Actor/comedian Dax Shepard has always been open about his past struggles with addiction and how he has been sober for the past 16 years. However, it was still surprising when, on the September 25th episode of his podcast Armchair Expert, Shepard revealed that he relapsed and has again been taking opioids.
About 6 months ago, Shepard broke his right hand, which required the temporary placement of a pin. Then in August, the avid motorcycle rider went over the handlebars of a bike during a race, breaking four ribs and shattering his shoulder. He again underwent surgery. Although he was prescribed hydrocodone/acetaminophen (Vicodin) for the pain, monitored by his wife, actress Kristen Bell, Dax began to “supplement” these pills with others that he purchased on his own.
As he told his podcast co-host, Monica Padman: “For the last 8 weeks maybe, I don’t really know … I’m on them all day … And I’m allowed to be on them at some dosage, because I have a prescription, and then I’m also augmenting that. And then all the prescriptions run out, and I’m now just taking 30 mil oxys that I’ve bought whenever I decide I can do [it].”
As he was still able to fulfill his daily responsibilities, including his twice-weekly podcast, he thought everything was under control. But then he started lying: “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, 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.”
Monica eventually called him out, and he came clean to her and Kristen. He immediately gave his pills to his wife and Monica to titrate down, began to go to AA meetings, and underwent withdrawal symptoms: “I’m sweating bullets; I’m jerky; my back kills. It’s terrible.”
Shepard went on to apologize to his friends, family, and his fans for deceiving them. He felt it was his responsibility to come forward and be honest about his struggles in the hope that others can also come forward and get the help they need.
Prescription opioids can be used to treat moderate-to-severe pain and are often prescribed following surgery or injury, or for health conditions such as cancer.
In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in the acceptance and use of prescription opioids for the treatment of chronic, non-cancer pain, such as back pain or osteoarthritis, despite serious risks and the lack of evidence about their long-term effectiveness.
According to the CDC:
- More than 168 million opioid prescriptions were dispensed to American patients in 2018
- There is a wide variation of opioid prescription rates across states; healthcare providers in the highest prescribing state, Alabama, wrote almost three times as many of these