Alexis Haines may have been the star of her own reality TV series, but behind closed doors, she was doing everything possible to get high.
Haines and her tumultuous family were the subjects of E!’s “Pretty Wild,” which briefly aired in 2010. But Haines, now 28, stirred headlines that year when she was arrested as an accomplice in the Bling Ring, a group of teens who were charged with breaking into celebrity homes and stealing jewelry, clothing and other valuables, ET Online reported in December. Haines’ arrest took place on the second day of filming.
According to the outlet, Haines pleaded no contest to burglary charges in the case and served one month of her six-month sentence in a Los Angeles county jail. That same year, the show was canceled and Haines was arrested again -- but this time, her life took another dramatic turn.
Haines recently released a memoir titled “Recovering from Reality,” which details how she hit rock bottom and managed to survive it. She spoke to Fox News about her chaotic childhood, why she needed to get high every day and how jail saved her life.
Fox News: What inspired you to write this book?
Alexis Haines: I felt like I woke up to our reality. I took a look at the world that we’re living in and the current statistics regarding opioid overdoses and asked myself, "Why are we dealing with all of this pain? Why are so many people eager to check out?"
I made a choice when I got sober that I was going to stay out of the spotlight from here on out. This is when I was 19 years old. I went to treatment for my opioid addiction. But I had this moment. Hopefully, this will be a movement of people waking up and realizing there’s a way out of this. It’s so much more than a memoir. That’s what began motivating me.
Fox News: You were born in Calabasas, a place the Kardashians have made famous. What was that like?
Haines: My mom was this really free-spirited, pot-smoking hippie chick who came to California because she wanted to be a model. My dad was the director of photography on "Friends" and "The Nanny." They each struggled with substance abuse. My dad was a very bad alcoholic. My mom and he ended up separating when I was just 3 years old. For the first number of years in my life, it was chaotic, but we lived in a nice home. We were going to great schools… It wasn’t until my preteen years that my dad wound up homeless. He lost everything. I was this girl who was poor in a very wealthy neighborhood.
Fox News: How did your chaotic upbringing impact you?
Haines: It affected me in major ways. My mom was too embarrassed to use food stamps. So she made my sister and I go to the grocery store and pay with the EBT [electronic benefits transfer] card. She was too afraid to apply for food stamps because of the way it would look. So she used my dad’s. We shopped at thrift stores while all the other girls at my school were carrying around little Louis Vuitton bags. There was a Christmas where we re-wrapped things that we already owned so that it looked like we had more presents under the tree. There was one point where we couldn’t even afford toilet paper. It was really challenging.
I also endured abuse, which I discuss in my book. It was pure chaos. By the time I was around 12 years old, I knew I had to check out from reality because it was too painful to exist in it. So I started exploring with alcohol and whatever drugs I could get my hands on.
Fox News: What happened when you turned 14?
Haines: I had surgery for the first time. I remember a few days later feeling better and taking one of the Vicodin pills that was prescribed to me for pain management. I felt the physical effects of that… I felt the relief of my emotional pain… Just a year later, I was smoking OxyContin every day. A year after that, I was on heroin, hooked on it. It was a fast progression. Opioids felt like a warm hug from your parents that you never got. It provided me with everything I needed to feel safe.
Fox News: How did you then end up with your own reality TV series?
Haines: My mom really encouraged us to pursue acting. We had been in acting and dancing classes our entire lives. But when I graduated, I decided I wanted to pursue a career in the world of entertainment. [My sister] Tess and I began going out on auditions. We were booking gigs. We then met a producer on the set of a movie that we were extras in. We ended up telling him our crazy life story… He said, "You should shoot a sizzle reel and see what happens." Now, this is a one-in-a-million shot. I never thought we would ever get a reality show.
Fox News: How easy was it to get your own show?
Haines: We pitched it to all of the networks… Next thing I knew, E! picked it up. It happened pretty quickly. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. We were so naïve and the money was really enticing. We had been struggling financially for so many years and my mom felt this would finally be some relief. Initially, the show had nothing to do with my court case because there was no court case. I was arrested on the second day of filming. The show was just about our crazy life… I went on to fight my case on national television as a 19-year-old heroin addict.
Fox News: How did you end up getting involved with the Bling Ring?
