"The Bachelor" winner Zac Clark was very open about his former addiction issues while competing for Tayshia Adams' heart on the popular ABC reality TV show. He's now explaining how deep he went in order to fuel his habit, including once removing a fully-functioning organ from his body to get pain pills.
While speaking on the "Heart of the Matter with Elizabeth Vargas" podcast, the 37-year-old detailed drinking in middle school at a holiday party.
"I know a lot of people describe that first drink as this white light experience. But for me, I think the only thing that changed is I learned that I could lie and get away with it," he said. "So I, like, went back to the party where my parents were at, and they asked me what I was doing and I lied about it. And then, you know, the next morning, Christmas carried on as usual. And so, for me, for the next 15 years, I knew I had this new thing, which was I could lie at any time and get away with it."
In college, Zac moved on to drugs.
"At some point, I think I was introduced to Adderall. And the Adderall eventually turned into some cocaine use here and there," he said. "I would not tell you that my drug use was so rampant during college. I mean, I was playing baseball, and I was trying to get out of there in four years, which I was able to do. And, you know, I started dating a girl my sophomore year that I would eventually marry. So, I had a lot of the outsides going on."
His partying, though, got more intense, and he desperately wanted more pills. After some thinking, Zac decided to try to convince a doctor to remove his gallbladder so that he could get prescription pills.
"I didn't know what my plan was," he said. "And then I think dehydration or something kicked in and I felt my side. I was like, 'I think I can figure something out here. I think I Googled, you know, whatever symptoms I had to Google. And I'll never forget — I probably owe this guy an apology, like we make apologies — but the doctor walked in. He was from my hometown. So I knew in that moment that I'm good because he's gonna believe me. I'm going to schmooze him. And sure enough, he was giving me Dilaudid within a half hour and I ended up going through with the surgery."
He added, "I'll never forget right before — you know, they put you under, they knock you out for that surgery — the doctor looked at me in the eye and he goes, 'You know what we're doing today, right?' I said, 'Yeah, you're taking my gallbladder out.' He said, 'Before I put you under, I just want to make sure you want to go through with this.' And I was like, 'Yep.' And I did it. It was nuts."
Eventually, Zac's then-wife declared that she would leave him if he continued with his lifestyle, and he went to rehab. Still, that did little to curb his habit.
"About two weeks after getting out of treatment, I was trying to get high. She walked down, caught me, and then she kicked me out that night. And she was done," Zac said. "She kept her boundary; her dad drove down; that was the last night I slept in that house. I always tell her, like, she saved my life because she was the first person to really tell me that, like, the party's over. Just an amazing job by her of setting the boundary."
While in the throes of his addiction (which he confirmed included heroin usage), Zac recalled even stealing blank checks from his father to try to cash them for drugs. That proved to be the last straw.
"I walk into a PNC Bank in Camden, New Jersey. I had two drug dealers waiting outside the door for me. So, I was gonna cash this check and, you know, go do whatever we were gonna do," he said.
A bank teller, however, had an idea of what was going on and called his dad. Just days later, Zac checked into Caron Treatment Center in Pennsylvania, where he stayed for four months. Now 10 years sober, Zac is on the center's board and works as an addiction specialist.
"That woman saved my life for sure," he said.