Lauren Conrad and Jason Wahler
Jonathan Leibson/FilmMagic; Todd Williamson/WireImage
08/02/2011 at 09:55 AM EDT
He's been clean one year and says he's a changed man. Now, The Hills
and Laguna Beach
alum Jason Wahler – who had a string of drunk driving arrests
and stints in rehab – is making strides with his personal life as well.
"I wanted to make amends with Lauren [Conrad]
," he says of his ex-girlfriend. "She was a big part of my life and there's stuff that happened in the past with my drunken ways that I needed to address."
Wahler, 24, currently works in Costa Mesa, Calif., at National Therapeutic Services as a mentor and sober companion. "It feels good to give back," says Wahler, who contacted Conrad recently after feeling more comfortable in his recovery.
"She's an incredible person and so supportive of anything I do to stay clean," he says. "But the timing had to be right before I reached back out."
Conrad, who was "impressed" with Wahler's achievement in sobriety, was "more shocked at what I'm doing for work," says the former reality star.
"I needed to humble myself a lot," he says. "A lot of those [Laguna
] people knew me before all the bad stuff, and thankfully I've been able to rekindle a lot of my old friendships."
So will Wahler return to Hollywood now that he's sober? He says he'll never go back to the day-and-night party scene of Los Angeles, but he did celebrate his sobriety last week with a bash at 31 Ten Lounge in Santa Monica, Calif.
Wahler's Celebrity Rehab
costars Janice Dickinson, Jeremy London, Jason Davis and Leif Garrett showed their support and attended the party, which was sponsored by Sober is Sexy and Body Armor. His new girlfriend of a few weeks, Ashley Slack, a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, was also there to support Wahler.
Says Wahler of his new life, "I think being clean and having my boundaries and my limitations, I have a much clearer head."