Parker McCollum is a country star in the making, and while his popularity continues to grow, it could have all come crashing down had he not made a significant lifestyle change.

Citing his desire to write songs that matter, McCollum tells Sounds Like Nashville that he turned to illicit substances for help.

"For a long time, I thought I had to do those things, too, to get those songs out,” he admits. "Which, I got a lot of good songs out of it."

He shares some of his struggles on his debut album, Gold Chain Cowboy.

"There’s a picture frame hanging a little to the side / Some drugs on the counter in the kitchen by the wine / And I’m shaking like winter, but I just can’t eat," McCollum sings on "Rest of My Life," which he says is the best song on the album.

He wrote the song in seven minutes, and he did it sober. This was a turning point for the rising star, because he realized he didn't need to use drugs to produce the songs he wants to be known for.

"That was kind of my wakeup call," McCollum reveals. "It's probably the second time ever that I’ve written something and gone, 'Man, that is really good.' Most of the time, I think everything sucks. I don’t know that I would call it a life-saving moment, but it was really good for me to write something like that not under the influence of anything."

Authenticity was important for McCollum when it came to his first album — he didn't want to be another artist writing songs about trucks and dirt roads.

"I really, really care about songwriting,” McCollum says. "I always want people to know when they listen to my music; whether they like it or not, they can’t say it’s fake. It’s all incredibly honest and really real and comes from a super real place. They come from the right place where all the best songs come from."

His debut project was a huge success, producing a No. 1 hit, "Pretty Heart," and another, "To Be Loved by You," which is steadily climbing the country charts. McCollum continues to chase his goal of making real music and dreams of being inducted into both the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame one day.

Something else pushing McCollum to healthier living? His fiancee, Hallie Ray Light, whom he proposed to last summer.

"It's much easier to make good decisions and live the right way when I have her in mind,” he shares. “Ever since we got together, my career has taken off tenfold. It’s because I’m focused, healthy and working my butt off. All those things are paying off.”

Currently, the "Pretty Heart" singer is stacked with shows throughout February and through April, including making his debut at RodeoHouston in his home state of Texas.

McCollum will also join Thomas Rhett on the Bring the Bar to You Tour this summer, alongside Conner Smith.

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