After 16 years of sobriety, Dax Shepard opened up about his recent relapse on Friday during an episode of his podcast Armchair Expert. During the Sept. 25 episode, the 45-year-old actor bravely shared he’d been taking painkillers and relapsed after years of being sober.
“Eight years into sobriety, I had not done a single shady thing, I hadn’t done anything gray,” he recalled. But in 2012, while dealing with his late father’s terminal cancer diagnosis, he got into a motorcycle accident on his way to the Parenthood set.
“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.'”
Shepard listened to his doctor, but not long after flying back to see his dad, where he was responsible for making sure his father was given his prescribed painkillers, did there become a problem. “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’…I’m gonna take some too,” Shepard recalled, sharing that he “probably took twice” of what his other prescription was.”
Shepard said that he started panicking, wondering if he had relapsed. While visiting his dad at the hospital he called wife Kristen, who was then pregnant with their daughter Lincoln. “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.
“That was eight years ago,” Shepard said, later saying, “I’ve now had this experience where I did that, I felt bad, but there wasn’t any fallout from it. It was like, I felt bad, I said I felt bad, and then I did just move on and it was fine.”
Now eight years later, Shepard says after suffering other injuries he began to change the time he would take his pills although never self-administering the medication. “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 need them and I keep them for tomorrow morning so I can make it the dose I want to be.”
“That cycle had happened maybe three or four more times,” he recalled. “I feel shady, but I don’t feel like this is a problem.” Shepard continued to suffer more injuries and then started buying his own pills. It was after he started lying to the people closest to him that he realized he had a problem and needed to get help.
“And I’m lying to other people and I know I have to quit,” he admitted. “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, and 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. And I just have this enormous secret.”
Shepard’s co-host Monica Padman had confronted him, wondering what was going on because she felt like something was off. And after repeatedly lying, he decided to be honest. “I’m gaslighting you and I know I am,” he said, remembering his behavior. “And I’m making you feel crazy and I’m making Kristen feel crazy.“
He decided to get them both together and tell them the truth. He apologized and asked for help. “My fear was that if I have one day, I’m going to drink and I’m going to do coke,” he said. “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, then I might as well f****** have what I really want and then start over. And my fear of that is if I do that, it may take me three years to get that back in the cage and I may die.”
The podcast episode was recorded on Sept. 21, when Shepherd had been sober for seven days. “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. And on Instagram Friday, he spoke about the episode bravely admitting how difficult it was to record.
Before you go, click here to see which other stars have battled addiction.