TV viewers fell in love with Meredith Phillips — watching as she got sent home by Bob Guiney in the fourth season of The Bachelor before becoming the second Bachelorette and choosing Ian McKee — but what they didn't necessarily see was Meredith's carefully-concealed alcoholism.

"I was drunk every night," she says of her time on the show, reminiscing in an exclusive interview with People. "But I knew my tolerance levels. Alcoholics are good at that. I figured out how much I could drink and function."

Meredith is only able to talk of her addiction with such clarity and forthrightness because she's about six months sober. And she's able to pinpoint when the disastrous habit began.

Her parents gave her her first sips of wine and drank more and more in high school and college. "I prided myself in drinking 12 beer bongs by 12 p.m.," she admits, "even if I woke up at 10 a.m."

After graduating from college and modelling for a bit, Meredith searched for love on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. She and Ian split within a year of living together, and the breakup brought out the old demons. Her father's death and a breakup with her next boyfriend only exacerbated her addiction.

A marriage in 2011 to high-school sweetheart Michael Broady gave Meredith a glimpse of happiness, but her mother's hospitalization for cancer six months later sent her to rock bottom.

Finally, her brother Matt insisted that Meredith go to rehab, and she relented. "I was tired of all of it," she recounts. "I had lost so many people in my life already, and I just knew it would end badly. I didn't want to feel that way anymore."

She separated with Michael during her two-month stay in a California treatment center, but moved back to Oregon recently with the hopes of reuniting with her husband.

"I want things to work," she professes. "I still have a lot of healing to do, but I'm feeling better every day … It's not fun to start over again at 39, but life is short. And I have a second chance."

Source: People [web and print editions]

Credit: E! News Photo: Meredith Phillips Details Her Alcoholism (VIDEO)