Barton accepts alcohol influenced his previous bad behaviour.
Speaking at a charity day organised by Sporting Chance which helps sportsmen suffering from addiction, Barton said: "When you've been in as much s**t as I've been in, you've got to grow up.
"You can say, 'Do I really deserve this?' but you do. We live life in the limelight and there's nothing I can do about what's happened now.
"It can be frustrating when my name is brought up whenever another footballer gets into trouble. But it's probably good for me because it serves as a fresh reminder that you've got to keep working at it and doing the right things.
"You want to make up for the time you've missed being stupid. It will probably haunt me until I die, thinking where I could have gone and that I could have achieved more. The things I've done will be with me for ever. Many people like those at Sporting Chance have helped me and it's been wonderful.
"But, ultimately, it was me who decided, 'I need to change this'. I don't stay in all the time but I'm not p***** in town at 3, 4 or 5 in the morning. A lot of the time you find fights is when you are out of your brain on drink in a stupid nightclub in town. Someone said to me, 'If you keep going to the barbers eventually you'll get a haircut' - so I've tried to stop going to the barbers.
"I knew I had to stop and it's no coincidence I've not been in any trouble since. I'm fortunate now that at Newcastle there's a few of us that don't drink.
"When we won the league at Plymouth last season the players were all sitting in the bar after the game, the chairman was buying and the pints were flowing.
"But there was me and Al sitting with a pot of tea. At Newcastle, we've brought in the teapot and we have meetings round it if there's anything untoward going on or we've had a bad result."