Dax Shepard is opening up about his recent struggle with addiction. In Friday’s very personal episode of his podcast Armchair Expert, the actor shared with fans that he relapsed with pills, like Vicodin and Oxycontin, after 16 years of sobriety.
“So, today I have seven days,” Shepard revealed during the episode, appropriately titled “Day 7,” which was taped on Sept. 21.
Shepard, who shares two kids with wife Kristen Bell, began by saying he has a “tremendous amount of fear” about coming clean.
“I was being dishonest,” Shepard shared. At one point, he admitted to celebrating his 16 year sobriety birthday “high,” calling it “the worst thing in the world.”
“It would be unfair to say this all started with my recent surgeries, which is really hard to say,” Shepard stated. The Bless This Mess star first got sober in 2004 after battling an alcohol and cocaine addiction; however, he revealed for the first time that he started being “shady” with pills eight years ago.
In 2012, Shepard got into a motorcycle accident on the way to the set of Parenthood and he immediately called his sponsor. They agreed he could take “a couple Vicodin to get through the day of work” as a friend had a prescription, but then he had to go to the doctor. The doctor then gave him a prescription of the pain killer.
“So, I had a prescription for Vicodin that Kristen was administering and no problem yet,” Shepard recalled. Things escalated when he flew to visit his father who was dying.
“We had so little in common and so much f****** friction,” Shepard explained. He ended up taking Percocet with his ailing dad, explaining that what they did have in common “was we were both f****** addicts and we had never used anything together. And we sat there stoned and looked at the lake.”
Shepard confessed to Bell what he had done. The Frozen star, who was pregnant with their first child at the time, urged him to call someone from Alcoholics Anonymous. “‘I would say you’re f***** up from this accident, you got high with your dad, keep it moving,’” Shepard recalled Bell saying. He found her response “so comforting.”
“I’ve now had this experience where I did that, I felt bad, but there wasn't any fallout from it,” he explained. “Over the last eight years I don’t think there was another thing… until I got hurt again.”
About six months ago, Shepard injured his hand and was once again prescribed pain pills. He noted how it felt like he had a different relationship with pills than alcohol or cocaine because he never felt powerless.
“I feel shady, but I don’t feel like this is a problem. I don’t desire more when the thing is over,” he said of his mental state at the time.
Shepard, who frequently rides motorcycles recreationally at race tracks, said he started self medicating.
“I feel I’m entitled to take two Vicodin at the end of the day because I am in pain,” he explained. “I’m getting shadier and shadier and I’ve not ever yet bought them — and then I do.”
Shepard said for the last eight weeks or so he’s been on pills “all day.” When his prescriptions ran out he started “taking 30 mil [Oxycotin] that I've bought whenever I decide.”
Shepard did the podcast with his producer, Monica Padman, and he got emotional while talking with her.
“I start lying to you, pretty regularly and I hate it. And I’m lying to other people and I know I have to quit, but my tolerance is going up so quickly that I’m now in a situation where I’m taking eight [30 milligram pills] a day, and I know that's an amount that's going to result in a pretty bad withdrawal,” Shepard told Padman. “I start getting really scared, and I'm starting to feel really lonely. And I just have this enormous secret.”
Bell and Padman were suspicious he had a problem. Shepard, who said he tells both women “everything,” added, “I’m making you feel crazy and I’m making Kristen feel crazy.” Eventually he told them “everything,” giving them the remaining pills and said, “Please help me.”
Shepard shared that part of his fear about starting over with his sobriety stemmed from his original addiction to alcohol and cocaine.
“My fear was if I have one day [of sobriety] I’m going to drink and I’m going to do coke. I haven't drank a beer in 16 years and I haven't snorted a line in 16 years. And if I have one day, I might as well have what I really want and then start over,” Shepard explained. “I know if I do that, it may take me three years to get that back in the cage and I might die. I just know what I’m like on those two things.”
Shepard continued, “Again, it’s very hard for me to know what part of this is my addiction and what great stories I tell myself of reasons why I just can’t be f****** humble and say I’ve failed.”
The actor went to one meeting, but wasn’t fully honest. “I basically cop to getting a couple of prescriptions that Kristen didn’t know about, and again, that’s not the full story,” he recalled.
Eventually, Shepard went to a smaller meeting which helped as did close confidants.
One of the most challenging parts physically has been the terrible withdrawals. “I’ve never detoxed from opiates and I have so much compassion for these junkies who have like f****** cycled through this 20, 30 times,” Shepard said.
Shepard said when he celebrated 16 years of sobriety earlier this month, that it was “the worst hour of my life.”
“I was high at the meeting having people tell me they admire my sobriety,” he recalled. “It was the worst thing in the world.”
Bell even shared a sign that one of their daughters made in honor of the milestone.
Shepard did most of the talking during the 47-minute episode but he also gave the floor to Padman, whom he frequently apologized to, near the end. Bell did not join. Shepard didn’t talk about how his wife reacted to his relapse, but concluded by saying a “reservation” he had about publicly coming clean is how this would affect her.
“Kristen doesn’t deserve for the next six months for every f****** interview she does to be, ‘Oh, Dax relapsed,’” he explained. “It doesn’t feel fair to anyone, it’s not fair to anyone. Yeah, I’m sorry and I’m embarrassed I’ve put other people in this situation.”
Bell has not directly addressed the situation, but she reposted a message commending Shepard for his courage. She has also praised her husband on social media in recent days.