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Dax Shepard opens up on his podcast about addiction and a recent relapse

Dax Shepard
Actor Dax Shepard discussed his struggles with addiction on the latest episode of his podcast.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Actor Dax Shepard got real about his battle with substance abuse on the latest episode of his podcast.

On Friday’s installment of “Armchair Expert,” titled “Day 7,” Shepard revealed that he had started taking opioids again after recently celebrating 16 years of sobriety. In the past, the “Bless This Mess” actor has struggled with addiction to pain medication, alcohol and cocaine.

“I have a tremendous amount of fear about doing this,” he told his cohost, Monica Padman, at the top of the show. “One of [my fears] is, people will maybe bombard me with things I did wrong or judgments of what I should or shouldn’t have done. And maybe some people will feel a sense of betrayal, because we preach honesty and I was being dishonest. ...

“A lot of people have been inspired to try sobriety based on how open we are about it. And I had a huge fear that those people would feel maybe misled. And another part of it is ego — that, ‘I have 16 years. I have 16 years. I have 16 years.’ And that is something people might aspire to have.”

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Dax Shepard, a tired dad who hates waking up in the middle of the night to pee, was floating an idea.

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. The actor has been taking painkillers while recovering from an August motorcycle accident but said his pill addiction started spiraling out of control around the time his father died in 2012.

“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 [oxycodone hydrochloride pills] a day, and I know that’s an amount that’s going to result in a pretty bad withdrawal,” he said of his recent relapse. “And I start getting really scared, and I’m starting to feel really lonely, and I just have this enormous secret.”

Eventually, Shepard made the difficult decision earlier this month to come clean to his wife, actress Kristen Bell, and Padman, who praised him for his bravery on the show.

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“I still feel very proud that I haven’t drank or done cocaine in 16 years,” he said. “And also, I have 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 gray area you’re going through. And that’s my failing. ... I was not trusting enough of the people who love me to let them in on the struggle.”

After opening up to his loved ones and his Alcoholics Anonymous support group, Shepard admitted, “The outcome wasn’t anything like I feared it would be.”

“There was so much understanding and kindness and unconditional love,” he said. “It’s the only experience I can remember having that was just grace — the definition of grace — and it was very emotional. It was a really, really surreal experience. And when it was over, I actually, mentally — for the first time in a very long time — felt optimistic.”

You can listen to all of “Day 7" and other “Armchair Expert” episodes here.


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