During the October 14 episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Kristen Bell shared how things have been going since her husband, Dax Shepard, publicly discussed his relapse after 16 years of sobriety from opioid use.
“He’s actually doing really great,” Bell said in the episode. “I mean look, everybody’s up against their own demons, sometimes it’s anxiety and depression, sometimes it’s substance abuse.”
Bell said that although the couple had a plan in place for doling out the pain medication Shepard sometimes requires due to several injuries, the plan wasn’t quite enough. “If he has to take medication for any reason, I have to administer it,” Bell said. But after relapsing, she said Shepard told her, “We need a stronger plan. I was faltering and I have to do some kind of emotional work to figure out why I wanted to use again.”
One of the biggest reasons why Bell loves her husband is his dedication to growth and evolution, she said: “He was like, ‘I don’t want to risk this family and I did, so let’s put new things in place to make sure it doesn’t happen again.’”
As People recounted, Shepard first publicly discussed his relapse on the September 25 edition of his podcast, Armchair Expert, in an episode titled “Day 7.” In 2012, after he had been eight years sober, Shepard got into a motorcycle accident that put him in significant pain. He told his sobriety sponsor, who advised that he could take opioid painkillers, but that he would need a doctor’s guidance and a prescription, and that Bell would need to be in charge of giving him his dosage.
That worked fine at the time, Shepard said, but he eventually had the task of giving his father prescribed painkillers for cancer, and things got harder. “So I give him a bunch of Percocet and then I go, I have a prescription for this, and I was in a motorcycle accident, and I’m gonna take some too,” Shepard said on his podcast. He took about twice as much as his prescription warranted, he said.
He explained the situation to Bell, who was pregnant with their first daughter, Lincoln, at the time. “She’s like, ‘You clearly need to call someone in AA, but I would say you’re f— up from this accident, you got high with your dad, keep it moving. You don’t need to redefine it. You didn’t lose eight years,’ which was so comforting,” he said.
But Shepard got injured again. In early 2020, he broke his hand in an ATV accident and also got into another motorcycle accident. He wound up needing intense surgery on his shoulder, Bell said. His ongoing hand injuries have been significant, too. “He lost a knuckle in the first accident and then it started poking out,” Bell explained. “Then he lost another one and it came down a little bit, so… I mean he’s got the right amount of knuckles, they’re just not in the right places.”
After these more recent accidents, Shepard started buying painkillers and lying to his loved ones, he said on his podcast. He knew the lying was a sign that he needed help getting sober again.
The couple has been open about going to counseling together, and Bell told DeGeneres they’ll be going back to therapy. “I will continue to stand by him,” Bell said. “Because he’s very, very worth it.”