The actor Dax Shepard was sober for 16 years before relapsing in 2020. Relapse in celebrities often becomes fodder for jokes, which adds to stigma, but Shepard addressed his relapse candidly and directly.
He and his wife, the actress Kristen Bell, were also candid with their daughters. They told them in an age-appropriate way that their dad had relapsed, just as they had always explained that dad goes to AA.
Shepard has a history of drinking and using, as he puts it: “cocaine, opiates, marijuana, diet pills, pain pills, everything.” After a motorcycle accident last year where he needed pills, Shepard began misusing the medication.
He soon started 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,” he said, “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.”
Eventually, he was buying them illegally and lying to his family. That was when he knew he had to come clean. He said he had “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.”
Still, Shepard says he is proud of his 16 years sober. Only seven days clean after his relapse, he was already feeling optimistic. “I now feel again like my life’s going to get better,” he said. “I’m going to feel less sick from it, I’m going to be less sweaty every night.” Then at six months after his relapse, he said, “This has been like a second chance to confront all those things that have been building up. And today I feel better with six months than I had felt at 15 years.”