of like, 'this stuff really happens to people,'" she said.
Richie completed rehab, was put on probation and began her new life with a hot TV show.
But Richie now had a weight problem. She had put on pounds in rehab, but then underwent a dramatic weight loss that led to speculation about her health and whether she had returned to drugs.
She said she's remained drug- and alcohol-free since leaving rehab. And she insists the weight loss was gradual and that she's simply dropped the extra weight with the help of a personal fitness trainer.
"I have been called too fat. I have been called too skinny. I have been called too short. I have been called wild. You know, I mean, I can't, I can't even keep up with the things that people say. So I just, I just don't. I choose not to," she said.
Still, as with her famous flap with Hilton, rumors persist. And Richie just tries to ignore them.
"I know the truth, and my family knows the truth, and my friends know the truth, and just like drugs, you know, if, if there was a problem, then I would step up to the plate and take care of whatever I needed to take care of, and that's the way that I live my life," she said.
Some credit Richie's turnaround to her romance with Goldstein. The couple announced their engagement in February.
He too is a recovering addict, finding a new life after losing 150 pounds through gastric-bypass surgery. "They had a common hardship and that is sort of the mortar of a lot of relationships. And they had a lot in common going in. He has really settled her down and I think it's sort of like the kind of serenity that she's never had before," said People's Castro.
It's hard to imagine the young socialite falling in love and settling down.
She said it's hard to describe how their friendship grew into love, but she says she's smitten. "If you spend five minutes with him, you'll know in a second. He's just that person. He's just very charming, and there's something about him that makes you fall in love with him," she said.
Richie said she's happy where she is now, and is glad to have pulled herself out of the downward spiral of drugs and rehab.
"I just consider myself really lucky that I got through everything. And I couldn't have done it alone, you know, I have my parents, and uh, a lot of great people around me, and I just feel very lucky."