Recently celebrating his 10-year sober anniversary, Zac Clark and his family are set to be honored with the Richard J. Caron Award of Excellence for their significant impact on families affected by substance use disorders — and the Bachelorette alum can’t stress enough how important loved ones are to recovery.
“My parents have been married for 40 years, they are the best. They’re my heroes. My dad is a total legend, and my mom is the most selfless person I’ve ever met,” the 37-year-old reality TV personality told Us Weekly ahead of the organization’s 27th Annual New York Gala at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York on Thursday, September 9. “I’m one of five siblings, so I have a half-brother, Rob, who’s older and then it’s me, Kathryn, Matt and Rachel, and each of them have taken on a different kind of responsibility in supporting me throughout the last 10 years. … Addiction, recovery and mental illness and a lot of the things that were finally shining a light on in this country, it’s oftentimes lost that the family plays such a critical role. So for me to be going through this really challenging time in my life and trying to get sober and knowing that I had their love there for me was huge.”
Clark, who works as an addiction specialist, continued, “And when I talk to families today being on the other side, I try to communicate to them that even if you don’t think your loved one hears you, just keep telling them you love them, keep telling them you’re there for them because ultimately, like, deep down inside in their spirit, they hear it and know that to be true.”
The New Jersey native, who got engaged to Tayshia Adams during the December 2020 finale of The Bachelorette, acknowledged his fiancée’s role too.
“I’m super grateful for all of them. And they’re married and people have married into this thing, so I’m grateful for them. And then obviously Tayshia, my fiancée, grateful for her,” he told Us. “It takes a village to kind of, you know, get to where I am. And a lot of people I have to thank for that.”
Clark told Us that Adams, 31, has “been a champion” of his work and journey.
“I think she recognizes that my recovery is what allows me to be with her, and that’s very clear to her. So she’s grateful for this,” he explained. “Over the past year, we’ve definitely had time to talk about it and to have her understand what it means to me. And I think, in turn, she’s really gained a better understanding of the why of it all. And I don’t think there’s anyone in my life, Tayshia included, that would tell you that a drunk Zac is better than a sober Zac, that’s for sure.”
Clark celebrated 10 years of sobriety on August 30, marking the occasion with throwback photos of his younger self, who struggled with alcohol and substance abuse. When asked what he would tell his 20-something-year-old self, Clark joked, “You have no idea what is about to happen.”
He added, “It’s crazy to think about. It’s no secret, like, I love to party. It took what it took. I mean, I say it all the time, but kind of, like, this whole idea of, ‘Keep going and you’re worth it and change is possible.’ They’re all very, like, almost cliché things to say, but they’re true.”
Fans can tune into Clark’s testimonial at the Caron gala tomorrow via livestream.
“The gala is honoring my family, but more importantly, it’s bringing awareness to the opioid epidemic and the drug problem we have here in our country. I mean last year, 93,000 people died, which is a real number, from overdose. That’s not fabricated, that’s real lives that were lost. In the last week alone I’ve had two or three phone calls of people that I know who have passed from this thing,” he told Us. “My biggest thing with this gala and really my everyday life is just to shine that light on this issue and hope to bring some awareness to people who maybe haven’t been affected or haven’t taken it seriously.”