Backstreet Boys’ AJ McLean opens up about his struggle with addiction

The singer and "Dancing With the Stars" contestant battled addiction for 20 years and shared how he finally committed to staying sober.
4:31 | 10/19/20

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Transcript for Backstreet Boys’ AJ McLean opens up about his struggle with addiction
Now to backstreet boy and "Dancing with the stars" contestant aj Mclean getting candid about his 20-year battle with addict. Will reeve spoke to aj about it and how he finally made the commitment to staying sober. Reporter: With a career that made him an international superstar. Tell me why Reporter: Performing for tens of thousands of fans each night. Backstreet's back all right Reporter: Aj Mclean of the backstreet boys is revealing his 20-year battle with addiction. What happened the first time you tried drugs? The first time I tried drugs was literally an hour before my call time to the call video shoot. I was off the walls. Reporter: The singer kept his addiction a secret until his destructive behavior began affecting his band. They basically broke into my house and they dumped ice water on me while I was passed out in my bed. Everybody started to catch on. I was just living a lie. Reporter: The 42-year-old has now spent two decades with stretches of sobriety and stints in rehab. After a trip to Las Vegas 11 months ago, aj hit rock bottom. How bad was it the last time you were using? I was never sober. Not for a second. And the turning point for me was when I came back home, my wife could smell it on my breath and my youngest of my two daughters would not sit with me. Reporter: He's been sober since that day and says he's finally doing it the right way working with a program and sponsor. There's too much to live for today. My beautiful children, my amazing wife, my career, my brothers, I've never felt more grounded than I do today. Reporter: For "Good morning America," will reeve, ABC news, New York. He has such a beautiful family. Thank you, will, so much. Dr. Jennifer Ashton will joins us now to talk more about it. How common is it for someone to be addicted after trying drugs for the first time. So glad we're talking about this, robin. It's hard to get a precise number on that but in speaking with addiction experts it absolutely does happen. We know there are genetic predisposition for people who deal with addiction and substance abuse but it can also be situational. We've heard those stories as well. People who have surgery or in an accident and that's what starts their addiction. We heard aj talking frankly about how this is something he's been struggling with for over 20 years now. What are the warning signs if you think somebody you know is struggling with addiction? Well, you bring up a really important point, robin, because oftentimes the person with this disease will be so impaired, so sick they might not be able to realize it themselves so some anythings to look out for are people who are struggling with relationships, they're having disruption in those relationships, their failure too keep up with their day-to-day responsibilities like work, they're engage income high risk behaviors and they're no longer doing activities that they used to find enjoyable and, robin, one of the big ones someone dealing with years of sobriety told me when someone starts to pull away from that sobriety community, stops going to meetings, stops going to treatment that can be a big warning sign. I would imagine so. This is another question, intervention. What's your advice to someone who wants to stage an intervention? Well, robin, yesterday I spoke with someone who is sober for over 20 years and now participates in interventions and he said the number one tip he would give is plan, plan, plan, ask for professional help and, robin, when that person agrees to go for treatment, they often will need a transporter to accompany them to the facility and this requires daily work. This is a lifelong battle like any other chronic illness. Thank you for saying that because what is it about addiction and people don't look at it the same way as other illnesses? Yeah, that's right, robin. If you can't see it sometimes people take it less seriously. I encourage people to look at this no differently than heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure. It's a disease, period. It is. All right, Jen, thank you as always.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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