In the September 25 episode of Dax Shepard’s “Armchair Expert” podcast, the actor revealed he had relapsed on Vicodin after 16 years of continuous sobriety; he was recently prescribed this drug to treat pain from an injury.
By the time Shepard disclosed his relapse, he had close to two weeks of sobriety.
Shepard’s story is not uncommon. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in 2016 that 39.5 million Americans visited physicians for unintentional injuries. That same year, 29.4 million Americans visited emergency rooms for unintentional injuries. Shepard’s own injury, which he sustained while riding his motorcycle, was unintentional.
The CDC also reported that in 2017 191 million opioid prescriptions were dispensed, and that in 2016, “more than 11.5 million Americans reported misusing prescription opioids in the past year.”
In a recent episode of “Ellen,” Shepard’s wife actress Kristen Bell said that Shepard is doing well, but that the couple “need[s] a stronger plan” when it comes to administering medication for his injury.
In 12-step literature, alcohol (and drugs) are referred to as “cunning, baffling, powerful.” In the case of the Shepard family, we see just how baffling addiction can be. Despite Shepard’s 16 years of sobriety–and the fact that they had a plan for only Bell to give Shepard his medications–he still relapsed.
Despite the fact that Shepard and Bell’s initial plan didn’t work, both did the right thing: Shepard for coming clean and restarting his sobriety, and Bell for being supportive despite the relapse, and agreeing to make changes to help prevent another one.
Although it’s easier said than done, people in recovery should not be ashamed of their relapse, nor should society shame those in active addiction. By diminishing shame, we open the door for the 20 million Americans who have substance use disorders to seek the help they need to recover. Yes, falling off the beam is harmful and should be avoided at all costs. But keeping relapses secret can easily make them become full-on use and can lead to death.
In 2018, 67,367 Americans who died from a drug overdose were not given another chance to recover. By working to end the stigma, many more people will feel free to find the help they need.
If you or a loved one are living with a substance use disorder, there is hope. At TruHealing Centers around the country, we offer the full continuum of addiction-related care, from medical detox to long-term outpatient aftercare. To learn which level of care is the right fit for you, speak with an Admissions Specialist today at 410-593-0005.
People can, and do recover. Let us help