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Steel Magnolia Singer's Battle with Drug Abuse

Steel Magnolia Singer's Battle with Drug Abuse
Joshua Scott Jones
Allison Michael Orenstein

updated 03/28/2014 at 01:35 PM EDT

originally published 04/05/2014 03:20PM

On the morning of Sept. 17, 2011, Joshua Scott Jones was alone in the presidential suite at a San Diego Hyatt, nursing a beer.

Groggy from popping pills and drinking all night with strangers, he didn't want the party to end, but his Steel Magnolia partner Meghan Linsey and their band had wanted no part of Jones's binge and had gone their separate ways the night before.

"No one wanted to be around me," he tells PEOPLE Country. "I had alienated everybody."

In despair Jones gazed out his window and considered the 42 floors below: suicide.

"It went through my head," he says. "But I knew it would be a mess, and I didn't want anybody to see me like that. I was like, 'I can't end it like this.'"

Instead he dropped to his knees and lay his head on the hotel bed. "I cried out to God, 'You've got to do something.' "

It was a turning point for Jones, for whom substance abuse had long been a daily routine.

"On any given weekend, it was pills, booze, and once the party started, it didn't stop," he says.

So just as Steel Magnolia's fortunes were flying high – their debut album had hit No. 3 on the charts that year, and they were nominated for their second CMA award – Jones finally faced his addiction and entered rehab.

"It was the most difficult thing of my adult life," says Jones, 33. "But I needed to change. Something had to give."

The singer's drug use destroyed his personal and professional relationship with Linsey – the two broke off their engagement not long after his stint in rehab and the band dissolved last year – but today Jones remains clean with a new outlook and a new solo career.

"I used to think I needed a drink to do a great show or smoke pot to write a great song. It's not true. It's the opposite," says Jones, whose new album The Healing, written during and after rehab, is out June 3.

"I feel and enjoy things so much more."

For more of the story, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE Country on newsstands, or download the enhanced digital issue in the PEOPLE app in the Apple iTunes store. For full access to PEOPLE – including the digital Country issue, bonus Country extras only for subscribers, our weekly magazine and more – click below

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