“I have a tremendous amount of fear about doing this,” the Parenthood alum, 45, began on the Friday, September 25, episode of his “Armchair Expert” podcast. “Maybe some people will feel a sense of betrayal because we preach honesty and I was being dishonest.”
Shepard went on to reveal that he had fallen off the wagon and was taking Vicodin. While he admitted that his most recent motorcycle accident played a small part in his relapse, he added that it would be “unfair” to say that the August health scare was the sole reason for the change. The real battle began in 2012 when he was already several years sober.
“Eight years into sobriety, I had not done a single shady thing,” he explained. “In 2012, my father was dying. He got diagnosed with cancer in August and then he died December 31. I was going back [and forth] nonstop to do all the treatments with him and take him to chemo … I also got into a motorcycle accident going to work on Parenthood [at the time]. I immediately called my sponsor, and I said, ‘I’m in a ton of pain and I gotta work all day. And we have friends that have Vicodin.'”
At the time, Shepard’s sponsor encouraged him to get a prescription from his doctor and have his wife, Kristen Bell, be in charge of administering his doses. He later traveled back to see his father and left the pills behind because the Good Place star, 40, wasn’t flying with him. The Michigan native gave his ailing dad Percocet — and ended up taking some of the pills for himself.
“I go, ‘I have a prescription for this and I was in a motorcycle accident. I’m going to take some too,'” he continued. “You know, we had so little in common and so much friction. But the No. 1 thing we had in common was we were both f–king addicts and we had never used anything together. And we sat there stoned and looked at the lake. And in that moment, I felt elation and I was just happy. … I probably took twice [as much] of what my other prescription was.”
After taking the pills, Shepard was left feeling “overwhelmed” and cried to his wife, who had made a surprise visit to see her father-in-law. The Veronica Mars actress was a source of comfort for her husband in his difficult time and encouraged him to turn to someone for help in his ups and downs. Eight years later, he faced a similar struggle.
“That cycle happens maybe three or four more times,” he recalled. “I feel shady, but I don’t feel like this is a problem. I didn’t desire more when the thing was over. … After I ride sometimes on the track, I feel I’m entitled to take two Vicodin at the end of the day because I am in pain. That again doesn’t feel that crazy. … [But] I’m lying to other people and I know I have to quit … I start getting really scared, and I’m starting to feel really lonely. And I just have this enormous secret.”
Shepard eventually told Bell and his podcast cohost, Monica Padman, what he was going through and attended several meetings after taking “30 mil Oxys” every day. While he marked his 16-year sobriety birthday earlier this month, he revealed that he was high at the celebration meeting his group threw for him that day. Now, he’s seven days clean.
“I’ve had a lot of friends that I’ve watched go through this whole cycle, and I finally have the humility to say I will not be any different,” he said. “I won’t be special. I won’t be smarter. I will be exactly like everyone else.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).