'RHONY' Star Luann de Lesseps Says Her Arrest Cost Her Friends — and Boyfriends

The Real Housewives of New York City star opens up to PEOPLE about how her December 2017 arrest changed her life in this week's issue

Luann de Lesseps found out who’d be there for her through thick and thin following her 2017 arrest for disorderly intoxication.

“You lose a lot of friends when you go to jail,” the Real Housewives of New York City star tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue, adding that the effects extended into her romantic life. “I think guys become less interested when you go to jail and rehab. I haven’t even thought about a guy.”

The experience also affected her friendships.

“I just have to avoid certain people,” she explains. “I lost a lot of drinking buddies. Let’s put it that way. But you know what, that’s okay. I have room for the good ones.”

On Dec. 23, de Lesseps, 52, was arrested while spending the holidays in Palm Beach, Florida. It was a somewhat dubious choice given that one year earlier, de Lesseps was there celebrating her wedding to Tom D’Agostino Jr. — whom she divorced seventh months later when she realized he wouldn’t give up his “bachelor lifestyle.”

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While recalling the night of the incident, she says that after an afternoon of drinking with a girlfriend, she went back to the Colony Hotel where she was staying and met up with an ex-boyfriend. She became disoriented as they tried to find her room and ended up in the wrong one.

After the hotel called the police, de Lesseps clashed with officers who arrived on the scene and was charged with disorderly intoxication, battery on an officer, resisting arrest with violence and threatening a public servant.

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De Lesseps knew she needed to make a drastic change after her arrest. She entered a treatment facility and began focusing on her personal well-being.

  • For more on Luann, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on stands Friday

She also knew that she would have to have the uncomfortable conversation of explaining what happened that night to her daughter Victoria and son Noel, whom she shares with her first husband Count Alexandre de Lesseps.

“I told my children I did something that I am not proud of, and I asked them to forgive me,” she says. “They were like, ‘We don’t care about that. We don’t care about what people think. We know who you are, and we love you and we’re here.’ They were great.”

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Along with her kids, de Lesseps said she could count on her fellow Housewives to be there for her regardless of the drama that always stirs up on screen.

“The Housewives can be really bitchy sometimes, but when push comes to shove and you’re down and you need to be picked up, the ladies were right there for me,” she says.

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Despite what the arrest cost her, de Lesseps has found a silver lining and hasn’t resumed drinking.

“Unless I was humiliated publicly, I don’t think I would have done anything,” she says. “This was a warning. It was meant to happen so that I could take a step back and look at myself in a different way. I’m grateful to the universe for making me change my life.”

The Real Housewives of New York City airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on Bravo.

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