“I would get tired because we were partying so much, so I would do a bump [of cocaine] just to wake myself up,” he says.
“I would be that person who would stay at these clubs till the lights come on and they’re playing “Don’t Stop Believin.'” People are looking at me going, ‘Is that Nick Carter?
“I tell him all the time, ‘You’re a completely different person than a year ago,'” says Aaron. And now he’s happy, fun to be around.” The biggest change, however, is that Carter is looking to the future instead of at the past.
“Financially, emotionally—everything.” And while he was out touring the world, his home life was falling apart.
Not only was his parents’ marriage breaking down, but rumors—never proven—had started to surface that the Backstreet Boys’ former manager Lou Pearlman was behaving inappropriately with some of his boy-band charges.
But the night before his results were due back, “I went out and I just went nuts,” he recalls, staring out at the Pacific Ocean through the windows of his high-rise condo in Santa Monica. I felt like I was trying to kill myself—because I didn’t want to get the results.” Carter had good reason to be afraid: The years of abusing his body had left a buildup of toxins in his heart, weakening the muscle so that it had difficulty pumping blood.
This condition, known as cardiomyopathy (see box), is the same one that led to the death of singer Andy Gibb and killed actor Chris Penn—and Carter learned it could kill him as well if he didn’t get clean and sober.
“The kids would be thrown into the middle, to choose sides.” The dysfunction only intensified after Carter found success as “the cute one” in the Backstreet Boys, which he joined at age 12.