Substance abuse is an emotional journey, and the retired Backstreet Boy AJ McLean is revealing how he handled his journey to sobriety, and just what it was that sent him on the path to redemption.

In an exclusive interview with People, McLean revealed that it was because of his daughter that he realized he needed major help before it was too late. 

AJ McLean reveals why he got sober

In an exclusive interview with People, AJ McLean is revealing the reason he decided to get help for his substance abuse, and 10 months later can proudly say he's sober.

US singer and member of the Backsteet Boys, AJ McLean arrives for the world premiere of Disney's "Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker".

His 20 year battle with drugs and alcohol took a toll on the 43-year-old, and the Backstreet Boy is opening up about the devastating encounter he shared with his three-year-old daughter that shook him to his core.

"So literally 10 months ago, I went to go see my girl Shania Twain in Vegas," McLean started. "Before I even got on the plane, I had already mapped out the whole night. I knew where I was going to go get my drugs. I knew where I was going to go get drunk."

He continued, "I knew all of it and I figured, 'Okay, it's one night. As long as I don't go past a certain time and I don't smell like it, I can go have a nice last hurrah and then come back home. My wife won't know; everything's going to be great.'"

The musician then added that it didn't work out the way he had planned at all, and his two daughters, Ava, 6 and Lyric, 3, witnessed his return home in a state no child should see their father in.

"It never ever works out that way," he said. "I never slept. I missed my first two flights back home and reeked of alcohol when I got home. My wife and I had always had this agreement, which was if I smelled like alcohol, I wasn't allowed to play with my kids — I couldn't be around my kids."

McLean then revealed what his daughter said that rocked his world enough to get sober.

"What really hit me was the moment, my youngest daughter Lyric said to me that night, 'You don't smell like my daddy.' And when she said that to me, that was it. Enough said. I felt disgusting," he said.

McLean, while sharing he's had many moments of weakness and "rock bottoms" throughout his life, admitted that this particular one hurt him the most.

"That was it for me," he said. As we say in the sober world, that was my moment of surrender. That was the moment I dropped to my knees and I said, 'God, I cannot do this on my own. I can't. I have tried and I have failed miserably. So help a brother out."

AJ McLean's road to recovery

McLean then revealed it didn't take him long to start working toward recovery, and within 24 hours had a plan to get sober.

AJ McLean attends Nights of the Jack Friends & Family Night.

"Literally the very next day, I went to a sober living house to celebrate a friend of mine's three years sobriety date," he explained.

"I was still hungover, but my sponsor looked at me and said, 'Okay, he's here. I see the final desperation in his eyes.' The next day he said, 'Be at my house at six o'clock and we're going to start the work.' I showed up at 5:20. I'm like, 'I'm in this, dude. I'm in it.' I've been in it for the last 10 months. It's the hardest I've ever had to work," he added.

McLean then admitted he was "a late bloomer" in the world of partying after finding fame with his participation in the widely loved 90s boyband The Backstreet Boys.

Saying that he didn't pick up a drink until he was 25, he admitted that following his rise to fame, he lacked the confidence needed to succeed in a highly demanding job.

"I fell into that world of low self-esteem and seeking external validation," he said. "Looking up from six feet under seemed like a good idea for the longest time, even if it wasn't done intentionally. I thought I didn't have anything worth really living for."

Now, the pop star is a contestant on Dancing With The Stars and is loving his new opportunity to changing his life around.

"This is the clearest I've ever been," he said. "I'm floating high—naturally. My family has saved my life, God has saved my life, and my recovery has saved my life. Without those three things, I wouldn't be here."

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