The Journey of Jason Wahler From Laguna Beach to The Hills: His Struggles With Addiction
Jason Wahler started on Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County as a student at Laguna Beach High School. This was during the second season when Lauren Conrad was in less of a prominent role with Kristin Cavallari taking over the main spotlight. Like the other students at Laguna Beach High School, he eventually left the high school to go on to different things. Like Conrad, he would go on to make guest appearances on the show during its third season. During different points on the show, Wahler would end up dating Conrad and other co-stars on the show, Alex Murrel and Jessica Smith. But, that was not the end of his journey.
The first season of The Hills brings Wahler back into focus on the show. Conrad ends up rejecting a potential internship opportunity in Paris, France, in order to focus on reuniting with Wahler, her former boyfriend. As the second season began, Conrad and Wahler were once again broken up. Conrad’s former college, Whitney Port, a Teen Vogue intern, ended up taking the position herself.
After his on and off-again romance with Conrad, things began to take a downward turn for Wahler. He started to begin a serious battle with alcoholism, one that would take many turns for the worst. Between the fall of 2006 and spring of 2007, he was arrested four different times on everything from assault to disorderly conduct. They came after binge drinking several times. He went to Laguna Beach rehab centers or some other rehab help in order to improve. Yet, it did not stop there.
He was arrested on March 19, 2010, for driving under the influence of alcohol. The week before, he was arrested in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico by Mexican authorities following an alleged nightclub fight. This is his sixth drinking-related arrest during that time period. Wahler felt so horrible about it, he started to seek suicide. “My addiction drove me to suicide,” Wahler stated. “Not contemplation – actually attempting suicide – and somebody found me and that’s why I’m still here today. I’m very grateful for that.”
Wahler said he became someone else when he was drunk and dealing with the need for Laguna Beach rehab centers. “I became a totally different person active in my addiction versus when I’m sober and living life in recovery. It’s a totally different mentality and thought process – the way my brain operates, it’s completely different.”
Wahler said in another interview that he had other plans initially after his time in high school was over. “I was supposed to go to school and college for baseball, down that path, and the phenomenon of the show came up,” Wahler stated. “Everything transitioned…. There was a lot of pros to this – there was a lot of things that came overnight that were very, very glamorous, I guess you can call it – and that’s when that downward spiral happened for me.”
Wahler stated it “ignited” his addiction and like dominos, things began to fall apart for him. Wahler turned his life around. His story is one of struggle but also one of redemption and victory over addiction. He became clean as of July 23, 2010, and eventually married the love of his life—- Ashley Slack—- 11 months following his recovery.
Wahler also began operating Widespread Recovery, a sober-living facility he founded and owns in Orange County, California. According to his website, he is using his personal experience and public profile, “to inspire people struggling with addiction and alcoholism.” He stated he is surprised at where he is at in his life today.
“Looking back over the course of the past 5 years I never thought I would be where I am at today,” Wahler said. “If you told me I would find my passion and motivation working in the recovery industry, I would have thought you were crazy. Today, I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
Conrad, herself, felt bad for Wahler after the two parted ways. “So when I saw Jason that day, it was the first time I had seen him since we had broken up,” Conrad said. “It was really hard. What made it harder was I could see he wasn’t sober.” Today, she still feels awful about her split with Wahler and the subsequent substance abuse struggles he had.
“That really broke me, because I felt like a responsibility to take care of him, and I felt like when we broke up I was abandoning him,” Conrad stated. “Because there were a lot of nights that I was getting 2 a.m. phone calls and I had to go pick him up passed out in the back of a club. So I was like who is doing that now, I know he doesn’t have friends who are doing it… I was like, oh god, no one is taking care of him.”
Lauren, however, made a very true statement about Wahler when he briefly made another appearance on The Hills: “Jason’s story has a happy ending,” Conrad said. “He is sober now and married and very happy.” Indeed, Wahler has finally found peace after a long series of substance addiction struggles.
About the author: Tommy Zimmer is a writer whose work has appeared online and in print. His work covers a variety of topics, including politics, economics, health and wellness, addiction and recovery, and the entertainment industry.