Amber Portwood From Prison: I've Been a "Terrible" Mother to Leah, 3

Celebrity News Oct. 10, 2012 AT 11:00AM
Amber Portwood arrives at Indiana's Madison County Court hand-cuffed and wearing a striped jumpsuit on February 6, 2012. Amber Portwood arrives at Indiana's Madison County Court hand-cuffed and wearing a striped jumpsuit on February 6, 2012. Credit: Butterworth/Massie/SplashNews

Four months into her five-year prison sentence, Teen Mom star Amber Portwood admits that being behind bars saved her life.

Opting to go to prison in June instead of completing a court-ordered rehab program, the mom to Leah, 3, told Dr. Drew Pinsky in a new MTV interview that her intense addiction to the prescription medication pain patch Fentanyl would eventually kill her.

PHOTOS: Look back at Amber's time on Teen Mom

"When I was in treatment, I wasn't getting anything out of it. I was still doing drugs and I just didn't care," Portwood told addiction specialist Pinsky during Tuesday's Amber Behind Bars: An MTV Special. "I'd be chewing a [Fentanyl] patch when I went to [do a urine drug] screen. I couldn't live my life like that at 22 not giving a f--k. I knew I was going to die. Nothing mattered to me."

VIDEO: What Amber misses most while in prison

Though Portwood's mother, Tonya, is the only person who visits her in the prison's "therapeutic community" ward, the MTV reality star does speak to her daughter and ex Gary Shirley -- who retains full custody of their little girl -- on the telephone almost daily. "I talk to Leah but I feel like she's forgetting about me. When I was with Gary and Leah, I wasn't part of a family. I don't think I was a terrible person -- I just know i can be better than what i was," an emotional Portwood told Pinsky. "I haven't been there for Leah, that's terrible enough. She needs more and she deserves more."

PHOTOS: How Amber's daughter has grown up

In her effort to remain clean, Portwood keeps active behind bars and spends her days taking GED classes and working as a dorm porter, scrubbing bathrooms for 60 cents an hour.

"I'm trying to do something with my life now," said Portwood, who endures taunts and criticism from other inmates familiar with Teen Mom. "I care about how people think of me. I have a lot to give [and] I have a lot to learn."

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"I'll come out of this a better person and a better mom. I was never ready [to be a mom, but] I'm ready now," Portwood continued. "I've had so many other chances I've screwed up. This is my last chance -- you can't go any lower than prison [unless you're faced with] death."

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