After her addiction to alcohol almost killed her, The Bachelorette's Meredith Phillips is speaking out about her battle with booze — a "full-time job" where she would drink seven nights a week, up to four bottles a night and black out daily.
"For years I'd wake up every day feeling like I was hit by a truck," Phillips, who starred on Bob Guiney's season of the hit ABC show, said in a new interview. Speaking to PEOPLE, the 39-year-old revealed she recently completed two months of inpatient treatment at Hope by the Sea in San Juan Capistrano, Calif.
The self-proclaimed "messy drinker" added: "I realized I was going to kill myself. There wasn't another path for me other than to stop. I'm finally starting to live my life again."
Like many alcoholics, Phillips said she began drinking at an early age, growing up in Portland, Ore. "I'd ask for sips of my parents' wine and they'd allow it," she said.
Soon after, wild parties ensued, where Phillips admitted she'd pride herself on "drinking 12 beer bongs by 12 p.m., even if I woke up at 10 a.m. I thought it was cool that I was a chick and could do that."
And during The Bachelorette -- Guiney sent Phillips home fourth-to-last during the series -- she was "drunk every night."
"But I knew my tolerance levels," she said. "Alcoholics are good at that. I figured out how much I drink and function.
"I would split of bottle of champagne with friends at brunch, then move on to wine. I looked forward to going out to lunch because it meant I had an excuse to drink during the day. I loved that it loosened me up, made me more social.
"I drank red wine when white wine got too sweet and I couldn't get enough of it," she added.
"Then I went to the boxed wine. Crushing one box saved the space of all those bottled. I was constantly in a fog. I had pounding headaches and tremors. I got nothing done."
The good news: After decades of numbing life's pains with alcohol, things are picking up. Phillips is back with her husband, Michael Broady, after a brief estrangement.
"I want things to work," she said.
"I still have a lot of healing to do, but I'm feeling better every day. There are definitely times when I miss drinking. I'm not saying one day I won't want that glass of wine, but I don't right now and that's a good start. Life is short and I have a second chance."