When you watch "Jersey Shore," you'll sometimes see its hard-partying castmembers wake up from rough nights out at the club with their hair disheveled, their rooms a mess and, if they're lucky, a companion in their bed.
But in addition to headaches and fuzzy memories, "Shore" lightning rod Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino said he often woke up with the kind of hangover a glass of water and a few hours in the gym can't cure: deep regret.
"That was going through my head every morning when I'd wake up," Sorrentino told MTV News' Sway Calloway in an exclusive interview in which he discussed his fears that an addiction to prescription painkillers could have cost him the friends, relationships and the budding celebrity he'd struggled to achieve. "The thought that possibly I would disappoint my loved ones ... the things that I've worked so hard for in my career, I just didn't want to lose that."
Compound those fears with the fact that Sorrentino's business life is inextricably linked with his family — his two brothers and sister work with him — and you have a frightening scenario that scared Mike into checking into a rehab facility earlier this year. "If I fell," he said, "lots of people fell. ... It definitely was a lot of weight. If I was to make such a huge mistake or not [be] able to recover, so to speak, because of a substance ... it was definitely something that I didn't want to happen."
As he slipped into addiction, Sorrentino didn't hang around with family, and, most noticeably for the originator of the "GTL" phenomenon, he stopped going to the gym. When the latter happened, that's when the rest of the Sorrentino clan began to ask questions. "Once I stopped going to the gym, the family started to immediately notice," he said. "They were like, 'Why isn't Mike going to the gym? Is he OK?' "
Every addict will have at least one story about when they hit rock bottom, and Mike is no different. His bottom came during a personal appearance tour in Australia when he was, as always, surrounded by family. "I had the whole team there, and all I had to do was go to the appearance for an hour," he said. "And I was so tired that I had trouble getting dressed. Just getting dressed. The outfit was actually laid out for me ... all I had to do was jump in the shower and put the clothes on."
With his brother, his best friends and other close members of his team scratching their heads, Mike felt the pressure of the moment and could see that they knew something was wrong. "The whole team [was] looking at me like, 'If Mike doesn't get up on this, we're gonna have a problem.' " He did eventually rally, but he knew it shouldn't be that hard or take that long.
"I realized right then and there: I was so tired I couldn't do that — how am I going to do any other job?" he recalled. "I needed to ask for help. I was willing to say, 'This thing is bigger than me.' I knew that I couldn't do it alone."
The first people to approach him and suggest he needed help were his older brother and business partner, Marc, and younger sister Melissa. "For him to come up to me and say something ... it was very sincere, and I didn't want to disappoint him," Mike said of his brother, whom he respects above just about anyone. And so, with the help of his family and friends, Mike decided to take the necessary steps to get help.
"It was already on my mind that I needed help and I could do this," he said. "But I didn't really know how to go about it."