“We are recording the podcast and somehow [it] always becomes a therapy session for us,” Otis, 37, said in a tearful Instagram video on Thursday, July 27. “The five-star review [a listener submitted], someone mentioned the loss of her brother from drugs and then it just caused Doug to feel like he could open up a little bit more about all that he was going through and a time that he almost died from his drug addiction that I didn’t even know about.”
“I always knew my hubby was hiding something from me – I didn’t know exactly what though,” Otis — who shares two children with Hehner — captioned her Instagram upload. “I remember a time during the holidays that I was with his family & they said ‘When Doug’s ready to tell you, he will.’ I asked Doug what on earth they were talking about but of course, he didn’t say. I felt like an outsider looking in. It hurt to know there was some sort of secret that no one wanted to tell me.”
Otis continued: “Little did I know — my hubby was only hiding bc he was ashamed. He felt guilty. He felt embarrassed. And his family was protecting him. It’s taken us nearly a decade, but my husband told me everything. … I’m so proud of my hubby. He is no longer hiding. He is free. And I can see his genuine happiness.”
During the Wednesday, July 26, episode of their podcast, Hehner detailed his addiction battle.
“There was one time where my sister had to wake me up because she heard me coughing in my sleep,” he recalled. “I don’t know if I ever mentioned this [to you, Jamie]. … This was bad. Being ashamed of something for so long and not wanting to bring it up, it’s really difficult [because] you want to black out a lot of the bad things that happened.”
Hehner — who was living with his parents at the time — was gurgling in his sleep, which worried his sister. By the time he woke up, a police officer and an EMT were standing above him. “I was unresponsive and [had] shallow breathing, from what they said,” he recalled. “But I wasn’t waking up.”
As he remembered seeing his parents’ faces from inside the ambulance on his way to the hospital, Hehner broke down in tears. “I was just thankful to be alive, how close it could have been to not being here,” he said. “I haven’t thought about that in a while.”
Otis chimed in, noting that despite “nine and half years married” she didn’t know the depths of Doug’s struggles and shared her support for her spouse. She explained that his story was not a shameful one because “addiction is a disease.”
Hehner is currently sober and explained in Wednesday’s episode that he is halfway through the process of weaning off Suboxone, a prescription medication used to treat adults with an opioid addiction.
If you or anyone you know is facing substance abuse issues, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for free and confidential information 24/7.