Actor and comedian Dax Shepard recently revealed that he is newly sober following a recent relapse after 16 years of sobriety.
In the latest episode of his Armchair Expert podcast, the “Parenthood” actor opened up in a candid conversation about his battles with opioid addiction, which started in 2012.
“An episode I hoped I’d never have to record, but one I felt I owed to all the beautiful Armcheries who have been on this ride with me for the last couple years,” Shepard said in an Instagram post announcing the episode. “This was Monday, say today is 11,” Shepard added.
In the episode, Shepard, who has struggled with addiction to pain medication, alcohol and cocaine in the past, detailed his difficult journey. Including most recently dealing with an addiction to Vicodin, the opioid painkiller.
When it started
In 2012, Shepard says he was prescribed Vicodin after a motorcycle accident on his way to the set of “Parenthood.” His wife, Kristen Bell, was the only one who was allowed to administer the drugs.
Although Shepard said that there was initially “no problem” with this arrangement. During a subsequent trip to visit with his father, who was diagnosed with cancer, Shepard was given the responsibility of making sure his dad took his own prescribed painkillers.
“So I give him a bunch of Percocet and then I go, I have a prescription for this. And I was in a motorcycle accident, and I’m gonna take some too.” The “Bless This Mess” actor recounted probably taking “twice of what my other prescription was.” He then recalled him and his dad getting high together.
“I feel shady, but I didn’t feel like this was a problem”
After dropping his father back at the hospital, Shepard said that he “started panicking a bit,” wondering if that counted as a relapse. The following day, Bell, who was pregnant at the time with their daughter Lincoln, ended up surprising her husband by traveling to be with him. That’s when Shepard confessed to taking the pills.
“That was eight years ago,” Shepard continued, adding, “I’ve now had this experience where I did that, I felt bad, but there wasn’t any fallout from it.”
“Then I get hurt again,” Shepard continued, noting that while he was never self-administering his prescribed medication, he began altering when he would take the pills. “I can’t sleep when I take them. So when I get my two at night I don’t actually eat them. I keep them for tomorrow morning so I can make it the dose I want to be.”
“I feel shady, but I don’t feel like this is a problem,” he added. Noting that his behavior continued to escalate with each of his injuries.
“I was just very scared and I felt very, very lonely”
But it was his motorcycle accident in August that led to his full relapse, saying that he began getting “shadier and shadier,” purchasing his own pills.
“For the last eight weeks maybe, I don’t know…I’m on them all day. I’m allowed to be on them at some dosage because I have a prescription. And then all the prescriptions run out and I’m now just taking 30 mil Oxys that I’ve bought whenever I decide I can do [it].”
Shepard said he felt like he was “managing” his addiction well until podcast co-host, Monica Padman, called him out on his altered behavior. “I start lying to you pretty regularly, and I hate it. And I am lying to other people. And I know I have to quit.” But he wasn’t able to follow through and started panicking.
Shepard explained he had felt deep guilt about hiding his “enormous secret” from wife Kristen Bell and friends, such as Padman. “I felt so terrible about the lying,” Shepard said. “I was just very scared and I felt very, very lonely.”
“The worst hour of my life”
The actor then said that he finally came clean to his wife and Padman, and asked them for help. He also said the fact that his sobriety was a public celebration, made it that much harder to admit his stumble.
On Sept. 1, Shepard and his family celebrated 16 years of his sobriety. The actor described the experience of celebrating 16 years sober while being high as “the worst hour of my life.” Dax said being congratulated at a meeting while using pain pills felt awful.
However, 24 hours after being off opiates, the actor honestly opened up about his story in a meeting. “For the first time in a very long time, [I] felt optimistic,” he said.
Although the actor admits that he’s still “very proud” of his 16 years of sobriety from alcohol and cocaine, he has “not been sober in the way I would like to be sober. Where you don’t have secrets and you’re not afraid to tell people about the grey area you’re going through.” Shepard’s admission on the podcast was met with hundreds of supportive comments across social media, praising him for his honesty.
“I now feel again like my life’s going to get better”
Another reservation Shepard initially had about “coming clean publicly” was the impact it would have on his wife.
“Kristen doesn’t deserve for the next six months for every f— interview she does to be, ‘Oh, Dax relapsed,'” he continued. “It doesn’t feel fair to anyone. I’m sorry and embarrassed that I’ve put other people in this situation.”
The podcast episode was recorded on Sept. 21, when Shepherd was seven days sober. Despite his fears, Shepard said he ultimately chose to discuss his relapse publicly. In hopes, that sharing his entire truth might help others who are struggling.
“I now feel again like my life’s going to get better. I’m going to feel less sick from it, I’m going to be less sweaty every night,” he said. Shepard also added that he felt “really grateful” to have Bell and Padman still in his life. “You guys were understanding and didn’t feel as betrayed as you should.”