Victor Malafronte/Getty Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown
Bobby Brown would have done a lot of things differently if he could have.
The star, 53, who's opening up about a lifetime of ups and downs in the new A&E documentary Biography: Bobby Brown, premiering May 30, says one regret revolves around his split from ex-wife Whitney Houston.
In the early '90s, pop golden girl Houston and R&B bad boy Brown were widely thought to be an ill-matched pair. He was often portrayed as a corruptor of Houston's pristine image.
Both Houston and Brown battled crippling addiction throughout their 14-year marriage that officially ended in 2007. And in the years since Houston's tragic death in 2012, many close to the couple have revealed that it was she who'd influenced Brown in the use of hard drugs.
Brown tells PEOPLE exclusively in this week's issue that a few years prior to their split, he'd gotten clean from hard drugs.
"It was really rough because I was so addicted. I had to be put into medical detox first," he says of kicking narcotics while he was incarcerated in 2000. "And then the Bible got me through. It was about becoming healthier for my daughter [Bobbi Kristina] and for the rest of my kids."
Nolwen Cifuentes Bobby Brown
Brown shares in the documentary that Houston did not quit drugs when he did, which became a point of contention in their marriage. Still, he did not wish to divorce. He claims Houston's decision to end their marriage was fueled by her family and team. In hindsight, he thinks it was a decision that negatively impacted Houston's life.
"I think we could have helped each other out," he states at one point in the documentary. "I think she'd still be here if we hadn't divorced."
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When 48-year-old Houston was found unresponsive in a Beverly Hills hotel bathtub on Feb. 11, 2012, having drowned with a mix of drugs in her system, the horrible news came as a surprise to Brown.
"I thought she was getting herself together," he tells PEOPLE, "I didn't think she would turn back."
Despite quitting hard drugs, Brown continued to struggle with alcohol addiction throughout the years and last spent time at a treatment facility for alcohol abuse in 2020.
These days, he says, "I work hard at staying sober every day of my life and it's going to be that way for the rest of my life and I know that."
For more on Bobby Brown's life and how he's found new purpose after losing two children, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere Friday.