GYM CLASS HEROES star Travie McCoy's drug problems began when he was 14 as he attempted to cope with school bullies who taunted him about his weight and his mixed race roots.
The half-Haitian pop star was a heavy-set teen, who weighed in at 280 pounds when he began high school in the mid-1990s - and he was a very easy target for tormentors in Geneva, New York.
He says, "I'd get the 'lard a**' or 'fatty' (comments) but there was one kid in particular, who just had it out for me. I remember I was in the bathroom, using the urinal... and he came behind me and started shaking me... There was p**s everywhere.
"There were times I'd go home and just bawl, literally just cry like, 'Why me?'"
To mask his misery, MCCoy turned to prescription drugs and alcohol and, in a new Behind The Music Tv expose, which aired in the U.S. on Sunday (14Oct12), he reveals his self-medicating spiralled out of control.
He explains, "It started with that warm feeling, that wave you get when you first take a painkiller and you drink a 40 (ounce beer) - 'I was sad 20 minutes ago and now I'm the happiest person in the world'. I had no idea what I was getting myself into."
As he found fame with Gym Class Heroes, years and years of drug abuse took their toll and MCCoy became a full-blown addict after he was prescribed morphine and Oxycontin to help him cope with the pain of knee surgery.
He recalls, "Oxycontin started showing up at parties and I'm like, 'Oh, I remember those. I can take one; I'll be alright. And one turned into three or four and the next thing you know I'm not just popping them, I'm crushing them and snorting them."
The star was given an ultimatum by his bandmates and record executives at Fall Out Boy rocker Pete Wentz's label Decaydance Records - quit the drugs and get clean or give up the dream of a big break.
MCCoy recalls, "I basically broke down... and they put me in a 30-day detox... I had to go to meetings every day with alcoholics and heroin addicts but I got through it, I got myself clean... I had this whole new outlook on life."
But he wasn't sober for long as fans started offering painkillers in return for photo opportunities and chances to hang out with the band.
He says, "I was a functioning addict. Over the years I got really good at hiding the fact that I was really messed up... It got to a point where I wasn't really getting high any more. I was just maintaining, just using to not get sick, so that led to having to get high before I could even go onstage."
After four failed rehab stints, MCCoy called on friends to help him kick his habit cold turkey in late 2009 and he insists he has been sober ever since.