Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino is opening up about his tumultuous journey to sobriety in a brand new way.
The 41-year-old Jersey Shore star sat down with ET’s Rachel Smith at his home in New Jersey, where he opened up about his bad habits and how much money he sank to enable them. Sorrentino says things got so out of hand with his addiction to painkillers he’d even smuggle them whenever he was filming.
As he’s addressed publicly in the years since, Sorrentino secretly battled substance abuse while appearing on TV and served eight months in prison in 2019 for tax evasion. The longtime reality star has since turned his life around, completing his prison sentence, celebrating eight years of sobriety, reuniting with his castmates on the revival series, Jersey Shore: Family Vacation, and marrying his college sweetheart, Lauren, in 2018.
Now at this place in his life, Sorrentino, who will celebrate eight years of sobriety in December, is revealing his harrowing past in a new and gripping memoir, Reality Check: Making the Best of The Situation — How I Overcame Addiction, Loss, and Prison, out Dec. 19.
As the soon-to-be father of three looks back on his trials and tribulations with ET, he recalls the desperate measures he almost resorted to when funds were low.
Sorrentino confesses that he kept a sex tape in his office as a potential “insurance policy” in case he was ever low on money. He admits that he sought advice from his team on releasing the tape to the public for the right price.
“There was one. I think it’s been destroyed… the video wasn’t released [because] the offers weren’t good enough,” Sorrentino reveals. “They were a combo of revenue from the sales or streams. It wasn’t as big of an upfront payment as I wanted. It wasn’t Jersey Shore money, so I wasn’t going to put myself out there like that.”
The Family Vacation star noted that he wanted to be completely candid with his readers, adding, “I was down on my luck, and I wanted to soften the fall, and there was that emergency sex tape. I had to tell my mother and Lauren, ‘I have to do this, it’s been here for years.’ And we went down that journey of selling it and we decided not to.”
While the experience was certainly a humbling one for Sorrentino, it wasn’t his lowest.
“When I finally got to rehab in 2015 that was definitely my low, but my lowest was like a day or so before that, when I did something I never thought I was gonna do,” he says. “I ended up trying a drug that I never thought I would try. A drug that kills most people. A drug that most people don’t come back from. A drug that I told myself that I would never do, that I thought was dirty. It was heroin.”
Sorrentino says he was overcome with disappointment after trying heroin. At that point, he’d already been addicted to oxycodone, he says, “but I was desperate and I was in that hole.”
“I was depressed and [with] anxiety and self-doubt,” he adds. “I had given up on myself. I just wanted to get out of that space mentally.”
As if addiction already didn’t hold a tight grip on him, fame and money — following the immense success of MTV’s Jersey Shore — exacerbated the problem. So much so that Sorrentino says he spent a whopping $500,000 to fuel his drug habit.
“It was like gasoline on fire,” he recalls, adding that he was “constantly” self-medicating one drug after another.
“I was into everything. I had everything on me at all times in my Louis Vuitton bag. Everything — from a couple hundred Roxicet, which are 30 milligram oxycodone, then I’d have probably 150 Percocets on me, which are 10 milligram oxycodone,” he tells ET. “Then I would have about 100 Xanax on me, 100 Valium, and if I wasn’t traveling on a plane maybe I would have some weed and cocaine as well, ’cause I knew that if I traveled on a plane, not a good idea to try and go through security with cocaine and weed on you.”
For instance, while competing on season 11 of Dancing With the Stars, Sorrentino says, “I was always high.” Not just on that show but also whenever he appeared on talk shows. He says it was hard hiding his addiction from handlers and the Jersey Shore production.
“It was extremely hard. It consumed all my time, to try to get by MTV and production on how I was going to smuggle in drugs on a season,” he says. “And it obviously would vary on location as well. If it was Miami, if it was Italy.”
He’d go to extreme lengths to “smuggle” these drugs. He had to, he says, because he “misjudged” his “appetite” and “dependency” on these drugs. He says every season was different in terms of how he smuggled drugs.
That he was able to keep up with this drug addiction is, as he says, “insanity.”
“I mean, when the lawyers told me, ‘You spent about half a million on cocaine and oxycodone,’ I was like, ‘Man, that definitely sounds about right,’ because it was true,” he says. “I got to the point in my life I couldn’t hide it anymore. I got to the point where I needed to do something different, and the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Once I started to become sober, I really just turned everything over and was doing everything differently.”
Now, Sorrentino and Lauren are parents to two children, son Romeo and daughter Mia, and are expecting their third baby in March 2024.
The best part of his sobriety? “Probably every day when my family, my wife and my kids, we have a group hug,” he tells ET, “and the smiles that I see, you know, it’s just, it’s all worth it — all the pain, all the struggle, all the sacrifice — it’s all worth it.”
Sorrentino’s memoir, Reality Check: Making the Best of The Situation — How I Overcame Addiction, Loss, and Prison, is available Dec. 19.