Eric Nies didn't just star on a reality television series—he starred on the first-ever iteration of MTV's The Real World, a show so influential that it'd go on to shape the genre as we know it today.
The experience would be monumental for anyone, but as Eric reveals in this sneak peek of E!'s For Real: The Story of Reality TV, it probably saved his life.
"If The Real World didn't happen and my life didn't go the way that it did, I might've been dead," the 49-year-old reality TV vet tells host Andy Cohen in the above clip, sitting alongside his former castmates Julie Gentry, Norman Korpi and Heather B. Gardner for their first reunion in 20 years.
"There were a lot of wounds that I was suppressing from my childhood and I was on a self-destructive path," Eric adds. "And I started using drugs at a young age."
But once the show aired, everything changed. "I was able to look at myself and see the things I didn't like about myself that I wanted to change," he explains on For Real. "So yeah, in a way, The Real World kind of saved my life."
After a question from Heather, Eric clarifies that he wasn't using drugs while in The Real World house. In fact, he was on probation, which required regular drug testing.
"I went through physical abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse," he adds. "And that's the reason why I started exploring all these different avenues to heal myself."
One avenue was ayahuasca, which allows you to "actually go into your subconscious mind and access the files of your soul's existence and many, many lifetimes," Eric explains.
Would Heather or Julie be interested in the experience? Hear their answers in the above clip.
See more of the epic Real World reunion when E! airs a special preview episode of For Real: The Story of Reality TV this Wednesday, Feb. 24 at 10 p.m. before the series' official premiere on Thursday, Mar. 25!