The 26-year-old model, who is currently taking part in Australian reality TV contest Celebrity Apprentice, explained that modelling helped him turn his life around after he left his LA home at the age of 17.
Cohen told the Herald Sun that his life became a blur of partying, alcohol and couch-hopping when he worked in the music industry, saying: "I witnessed people overdosing, witnessed people about to die on drugs - it was brutal.
"The whole industry declined, I was back onto the street again and then I was discovered off the street for modelling in Australia. I say every day, Australia saved my life. I'm so clean-living now."
Cohen, who has been romantically linked to Lara Bingle in the past, said that he hoped to raise lots of money for charity Youth off the Streets by appearing on Celebrity Apprentice.
He added: "A rich guy giving my charity money is not going to change the fact they are a troubled teen [but if you have me fighting for you, [you know] that I was one of you, I was a hooligan, I was a mess-up in school, insecure, all those things that teenagers go through.
"I was one of them and turned my life around in an instant. I became really close to my family again. And I talk to my parents, like, three times a day. I feel so lucky."
This year's Celebrity Apprentice features stars such as celebrity publicist Max Markson, The Block winner Polly Porter, Miss Universe Australia Jesinta Campbell and dancer Jason Coleman. Filming started last month.