Backstreet Boys star A.J. McLean tried cocaine for the first time just before he filmed a music video.

The singer has been open about his substance abuse issues in the past and now he tells People magazine he was introduced to hard drugs the night before he and his bandmates shot The Call promo.

"It was the first time I ever tried it because it was a late-night shoot," he recalls. "I was with a friend at the time, who's clearly not a friend anymore, and they offered it to me. I said, 'No'. Then I caved and I did it."

A.J. admits he didn't have a good trip: "When I showed up on set and I got in the make-up chair, I told everybody. I was like, 'I’m freaking out. I’m on this. I’m on that'. They were like, 'You need to stop. Don’t tell the world that you’re on drugs right now'.

"Somehow, someway, I kept it a secret from everyone for the next at least 18 months before the boys caught on, before my family caught on, before my real friends caught on. I found a way to really keep it under the rug."

His drug abuse led to excessive drinking, and his bandmates eventually realised McLean was struggling and that prompted a showdown with straight-laced Kevin Richardson.

"He said to me if I continued using, 'I will never trust you again. You’re dead to me'."

That prompted McLean to seek help but he wouldn't overcome his addictions for almost two decades and it took something his youngest daughter, Lyric, said to him last December after he returned home from a trip to Las Vegas, smelling of alcohol, to kick his bad habits once and for all.

"Lyric said to me that night, 'You don’t smell like my daddy'," he adds. "And when she said that to me, that was it. Enough said. I felt disgusting."

Now competing on TV show Dancing with the Stars, A.J. attends daily 12-step meetings online and checks in with his sponsor six times a day to make sure he doesn't slip up, according to People.

"As hard as it is to say, I have zero regrets and am beyond lucky to still be here," he tells the publication. "I can genuinely say I love myself today."