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How Dax Shephard Discussed Relapse with His Kids

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Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

December 7, 2023

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Dax Shepard, renowned for his unfiltered honesty, recently bared his soul about his tumultuous journey through relapse, recovery, and the profound impact of addiction on his family. Read on to discover how Dax Shepard discussed his relapse with his children, and discover lessons that can be applied beyond Dax Shepherd’s personal experience with substance abuse.

Unveiling His Relapse in Public

Dax Shepard chose a path of transparency by publicly addressing his relapse on the September 25 episode of his widely acclaimed podcast, Armchair Expert, aptly titled Day 7. This revelation came on the heels of eight years of unwavering sobriety, a journey that was disrupted by a motorcycle accident in 2012 which left Shepard coping with debilitating chronic pain. Seeking guidance, he turned to his sobriety sponsor, who suggested the use of opioid painkillers under stringent conditions.

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Like so many people prescribed opioid painkillers, Shepherd found the path was far from straightforward, though. Shepard, previously tasked with administering painkillers to his ailing father, found himself abusing his own prescription. This marked a crossroads where Shepard realized the gravity of the situation, and came to terms with the need for external assistance in working his way through the challenges of addiction.

Even with unwavering comfort from his life partner, Kristen Bell, pregnant with their first daughter at the time, Shepard faced further challenges in early 2020. These complications included a broken hand and yet another motorcycle accident, one that required intense shoulder surgery. The couple’s endearing candor about these adversities shows the pivotal role that family support plays in the face of a progressive and relapsing condition like addiction.

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How Dax Discussed Relapse with His Kids

Dax Shepard’s courageous unveiling of his relapse after an impressive spell of sobriety in late 2020 drew attention to the significance of honesty within the family unit and how to have frank and open discussions with loved ones about addiction, relapse, and treatment.

During a revealing interview on Chelsea Clinton’s In Fact podcast, Shepard laid bare the intricacies of how he and Kristen Bell navigated the delicate process of addressing the issue of his relapse with their two impressionable daughters.

Shepard first provided a contextual backdrop to his relapse, underscoring how injuries and surgeries stemming from motorcycle accidents served as triggers for opioid use. This was not an exercise in denial – instead, Dax led by example, acknowledging his actions and the reverberating impact of those actions on his loved ones. Rather than making excuses, then, Shephard instead gave an open and inclusive account of how he went from using opioids as intended to abusing the medication and then developing opioid use disorder, a relapsing brain disorder.

Choosing transparency, Shepard and Bell crafted a narrative of honesty for their daughters surrounding the relapse. This commitment to openness, deeply embedded in their family values, extends to the children’s awareness of their father’s attendance at AA meetings every Tuesday and Thursday. Shepard shared a heartwarming anecdote involving his three-year-old daughter expressing interest in attending an AA meeting, showcasing the family’s candid approach to navigating difficult conversations.

Public Disclosure and Its Ripple Effect

Despite initial hesitations about the public disclosure of his relapse, Shepard recognized the potential positive impact on others grappling with similar struggles. Acting on a friend’s advice, he acknowledged that sharing the raw challenges, including relapses, could resonate more profoundly and be more helpful than projecting an image of a flawless sober life.

Shepard regards his relapse not as a failure but as a second chance to confront underlying issues and emotions. Six months into his renewed sobriety, he expressed a sense of well-being surpassing what he had previously experienced in recovery, illustrating that addiction recovery is an ongoing process that is not always linear.

Dax Shepard’s odyssey, then, provides a tapestry of insights into dealing with the issue of addiction within the family sphere. His commitment to unbridled honesty, both at home and on a public platform, shows the value of open communication in addressing and overcoming the multifaceted challenges related to substance abuse. If addiction is affecting your family, here’s how you can get help right away.

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Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

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