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Dax Shepard’s Addiction and Relapse after 16 years

In September 2020, Dax Shepard announced he had relapsed on Vicodin and oxycontin after 16 years of sobriety. 

Dax Shepard’s First Addiction: 

The American actor, comedian, and podcast host once struggled with alcohol and cocaine, which he started using in High School. According to Shepard, every weekend, his drinking and drug use landed him in “increasingly dangerous situations … Of course, come Monday, I would be tallying up all the different situations, and each one was progressively more dangerous. I got lucky in that I didn’t go to jail.” 

Dax Shepard Sobriety: Talking About Addiction to Combat Shame:

In 2004, Shepard entered a rehab program and began attending regular narcotics anonymous meetings. Unlike other Hollywood stars, Shepard has not shied away from discussing his past addiction both in interviews and on his podcast “Armchair Experts.” Dax believes that to advance the conversation around addiction, sobriety, shame, and stigma, people need to talk about it openly. Particularly people in the spotlight. “I could advance this whole thing, but [if] I don’t want to tell people that I’ve done cocaine [then] now I can’t advance it because of that.” One of the strongest weapons addiction wields is to make you feel like you are struggling with it all by yourself and that you can’t tell anyone. When, really, the people who love you are the best tools you have for beating substance abuse. 

What Caused Shepard’s Relapse:

Unfortunately, Dax forgot this lesson nearly 16 years into his sobriety. His relapse began shortly after an ATV accident that crushed all the bones in his hand and landed him in the hospital, where a doctor prescribed Vicodin. At first, he was careful. His wife, Kristen Bell, was in charge of administering him the medicine. But soon, the rationalizing began. The pills made it harder to sleep, so he would save his night dose for the morning after and take two pills.

Relapsing on Oxy and Vicodin: How Addiction Makes You Feel Scared and Alone

After he ran out of Vicodin, he bought a different opioid, Oxycontin, and took them without telling his wife or coworkers. According to Shepard, the worst part of his relapse was lying to the people around him. “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, you know, eight 30s a day. I know that’s an amount that’s going to result in a pretty bad withdrawal. And I start getting really scared, and I’m starting to feel really lonely. [Because] I just have this enormous secret.”

Dax said the one positive thing was that even during his relapse, he never had the urge or ideation to touch alcohol or cocaine again. He said that would have meant he was definitely out of control. 

Getting Clean By Coming Clean:

On Friday, September 25, 2020, Shepard recorded an episode of his podcast he “hoped he’d never have to record,” detailing how for the last 8 weeks, he’d been on opioids all day, every day. In the episode he titled “Day 7” Shepard apologized for lying to his coworkers and announced that today was Day 7. He also encouraged his fans to speak up about their struggles with addiction. Shepard’s coworkers were nothing other than supportive, his wife attended an anonymous narcotics meeting with him that weekend. He said it was “the most incredible 90 minutes I’ve ever experienced, where there was just so much love and there was so much understanding and kindness in unconditional love.”

What Can We Learn By Following Dax’s Example: 

After he got clean, Dax said a trusted friend of his confronted him about his addiction, telling him that his only mistake was being arrogant enough to think he could take on addiction by himself. That he could take more pills, not tell anyone, and be fine. 

It’s true. When it comes to addiction it’s the people who love us that save us from ourselves. As many as 1 in 5 people struggle with Substance Abuse Disorder, if you’re one of them you’re not alone. So if you or someone you love is struggling with substances, don’t wait to reach out. We can help. Call 855-202-2138.

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