Meredith Phillips, a former star of ABC's "The Bachelorette," opened up in an interview with "Good Morning America" about her battle with alcoholism -- a problem that she said spiraled out of control -- and about why she chose to turn her life around.
The former model first appeared on the fourth season of ABC's "The Bachelor," starring bachelor Bob Guiney, and came in third place. Phillips went on to appear as the franchise's second-ever "Bachelorette," who got to choose from 25 men before accepting the proposal of hunky financer Ian McKee in 2004.
At the time, Phillips said she was in love.
"I wasn't expecting him to, you know, give me a ring," she told "Good Morning America."
At first, Phillips was a functioning alcoholic.
"I always prided myself on how much I could drink," she said.
But then the former model and makeup artist became a non-functioning alcoholic. Phillips said she was drinking upwards of 20 bottles of wine per week, suffered from blackouts, and came close to losing everything -- including her life.
"I started with bottles, and then I would go for the box of wine. Then I could hide it, you know, because I could just crumple up the box," she said.
It's widely known that on "The Bachelor," there is lots of drinking. There is hardly a scene that goes by without someone -- sometimes everyone -- with a glass of alcohol in their hands.
"It's always right there," Phillips said. "There's a lot of booze. [Alcohol] is the 26th person in the room."
While Phillips said alcohol was available throughout the show's taping, she doesn't blame "The Bachelor" or "The Bachelorette" for her drinking problem.
"It was my choice to drink it and how much I consumed," she said.
But when asked whether she thought that having the abundance of alcohol was necessary for the show to be successful, she suggested the wine and cocktails needn't be woven into the fabric of the reality series.
"It shouldn't be prevalent all the time," she said. "It shouldn't be available, you know? I mean, it was just too easy."
Phillips said her drinking problem went from bad to worse after she broke off her engagement to McKee and when both of her beloved parents died in the span of four years. Her lowest point in her bouts with alcoholism, she said, was "waking up after blacking out" and finding unintentional cuts and bruises on her body.
"Always bruises on my legs and arms from falling. (I was) just constantly hurting myself on the outside as well as the inside," Phillips said.
Encouraged by her brother to get help, Phillips checked herself into a treatment program, where she remained as an inpatient for two months. She has been sober for more than six months. But Phillips says every day remains a struggle.
"It's not hard for me to be around [alcohol]," she said. "I miss the social aspect of it and sitting down and, you know, hanging with friends and enjoying a nice drink on, you know, a hot day. I mean, I miss a lot of those things, but I'm going to have to learn to fill them with other things and, you know, I'm learning to love sparkling water."
Newly married to her high school sweetheart, Michael Broady, Phillips said she is now working on remodeling her Portland, Ore., home and trying her hand at modeling again.
"I want to live," she said. "I have had a really, really hard four years and, you know, I'm getting my strength from my weakness, and that was alcoholism. That's driving me to be a better person and to do good. I want to see what I have because it's not over yet."