Haines: I think because of my show, I became the face of the Bling Ring... I guess it sounded more exciting that there was this reality TV star who was part of the Bling Ring instead of these groups of kids in Calabasas. And then my show kept it in the news for a really long time. I met [member] Nick Prugo in the spring of that year.
He had already been robbing houses for about four months before that. I think he began robbing Paris Hilton’s house in December and then I met him in April. We were just kids that grew up in the same area and hung out… We ended up getting kicked out of my mom’s house that summer before we started filming the show. The addiction just spiraled out of control. So we stayed with Nick.
One of the nights that I was with Nick was the night that he took me to Orlando Bloom’s house, which is where the robbery transpired… The truth is I was only ever charged with one burglary as an accomplice. I was never the Bling Ring mastermind. I go into this more in the book.
There’s just honestly not that much to tell… I didn’t know it was Orlando Bloom’s house… I stopped talking to Nick after that. And I actually called the police multiple times during that summer to report what had happened but I didn’t know the details. I didn’t know an address, I didn’t know who owned the house. I didn’t know the location. I was just driven there… When the police showed up to arrest me, I thought they were there to talk to me. That’s how naive I was. It was like, "Oh, you guys are finally here, I have been trying to call for weeks." I had no idea they were coming to arrest me.
Fox News: How big a role did drugs play while you were filming “Pretty Wild”?
Haines: Because of the money I was receiving, my usage escalated to the highest point… I was spending about $10,000 a week on drugs and alcohol. That was between my sister and I. And our partying got to a point where my sister couldn’t even show up for filming. I ended up accepting a plea deal. I was so high I couldn’t go to trial. And no one in my family had gotten sober before. No one knew what rehab was. No one knew what to do with me. And honestly, I was so volatile back then that no one could even say anything. I was scary.
Drugs were providing me relief from my current existence. Here I was this child, barely 18. I was sexually abused in my childhood… All the trauma and pain of my childhood was there. Now on top of that, I’m being publicly ridiculed every day and my addiction was just getting worse.
Fox News: What role did the media play?
Haines: People started taking pictures of me at parties using drugs and then selling them to websites. The amount of shame grew so much that I just needed to use more. That way I wouldn't feel it anymore. I was using drugs from the second I woke up until the second I went to bed. And the thing with opioids is that your tolerance continues to go up. So I needed more and more.
Fox News: Were you high while filming?
Haines: From the second that we stopped filming a scene, I would turn off my mic, run to the bathroom and get loaded… We kept drugs on our nightstand so when we woke up, we smoked heroin. After hair and makeup, smoke again. After filming a scene, smoke again… When we were done, we would then get loaded as much as we possibly could. Go to sleep. And when we woke up, we would do it all over again.
Fox News: When did you realize you needed help with your addiction?
Haines: Jail saved my life. It gave me perspective. It gave me empathy and compassion for other people. That’s when I began to wake up. When I met the women in jail and heard their stories, I didn’t feel alone anymore. It wasn’t just me. When I was in jail, I could clearly see I had a problem with heroin.
But when I got out, I had no resources. They put me on probation, but no one was offering me therapy. No one was telling me I should talk to someone. For two weeks, I was able to stay sober. But by the end of those two weeks, I was having so many panic attacks that I ended up getting loaded… Thankfully, I was arrested and put back in jail.
Fox News: You also said Judge Peter Espinoza saved your life. Why?
Haines: Had he sentenced me to six years in prison, which is what I was facing for violating my probation, I would have come out more broken… Getting treatment and finding out I had PTSD, I had severe anxiety, I had severe depression, and that there were other ways to cope instead of poking a needle in my arm -- it saved my life. He sentenced me to a year in treatment. I wish I could say I went in gracefully, but I was honestly the biggest pain in the a--... But I am sober today.
Fox News: What’s life like today?
Haines: My home life is really peaceful. When I married my husband seven years ago, we made the decision that we were going to break the cycle in both of our families. We were no longer going to continue down the path of trauma. Things are a lot better. I’m also a parent. My children are thriving… My mother also got help and I’m really happy to say our relationship is so much better now. Things have also gotten better with my dad. I never thought that would be possible. Somehow I’m doing it… It’s a gift that sobriety has given me.