Getting and staying sober is hard work. And for someone with a substance use disorder, progress made in recovery is something worth celebrating. This weekend, Kristen Bell took the opportunity to help commemorate her husband Dax Shepard's 14th year in recovery in a sweet Instagram. She wrote a note praising Shepard's dedication as a husband, father, and friend, which she coupled with a series of couple and family photos.
Bell got refreshingly real and acknowledged how difficult it was for the actor to give up using.
"I know how much you loved using. I know how much it got in your way. And I know, because I saw, how hard you worked to live without it," she wrote in the caption. "I will forever be in awe of your dedication, and the level of fierce moral inventory you perform on yourself, like an emotional surgery, every single night." She also commended Shepard's willingness to make amends and say sorry when he's in the wrong, as well as his emotional availability as a partner and friend, offering open ears and tough love to everyone around him.
Bell, who herself has been candid about her experiences with depression and anxiety, also pointed out that her husband's decision to be honest about his struggles might help inspire someone else dealing with a substance use disorder. According to a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) report from 2014, approximately 21 million Americans ages 12 and up dealt with a substance use disorder within the year.
"I'm so proud that you have never been ashamed of your story, but instead shared it widely, with the hope it might inspire someone else to become the best version of themselves. You have certainly inspired me to do so," she wrote. "I love you more than I ever thought I could love anyone, and I want you to know, I see you. I see how hard you work. You set an excellent example of being human. Happy 14th year sobriety birthday."
Shepard's journey to sobriety has not been an easy one.
In a 2012 interview with Playboy, the actor revealed he was a heavy smoker, drinker, and drug user from ages 18 to 29. "I just loved to get fucked-up—drinking, cocaine, opiates, marijuana, diet pills, pain pills, everything," he said.
His frequent weekend benders put him in dangerous situations more than once, including fights resulting in a missing knuckle and misshapen nose, as well as a car accident in Hawaii while seeking out cocaine. "Of course, come Monday I would be tallying up all the different situations, and each one was progressively more dangerous. I got lucky in that I didn’t go to jail," he said. The actor also described how he would get sober to film new movies but would return to using immediately after the films wrapped in several cases. He has been in recovery since 2004.
Every individual's recovery process looks very different, but for most people, having a strong support system can be a tremendous help in getting and staying sober.
"This often involves family members who become the champions of their loved one’s recovery," according to SAMHSA. "They provide essential support to their family member’s journey of recovery and similarly experience the moments of positive healing as well as the difficult challenges." Bell is clearly that champion for her husband's recovery, and marking 14 years sober is definitely a hard-earned moment of positive healing for the couple to share.