Just days after getting a five-year prison sentence for quitting her court-ordered drug treatment program, “Teen Mom” star Amber Portwood is speaking out about her problems — including another suicide attempt — from behind bars. The reality personality is serving time for her felony possession and domestic battery charges.
“I took 30 Suboxone within three days,” she told ABC News on Wednesday. The prescription medication is used to treat opioid dependence. “The depression took over and I’d just take four or five at a time under my tongue and nod out.”
Last June, the 22-year-old was hospitalized after trying to take her own life, and later entered rehab for anger and depression.
Clare Waismann, a registered addiction specialist, told TODAY.com it’d be important to understand the dosage of Suboxone Portwood was taking to know how much danger she had put herself in, “but with any opiate, there is a major risk of respiratory depression that could cause her to stop breathing.” She noted that even though the medication contains drugs that have a ceiling effect (a plateau, in other words) on the respiratory depression, “there is still a tremendous risk when taking any opiate, especially at that high of a dose.”
So why didn’t Portwood stick with her court-ordered treatment? She told The Herald Bulletin, the paper in her hometown of Anderson, Ind., that the program didn’t work for her because of her status as a reality personality.
“You sit in a room with tons of people and they expect you to completely open up about your life and say personal things. It was very uncomfortable,” she explained.
Instead, she opted to drop out of the required program and take on a five-year sentence. “I felt like I’d rather do my time and get it over with and make the best out of the situation that’s been handed to me,” she told ABC News.
Not only that, she also said, “I felt like I was wasting my time” because she couldn’t deal with the requirements of the drug program.
Bad move, said Waismann, who is also the administrative director of the Waismann Method treatment, a pioneering treatment for opiate dependency. “I believe prison will do more harm than good in the long run for Amber,” Waismann told us. The reason, she explained, is that people with mental health issues – as Portwood has admitted she has, and as her history of suicide attempts shows – need to be treated by psychiatrists and not law enforcement officers. But that’s not all.
“Amber will not have the chance to adjust to a life outside of prison without drugs, which may make it easier for her to fall into the same habits once she returns to her daily routine,” Waismann said.
Though MTV’s cameras have been there to capture many of Portwood’s troubles, don’t blame “Teen Mom” for her issues. Portwood said her problems began long before the popular docuseries.
“Everybody wants to blame the show, but I don’t,” Portwood told The Herald Bulletin Wednesday, explaining that she was partying well before MTV appeared in her life. She admitted that she started taking drugs around age 13, and stopped only when she was pregnant with her daughter, Leah, now 3. Her ex-fiance, Gary Shirley, now has custody of their little girl.
It was an explosive season two episode of “Teen Mom” that first landed Portwood in legal trouble. In 2010, the show aired a scene during which the young mother repeatedly hit Shirley. She eventually pled guilty to felony domestic violence charges and was given a two-year suspended sentence and two years of probation, which she later violated.
Though she may not blame “Teen Mom,” Portwood told The Herald Bulletin the show didn’t exactly help either. “When you get so much money at a young age, you do what you want. When you go to a bar, people recognize you and buy you drinks.” She also said that the negative attention from the show also made her depressed.
Now that she’s behind bars, Portwood plans to put her life back together. “I’m not just gonna sit,” she told ABC News. “I’m going to do substance abuse classes, I’m going to get my GED.”