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AJ McLean on Two Years of Sobriety: 'It Never Gets Easier, But It Just Becomes a Working Part of the Mind'

Sep. 25 2023, Published 4:32 p.m. ET

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AJ McLean is best known for being a member of the '90s boy band, the Backstreet Boys. In recent years, the group has reunited for their DNA World Tour, completed a Las Vegas residency, and more. But McLean is celebrating an even bigger milestone: two years of sobriety.

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On September 23, the singer opened up to People about his sober anniversary at the iHeartRadio Festival in Las Vegas.

"This coming Tuesday, I will be two years sober, so life is grand right now," McLean told the publication.

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AJ McClean spoke about addiction after two years of sobriety.

Maintaining his sobriety is a daily effort, McClean, 45, explained.

“It never gets easier, but it just becomes a working part of the mind,” he told People. “You have to literally make it an everyday thing whether you make it to a meeting or not.”

He added: “I talk to my sponsor every day. I talk to people in program every day."

Not only has McLean worked hard to maintain his sobriety, the singer also took steps to improve his mental health. Earlier in 2023 — after the Backstreet Boys' DNA World Tour wrapped up in May — McLean voluntarily attended an outpatient mental health program, spending 10 weeks in Arizona.

“I knew I had a window of time, so I said, ‘You know what? I need to do some inner work," he shared. The sobriety thing is good. I need to go back and do some digging.’ Ten weeks for the rest of my life, I am super grateful for it. It was totally worth it.”

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AJ previously opened up about his alcohol and drug addictions.

In an October 2020 interview with Good Morning America, McLean opened up about his 20-year struggle with addiction.

"The first time I tried drugs was literally an hour before my call time to 'The Call' video shoot," he shared. "I was off the walls."

Although he tried to keep his addiction a secret, eventually, his bandmates found out about his struggle.

"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," McLean explained. "I wasn't me anymore, you know? I was just living a lie."

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Through the years, McLean experienced stints of sobriety and addiction — but after returning from a trip to Las Vegas, his mindset finally changed.

"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," he told GMA.

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McLean continued: "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."


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