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On Tuesday’s Ellen DeGeneres Show, the talk show host brought up the actor, podcaster and Top Gear America host’s slip up last year after 16 years of sobriety, which saw him sneaking pain pills like Vicodin and Oxycontin, and said it was brave of him to go public, as he could have tried to deal with it in private.
“I did not want to at all,” Shepard admitted. “I had all kinds of bizarre fears — like I have sponsors on my [Armchair Expert podcast]. Is that something that could cost me money financially?”
He continued, “But the number one thing I was afraid to lose was I get so much esteem out of being someone who is vocally sober. I have people who write me, ‘I’m month one’ or ‘I’m week two’ and I love that. That’s my favorite thing about being in public. So I was terrified I would lose that. I really cherish that.”
Then a friend said something that really resonated.
“I have a good friend that said, ‘If your real goal is to help people, it’s not very helpful that you’re 16 years sober and married to Kristen Bell,’” Shepard recalled with a laugh. “‘That doesn’t help a ton of people. In fact, it probably makes their life worse. The fact that you just fell, that’s the actual value.”
He said when it was framed that way, “it got a lot easier.”
Shepard then joked, “If you can end the quarantine alive and married, my hats off to everyone.”
In a recent interview with People, Bell, who married Shepard in 2013, said the couple sought therapy together at the start of the pandemic last March.
Amid a difficult year, "everyone's proclivities are kind of bubbling over because we're all caged in with each other,” she said. “Dax and I, when we started this pandemic, were at a point in our marriage where we definitely needed a little therapy brush-up."
It was actually around that time that Shepard’s relapse began. The star, who frequently rides motorcycles recreationally at race tracks, had been taking prescribed doses of pain pills stemming from various injuries. However, he started sneaking Vicodin and Oxycontin and it snowballed to where he was on pills “all day” and “taking 30 mil [Oxycotin] that I've bought whenever I decide.”
He came clean to his Armchair Expert audience in an episode taped Sept. 21 called “Day 7.” In it, he also admitted he had also started acting “shady” with his sobriety before his dad died in 2012. He had first gotten sober in 2004 after cocaine and alcohol abuse.
Bell, who shares two children with Shepard, vowed to “continue to stand by him because he’s very, very worth it.” And in a tribute post for his 46th birthday on Jan. 2, Bell said her husband’s “commitment to growth is astounding.”
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