Dax Shepard Reveals He Relapsed with Painkillers After 16 Years of Sobriety
In a new episode of his Armchair Expert podcast, Dax Shepard speaks candidly about using painkillers following a motorcycle accident
"I want to say thanks to all the people that have been so unbelievably lovely to us in response to 'Day 7,'" Shepard, 45, said during Monday's episode of his Armchair Expert podcast.
The Parenthood star's co-host, Monica Padman, then chimed in to say that she hopes Shepard feels "loved and supported" and that his fears were "abated."
Shepard expressed that he's felt a sense of relief, saying, "My fears were the opposite of what the result was," before he admitted that he's "struggling with some fraudulent feelings of receiving love based on a f--- up."
"But, at any rate, I am really, really grateful, and there's so many beautiful, nice people," Shepard shared.
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images Dax Shepard
The actor went on to clarify that when he shaved his head earlier this month, he was not "high." (PEOPLE reported on Sept. 17 that Shepard gave himself a new hairdo to match his daughter's "specific haircut.")
"A lot of people said, 'I could see you were high as a kite,' " Shepard said on the podcast. "I actually was not. I was having a metamorphosis, transitional — I wanted to make a physical statement that I was shedding something."
Nathan Congleton/NBC/Getty Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard
Shepard revealed he had relapsed on the Sept. 25 episode of Armchair Expert, titled "Day 7," explaining that he used painkillers following a motorcycle accident. The episode was recorded on Sept. 21 when Shepard was seven days sober.
“So eight years into sobriety, I have not done a single shady thing. There was nothing gray,” he began on the episode. But in 2012, while he was also dealing with his late father’s cancer diagnosis, he got into a motorcycle accident on the way to work.
“I immediately called my sponsor and I said, ‘I’m in a ton of pain and I got to work all day, and we have friends that have Vicodin.’ And he said, ‘Okay, you can take a couple Vicodin to get through the day at work but you have to go to the doctor, and you have to get a prescription and you have to have Kristen [Bell] dole out the prescription,’” he recalled.
While there was initially "no problem" with this arrangement, Shepard found himself in trouble during a later trip to visit his father when he 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,” Shepard recounted, noting that he “probably took twice of what my other prescription was.”
The next day, Shepard explained that he confessed to taking the pills to wife Bell, 40, who was pregnant with their daughter Lincoln, 7, at the time. (He and Bell are also parents to daughter Delta, 5.)
“She’s like, ‘You clearly need to call someone in AA, but I would say you’re f— up from this accident, you got high with your dad, keep it moving. You don’t need to redefine it. You didn’t lose eight years, which was so comforting,” he said on the Sept. 25 podcast episode.
“Then I get hurt again,” Shepard continued, noting that he began altering when he would take the pills. “Maybe I don’t want to take them at night because I can’t sleep when I take them, so when I get my two at night I don’t actually eat them and I keep them for tomorrow morning so I can make it the dose I want to be.”
Kristen Bell/Instagram Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell
He explained that his behavior continued and got worse with each of his injuries. Earlier this year, after breaking his hand in an ATV accident and also suffering multiple injuries during another motorcycle accident, the actor said he began purchasing his own pills. He then began lying to the people around him, which he said helped him realize he needed to quit.
While driving with his podcast co-host one day, Shepard admitted that he had something to share. He told everything to her and Bell, handing off his remaining pills.
As the candid conversation continued on the podcast, Shepard admitted that in addition to his own ego, one of the things that made telling the truth so difficult was the public narrative surrounding his sobriety. Shepard described the experience of celebrating his 16th year of sobriety earlier this month while high as being “the worst hour of my life.”
However, 24 hours after being off of 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.
Shepard shared that he's still "very proud" of his 16 years of sobriety from alcohol and cocaine, but admitted that 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.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please contact the SAMHSA substance abuse helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.