The Herald Bulletin

December 20, 2013

'Teen Mom' opens up to Dr. Phil

Reality TV star talks addiction, motherhood in first interview since release from prison

By Kelly Dickey
The Herald Bulletin

---- — ANDERSON — “Teen Mom” star Amber Portwood sat down with Dr. Phil McGraw on the set of "Dr. Phil" for her first interview since being released from prison last month.

On the show, which aired Friday, the Anderson resident said she’s battled addiction since childhood and put drugs above her daughter, Leah, not wanting “that mommy life.”

Portwood said her focus was on drugs, men and partying.

“When you’re an addict, No. 1 in your life is your drugs and you know that if you don’t have those drugs, you’re not physically moving that day,” she said. “You’re not able to even function.”

The reality star said she was constantly using drugs during filming of “Teen Mom.”

“This is actually my first time on stage sober, so I’m really nervous,” she said.

While in rehab and on house arrest, she got high using fentanyl skin patches, a prescription drug that treats severe and ongoing pain that can’t be controlled with other medicines. She even had the substance in her mouth during a drug test.

“I would open up the patches and eat the patch,” she said. “It’s like a three-day patch. Very dangerous. And I was using that the whole time I was in there with a friend, or whatever she was.”

Portwood said she grew up around addiction with an alcoholic father. She started using drugs at age 9, smoking marijuana at 11 and started abusing pills when she was 12 or 13.

The 23-year-old said she wasn’t using drugs during the filming of “16 and Pregnant,” but relationship issues with Gary Shirley drove her to get high by the time “Teen Mom” started.

Portwood said her addiction got to the point where she didn’t care how many pills she took. She said she attempted suicide the night before she went to court to tell the judge she chose prison.

Portwood was initially sentenced to five years for violating probation in a drug possession case. She entered Rockville Correctional Facility in June 2012 and was released early after 17 months for good behavior, time served and for completing prison courses.

“The decision that I had was that it was either death or it’s prison, now which one’s worse?” she said. “It was pretty equal to me.”

She got to see her daughter only three times while in prison, Portwood said. She wants to eventually get joint custody with Shirley.

Portwood got her GED while in prison and said she plans to start school in January. She also said she’s starting an organization called Never Too Late to help people who have struggled.

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