Kristen Bell says that when her husband, Dax Shepard, relapsed after 16 years of sobriety last summer, he was quick to admit he was ‘going down a bad road’ — and gave Kristen ‘full privilege’ to hold him accountable, even if that meant random drug testing.
The 40-year-old actress spoke candidly about Dax’s relapse, their marriage, and her own mental health struggles in the May issue of Self, which is dedicated to Mental Health Awareness Month.
She said that after admitting that he was battling a dependence on painkillers, Dax, 46, gave her ‘full privilege … to call him out on anything,’ telling her: ‘You can drug-test me whenever you want. I’m going to buy them. I’m going to have them in the house. If you ever feel nervous, I want you to have access to this and I’ll do it, no questions asked.’
Cover girl: Kristen Bell, 40, covers the May issue of Self, which is dedicated to Mental Health Awareness Month
Opening up: She spoke candidly about her husband Dax Shepard’s relapse, their marriage, and her own mental health struggles
Partners: When Dax relapsed after 16 years of sobriety, she said, he was quick to admit he was ‘going down a bad road’ and gave Kristen ‘full privilege’ to hold him accountable
Dax had publicly revealed his relapse last September in an episode of his podcast, Armchair Expert, admitting that his problems had started around six months before when he injured his hand and shoulder, and then were exacerbated by a motorcycle accident.
He was prescribed painkillers, but eventually came to buy oxycontin when he ran out. He said he noticed he started ‘getting shadier and shadier,’ and ‘felt so terrible about the lying.’
‘And I’m lying to other people and I know I have to quit,’ he confessed. ‘And I start getting really scared, and I’m starting to feel really lonely. And I just have this enormous secret.’
Though he admitted to ‘gaslighting’ his wife and his co-host, Monica Padman, at the time, Kristen told Self he came clean ‘so quickly.’
‘It was like, “I did something that I don’t want to do. I’m going down a bad road. I want help. I want your help,” she recalled.
Though he encouraged Kristen to drug-test him if she wanted, she says she hasn’t resorted to that yet.
Sticking to it: Though he encouraged Kristen to drug-test him if she wanted, she says she hasn’t resorted to that yet
‘He’s just good at trying, and that’s all you can ask of anyone. No one’s perfect. He’s proven to me that he is committed to evolving and he loves personal growth,’ she said
Committed couple: The pair have decided that they ‘ want to be on the porch with someone when you’re 80?’ so they are willing to work for that
‘He’s just good at trying, and that’s all you can ask of anyone. No one’s perfect. He’s proven to me that he is committed to evolving and he loves personal growth,’ she said.
Kristen added that it helps their marriage that they regularly go for couples therapy — something she readily admits so fans don’t get fooled into thinking there is some ‘fantasy’ of a perfect relationship.
‘I don’t want any young person feeling like there’s a fantasy out there that they just have to find the right person,’ she said. ‘That’s not how humans work. People change. People grow… Relationships aren’t a puzzle. You cannot pick them up and put them down.’
The pair have decided that they ‘want to be on the porch with someone when you’re 80?’ so they are willing to work for that — which means, among other things, sharing openly and honestly, even about finding other people attractive.
‘He can tell me someone he finds attractive, female or male, ’cause he pauses the Olympics on a lot of runners,’ Kristen said.
In fact, when they watched Friday Night Lights together, they were both ‘moments away from picking up the phone and asking both Minka Kelly and Taylor Kitsch if they wanted to join our marriage.’
‘He can tell me someone he finds attractive, female or male, ’cause he pauses the Olympics on a lot of runners,’ Kristen said
When they watched Friday Night Lights, they were both ‘moments away from picking up the phone and asking both Minka Kelly and Taylor Kitsch if they wanted to join our marriage’
Kristen has also been candid about her own mental health, and has spoken out on numerous occasions about suffering from depression and anxiety.
‘I know that I present someone who is very bubbly and happy all the time and a lot of the time I am, because I have really good tools,’ she told Shape.
‘But there are definitely days when the alarm goes off and I go, “No, I’m staying right here. Nothing’s worth it… I’m just going to stay in this cocoon because I need to; because I feel very, very, very vulnerable.”‘
She said that this past year, in particular, has been rough because of so much serious news, and she has, on occasion, needed Dax to help pull her out of it.
Dax appears to take a logical, tough love approach, and Kristen recalls one moment he came into the bedroom and asked, ‘Hey, real quick, are you helping anyone right now by sitting and crying in your bed, or are you just being self-indulgent?’
He told her: ‘Either get up and donate money or donate your time or do something to help, or take that story in, give it some love, and come out here and be a good mom and a good wife and a good friend and live your life in honor of the suffering that happens in the world.’
Honesty: Kristen has also been candid about her own mental health, and has spoken out on numerous occasions about suffering from depression and anxiety
Treasured: The actors also make a point to teach their children, six-year-old Delta and seven-year-old Lincoln, not to take their privilege for granted
Kristen said her immediate response was to be indignant, but she realized he was right, and it motivated her to get up, donate blood to the UCLA Blood & Platelet Center, and give money to No Kid Hungry.
Early in the pandemic, TMZ reported that Kristen and Dax waived rent for tenants in at least two residential buildings that they own.
The actors also make a point to teach their children, six-year-old Delta and seven-year-old Lincoln, not to take their privilege for granted.
‘I say to them all the time, “I’m not saying you can’t complain. You’re allowed to have any feeling you want, and you’re allowed to sit in it for as long as you need. But when you’re done, I just need you to remember we have the luckiest life you have ever heard of. You have a swimming pool in your backyard,”‘ she said.
Last month, Dax revealed how he and Kristen talked to their kids about his relapse.
‘They knew when I relapsed,’ he said on the In Fact with Chelsea Clinton podcast. ‘We explained, “Well, Daddy was on these pills for his surgery and then Daddy was a bad boy and he started getting his own pills.” Yeah, we tell them the whole thing.’
‘One of the cuter moments was, I wanna say my oldest daughter was three, back when my daughters wanted to be with me 24 hours a day,’ the Parenthood actor said. ‘She said, “Where are you going?” I said, “I’m going to AA.”
Real talk: Last month, Dax revealed how he and Kristen talked to their kids about his relapse
Funny moments: Dax shared how one of his daughters once asked to go with him to an AA meeting
‘She said, “Why do you have to go?” I said, “Because I’m an alcoholic and if I don’t go there, then I’ll drink and then I’ll be a terrible dad.”‘
Dax said that his daughter asked him if she could go with him, and he told her that she had ‘to be an alcoholic’ to go.
‘And she goes, “I’m gonna be an alcoholic.” I said, “You might become one. The odds are not in your favor, but you’re not there yet,”‘ he said.
Dax also described the heavy emotion he experienced when he had to go back to a meeting.
‘I had to go to my f***ing meeting I’ve been going to for 16 years … it was terrible,’ he said. ‘Weirdly, it was terrible leading up to it, because I had built this whole identity in my head around having 16 years.
‘I loved having 16 years. I was holding onto that so much, I was really scared of not having that … eventually, I couldn’t do it and I had to tell on myself.’
Kristen, meanwhile, told Ellen DeGeneres in October, that she and Dax were ‘going back to therapy.’
‘He’s addicted to evolving,’ 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.”
‘I will continue to stand by him because he’s very, very worth it,’ she added.