A Sober Amber Portwood Tells Dr. Phil “I Was On Drugs The Entire Time I Filmed Teen Mom”

Amber Portwood With Leah After Prison Release - November 2013

Controversial former Teen Mom reality star Amber Portwood has made some changes and has hopefully turned her life around, after she spent 17 months locked up in Rockville Correctional Facility. Amber has finally decided to come clean and be an open book about her life’s many shocking ups and downs. In her first eye opening interview with In Touch magazine, Amber had explained how she was picking up the several shattered pieces of her life after returning home from prison because of her domestic violence, drug possession arrests and repeated probation violations.

She told the gossip magazine, “Before prison, I never thought about Leah. I was addicted to drugs and didn’t care about anything else,” Amber was hooked on prescription pills like Vicodin and Ambien. She says “Prison saved my life and gave me a second chance at being a mother.” Amber explains, that it didn’t always feel that way. “It felt like a nightmare, Feeling humiliated and vulnerable (from the strip search), you literally have nothing and walk around like a zombie. There were times I reached a breaking point,” Also saying she tried not to become overwhelmed by thoughts of her daughter Leah, who had visited her only three times, she says “I knew the only person who could get me out of there was me.”

Amber Portwood Sitting With Dr Phil McGraw - December 2013

She recently took time out and talked with Dr. Phil, during her first post-prison release television interview. The former embattled reality star spoke candidly about her struggles with drug addiction and anger management issues. Amber took time to share her future plans. “I was completely lost back then,” Amber told Dr. Phil.I had this money. I had these pills. I had this crazy life. I was fighting with Gary all the time. That was my way of getting my emotions out. Every time you see me on that show, I was high, except for when I was on 16 and Pregnant,” Amber admits, “This is actually my first time on stage sober, so I’m really nervous.”

Amber’s life was out of control. In November 2009, Amber and then-boyfriend, Gary Shirley, welcomed their daughter, Leah, into their lives and the lives of the viewing public on MTV’s reality TV show 16 & Pregnant and the follow-up series, Teen Mom. The world saw Amber and Gary’s constant drama and a disturbing insight into their tumultuous relationship. In two different episodes back in 2010, Amber was seen violently slapping, punching, choking and kicking Gary. Their fights got so bad that it also happened one time, in front of their daughter, which got the attention of authorities. During December 2010, Amber was arrested on three counts of domestic battery and held in jail for 24 hours. She had pleaded not guilty and was released on $5,000 bail, but the reality star’s troubles didn’t end there. It only got sadly worse.

Gary fought a court battle and was eventually awarded full custody of Leah. Amber’s wild spree was far from over as she was arrested again in December 2011 for several probation violations, including being found with prescription pills and failing a urine test and lying about it. In June 2012, she shocked many when she decided to quit her court ordered rehab after three months and choose to serve her five-year prison sentence instead, because she felt “very depressed” and “all alone”. After serving prison time in Indiana, Amber was released early for good behavior on November 4, 2013, and now she finds herself starting her life over which is a hard adjustment.

Amber Portwood Free From Addiction Prison Release - November 2013

Amber also explained “I grew up around addiction” and how her life spiraled out of control. Dr Phil asked her, “Do you feel bad for hitting Gary?” Which Amber said that she did have regrets. “This got so bad for you that in June 2011, I know you had a failed rehab, and you tried to take your own life,” Dr. Phil says. “Did you really want to die?” Amber told him “I didn’t care, If I woke up, great. If I didn’t, that was all right too, I didn’t care.” She then added, “I knew the amount of pills I was taking was crazy.” Amber explains during that time, she wasn’t allowed to see Leah and it destroyed her, “In my life then, what I thought was that everything had turned to shit. I had nothing anymore. What am I even here for?” 

Dr. Phil then told her, “People had no idea how bad this was at the time for you, how deep into this you were,” Amber agreed with him and said, “I was pretty good at masking it with people around me, but it wasn’t good. I had done 60 days in rehab in Malibu. At this time, I was in drug court, which is a rehab through the courts in your county,” she explains. “I was still using, and I was actually using worse.” Amber explained the shocking lengths she would go to in order to get high, including eating topical patches of a narcotic pain reliever called Fentanyl. “It’s very dangerous. I was using that the whole time I was in (rehab) with a friend in drug court and on house arrest.” She says,I know, it sounds crazy. It sounds crazy to me now too, but back then, it was normal, I guess.”

Amber wants to do the right thing. While in prison she said “I’m going to take some classes, I’m going to get my GED, take as many programs as I can. You know, just try to better myself for when I do get out and not stay in prison…” She adds, “I’ll be off the drugs, I’ll have an education to get me a job.” We really do hope that she accomplishes all of her goals, lives a healthy and very happy life.

Amber Portwood With Gary Shirley and Leah Having Lunch - December 2013

Amber remembers the day she asked a judge to send her to prison, “The decision I had was either it’s death, or it’s prison.” Dr. Phil asked her, “Why will you not relapse?” Amber responded, “I have a lot of goals in life. Right now, I’m really working toward my future.” She explains that she plans to start college in January 2014 and says she’s also partnered up with Never Too Late, an upcoming social campaign focused on helping people overcome addiction. “It’s about how it doesn’t matter what your past is or where you’ve been. You can always change. You can always accomplish what you want to accomplish.” That’s so very true.

Dr. Phil asked Amber a question about the show, “If you knew then what you know now, would you have done those shows?” Amber replied, “Yes, It just would have been different.” Dr. Phil says, “I’ve always said, ‘Life is managed; it’s not cured,'” He continues, “If you have something to move toward, which is your future with Leah and all of the things you can share with her, that gives you a reason to get up and get high on her, instead of something else.”

It has been reported that Amber allegedly wants to follow in the footsteps of Teen Mom star Farrah Abraham and make a sex tape of her own, but we hope she won’t get off track and ruin herself in that sort of way. Other reports claim that she and Gary will reconcile their relationship. Last month the pair was asked by TMZ if they were planning to get back together, Amber was quick to reply, ‘No’, with Gary then adding a more emphatic response, ‘Hell no!’ but they will instead remain friends for now. Amber will be working hard to earn, joint custody of her daughter.

What do you think about Amber’s new life and new look? Will she stay clean and do that right thing? Please share your thoughts, opinions and comments down below…


  1. Just Me says:

    I remember when Amber made the decision to go to jail and I thought she was out of her mind, but she's right. It's too easy to get drugs in rehab, especially the one she was at in California. I think she ended up making the right decision after all, even though she had to leave her daughter (who is beautiful by the way) its going to make her a much better person in the long run. Amber and Gary seem to be doing the co parenting thing pretty good so I hope they are able to keep things going and not become another teen mom statistic.

  2. Cassandra says:

    I think that Amber has really changed. She made a wise decision to serve prison time to clean herself up. From her demeanor on the Dr. Phil interview it appears that she really is sober. I believe her and wish Amber nothing but good things for her, Gary and their daughter Leah. I hope she completes everything she sets out to do. Good luck to her!

  3. […] former MTV cast members of Teen Mom. Farrah admits she was never really friends with co-stars Amber Portwood, Maci Bookout, Jenelle Evans and Catelynn Lowell. Back in March 2014, it had […]

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