28-year-old Alexis Haines has been infamous for her meltdowns in E!’s reality series “Pretty Wild” and the dramatization surrounding celebrity robberies by the teenage gang known as the “Bling Ring.” About a decade later, Haines is sharing her truth regarding her heroin addiction recovery, and past as a former “wild child” to influence addicts across the globe in her podcast and memoir, both titled “Recovering from Reality.”
While many people know Haines for these two depictions of her life, she explains that they are unaware of the events that occured prior to and following the reality show and “The Bling Ring.”
“I wouldn’t have it any other way because had I not gone to jail, I probably wouldn’t be alive today and that’s the truth,” Haines said.
The truth is, before “Pretty Wild” aired on television, Haines grew up in a home with divorced parents, an abusive, alcoholic father and incest. Haine’s sexual abuse began around age five and lasted for several years. Her dad who was a well-known director/photographer in the industry lost his job due to addiction when Haines was young, resulting in homelessness.
Due to these circumstances, Haines and her sister were trying to make it as background dancers and models in the industry when they were discovered for E!’s reality show “Pretty Wild.” The show, intended to be about an alternative, hippie-esc family who was trying to make it in LA, quickly turned into a show about the Bling Ring. Which she also became the face of, rather than the two teenagers who actually were the masterminds behind the operation, due to her notability from the reality show.
“So I was also keeping the biggest secret of all,” Haines said. “Aside from what my homelife was really like and my sexual abuse and that I was raped again at seventeen, was that I was a heroin addict the entire time I was filming the show. So what looked like this really glamorous life on the outside was really me like, slowly dying day by day on the inside.”
It was not until she spent the summer in prison as an accomplice to a group of teens who were charged for breaking, entering and stealing from celebrity homes in Los Angeles, that Haines realized heroin was a problem.
“When you’re in active addiction, that substance that you’ve been using, that’s your lifeline,” Haines said. “I had every single excuse that I could think of in my playbook, but it wasn’t until I went to jail and detoxed and spent that summer in jail that I realized, like, ‘whoa. Maybe heroin is a problem for you and maybe you should stop using heroin.’ I laugh at that now because I’m like, ‘no sweetie. You were the problem.’ The heroin was the solution to the problem temporarily and it’s not working anymore, but the problem is in you.”
While nobody in Haines’s family had ever gotten sober, and she was lacking the resources and support to recover, she owes her recovery to Judge Peter Espinoza, who gave her a second chance at life when the DA wanted to sentence her to 6 years in prison, but Espinoza sentenced Haines to a year in treatment. After prison, Haines relapsed and, about three months into rehab, she realized that she was the ultimate problem and the only person with the ability to change her life around.
In regards to Haines working through her sexual trauma, she found that she would only correlate it with her sex life. However, when she began to do the work with a therapist, she realized that when a person is sexually abused, it doesn’t just affect their sex life, but rather, every single aspect of your life. Not to mention, Haines is open about her sex life today, in recovery, normalizing physical and mental responses to trauma in bed and within relationships.
“Starting with the belief systems that ‘my body is not my own, it’s just a tool to be used by other people, I am unworthy of love and safety,’” Haines said. “It affected my schoolwork, it affected my ability to make friends, it affected my ability to have healthy, intimate relationships, it affected the way that I viewed sex, it affected my pregnancies, it affected child birth. It literally permeated every single aspect of my life and I’m really grateful that I’m a conscious person today and I know that. I’m also really grateful for my incredible partner who is a super-masculine dude, who is an ultra-feminist, who understands abuse and has been really gentle and kind with me throughout our relationship and I am happy to report that I have a great sex life and it totally is possible to have that.
Along with Haines’ recovery from her sexual abuse, she acknowledges that it is necessary and important to observe the reactions which result from traumatic experiences, and that it is possible to move beyond them into a healthy sex life.
It’s about communicating your needs,” Haines said. “For me, I don’t like kissing while we have sex because I feel like I can’t breathe, so I have to do the work to know that’s a trigger for me so I can express that to my partner and feel safe when we’re intimate.”
Haines’s describes her podcast, “Recovering from Reality” is a platform for people who “want to wake the fuck up.” Her process of recovery is truly that. Waking up to what the world and society is at its core and fully immersing oneself within that life, in sobriety.
“Waking the fuck up has happened in incriments throughout my sobriety,” Haines said. “But I started waking up to who we are as a culture and as a society and people in this world. That happened right around the 2016 election and that’s kind of when the activist in me was born. I remember my mom getting mad at me because I would yell at her about my dad’s behavior. I would say ‘this behavior is horrible. I’m not talking to him anymore.’ It’s funny, in my show, when they asked me who I look up to and I said, ‘Angelina Jolie because she has a hot husband.’ They only used that clip but I went into how I’ve admired her and Oprah’s philanthropic work. I grew up in a time when Obama was president and gay marriage was okay and all of these really progressive things and then all of a sudden I just kind of woke up to reality of like, No. We still live in a very sick society and I need to help people get out of the sickness.”
Haines explains that, oftentimes, people similar to her parents, in her childhood and adolescence, cling to their faith in order to bypass the trauma that they had had to work through themselves, which Haines calls “spiritual bypassing.” Nonetheless, the Buddhist teachings surrounding her childhood, still resonates with her healing today.
“What happened for my family was that I had two really traumatized parents who were using this alternative approach, which is now mainstream,” Haines said. “The difference is, I’ve done the subconscious work, I’ve done the trauma work and yeah, you’ll find a 2,900 pound rose quartz in my living room right now and a Buddha on my bedroom floor and I meditate every day. I do yoga, breathwork, and I’m still very much so into alternative healing and my Buddhist practice today, and it’s an amazing gift that I’ve had that foundation and now that I’ve started into this work, I can deepen it with these other practices.”
Haines, now works closely with the recovery center, Alo House, hosts her podcast, “Recovering from Reality,” has a published memoir, “Recovering from Reality” along with a family of her own consisting of a healthy relationship and two children. She aims to inspire others around the world, struggling with addiction so that they too can have a come-back like her own.
“Would you rather stay unconscious and operate from that state of unconsciousness? Meanwhile life is happening to you, you’re not doing anything with your life or would you rather deal with moments of temporary suffering and uncomfortability in order to have the life beyond your wildest dreams?” Haines said. “Everybody is worthy of peace and it’s obtainable and I don’t care what you’ve done, what are your deepest darkest secrets, you can recover from reality and not only can you, but you deserve to. You can join us and everybody is welcome here.”