In any battle we face, there will be moments of elation and moments of self-deprivation. As we celebrate our small victories, Dax Shepard reminds us that our faulters are just as, if not much more, important to recognize.
In an unexpected standalone bonus episode of Armchair Expert, Dax fessed up to his recent opioid addiction after more than 16 years sober of alcohol and cocaine use. But upon seeking help, it became clear the only way back for him was to disclose his slip-up to those closest to him, followed by another disclosure to his “Armcherry” listeners.
History might tell us this is where facetious insults would begin to get hurled.
But how would that help? What’s important here is to recognize someone in a struggle who could easily avoid a hassle by keeping it close to the chest, but as any Armcherry knows, nothing less than pure honesty and vulnerability is acceptable now.
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It’s rare to see a commitment to full-disclosure and honesty with an audience when so many celebrities would be happy to brush their skeletons under the rug and in the closet. But as the living room of lies becomes hard to walk on and the closet doors become brittle, the foundation and credibility begin to crumble. That’s why it’s crucial for someone like Dax, recognized for his achievements and rich enough to shake it off if he wanted, is willing to instead get knocked down a few pegs and own his addiction. It does allow him to continue the sincerity cornerstone of his podcast.
This bout of relapse had a clear build-up in hindsight. Shepard was actively avoiding alcohol and illicit drugs but was confronted with serious pain and arthritis after a series of motorcycle accidents and sharing an opioid with his addict father right before his passing. This eventually led to pocketing pills, failing to ween himself off and finally denying those closest to him that started to pick up on the hints of addiction.
Obviously, addiction is never easy, but the secrets and lies that go into sneaking your way around it and attempting to manage it before realizing you’re in over your head is its own form of addiction that only worsens the situation. But the willingness to expose yourself at your weakest moment, especially as a person of the public eye, when you’re helpless to prescription pills is something to behold.
According to Dax, the damage to his esteem after nearly two decades of sobriety was an extra blow to the addiction itself, but the exhaustion of managing something you’re powerless to takes its toll as well. Shepard said it becomes an out-of-body experience wherein you’re examining how well you’re managing as opposed to living your actual life.
After months of men’s mental health awarenesses — we’re currently on suicide — it’s become clear that one of man’s biggest obstacles is thinking we’re smart enough, strong enough or man enough to take addiction on our own. Then when we stumble or fall, we’re forced to hide both the problem and our inability to maintain. A double whammy for anyone, especially given the struggles going on now and the lack of helpful hands in arm’s reach.
We’re shining the light on Dax, not to call attention to the flaws or failures of another successful celebrity who seems to have it all, but rather to help Dax show that nobody is exempt from addiction. And the best thing you can do is to own it — admit ‘hey, I’m human, too’ — and be man enough to ask for help from people who love us and people who dedicate their lives to helping people like us.
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While Dax has moved past 7 days of opioid sobriety noted when the episode aired, we still have to credit him in his 16 years free from alcohol and cocaine. Otherwise, recovery becomes this game in which addicts are less willing to admit their mistakes if it clocks rolls back to zero and accomplishments are rescinded.
What does that say about us if we are unwilling to forgive or so easily taking progress away?
As we continue through one of the strangest years in human history, remember nobody was without struggle in these tough times, but what history should remember are those who struggled and had the strength to ask for help and courage to reach out for it.
What is it you struggle with most? Are you man enough to ask for help? Will you reach out when someone offers it?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nearly 30 percent of people prescribed opioids misuse them, nearly 10 percent develop an opioid disorder and close to 5 percent transition to heroin. And 80 percent of people who use heroin initially abused opioids.