Amber Portwood has come a long way since her Gary-punchin’, pill-poppin’ first seasons on Teen Mom!
The ‘Teen Mom OG’ star opened up about her past drug addiction (and how it played out on ‘Teen Mom’), as well as the current state of her sobriety during an interview on the Dopey podcast, which discusses drug addiction. Amber admitted that, in the early days of ‘Teen Mom,’ she was not a good person–or a good mother.
“You can blame the drugs for the most part, with being impulsive but it wasn’t just that,” Amber added. “It was just me as a person. I was just an angry person [who was] kind of an a**hole back in the day. I was very immature and I just needed to find out what I needed to do to be healthy.”
These days, Amber– who gave birth to her son James in May— says she is sober from drugs, but does drink alcohol on occasion. She says that with her son, she’s doing parenting differently because she’s not on drugs like she was when Leah was little.
“I wasn’t a good mom,” Amber said. “I was very selfish and I was very immature and I wasn’t really taking care of her the way I should have been.”
Amber said she tries to raise Leah differently than she was raised so she will have better opportunities in life.
“I want her to know that she needs to work hard,” Amber said. “I tell her, ‘This right here [being on a reality show] is not reality,” Amber said. “You don’t make money like this when you don’t have a talent. I try to tell her that there’s no real raw talent in this and that [she] needs to go to college.”
She stated that she and Leah’s dad Gary Shirley already have enough money set aside to pay for Leah to go to college.
“We have the money in two different accounts set aside for her, waiting, because we have dreams for her,” Amber said. “We both, we didn’t have college funds and things like that. We just want her to be better.”
Amber told the podcast host, Dave, that starring on 16 and Pregnant and ‘Teen Mom’ were not the cause of her addiction.
“I had been partying since I was 11,” Amber said. “That’s the first time I ever did pills. In [my hometown of] Anderson, [Indiana], there’s not much to do. A lot of kids at school always brought s**t from their house. We didn’t even know what half of it was and we were taking it…that’s kind of where it started.”
By 15, Amber said she was hanging out with “really bad people” and her pill use escalated.
“[I was using] a lot of opiates, things like that,” she said. “I think I was trying to self-medicate at the time. I was probably very depressed, and it just kind of spiraled out of control. It wasn’t until I got pregnant with my daughter Leah that I stopped doing drugs all together because I was so scared of something happening to her.”
Amber said that, about six months after she gave birth to Leah, she was back on the opiates. (This was, of course, about the time she was filming the first season of ‘Teen Mom.’)
“I started taking medication for my back, because I have scoliosis,” Amber said. “I got addicted, started partying and it was crazy.”
While Amber doesn’t blame her gig as an MTV reality TV star for her addiction, she did admit that the money she received for being a trainwreck on TV surely helped fund her drug use.
“Here’s the thing: I was doing this stuff before MTV came along, and I don’t think I was stopping [my drug use],” she said. “MTV could have came and went, and I think it would have still went the same direction with being an addict and getting in trouble.
“When you’re making a lot of money, there’s more drugs,” she added. “When I do an interview [now], people want me to blame MTV for everything. I always try to tell people that the money didn’t help, because obviously I had more means to get drugs. Every time a drug dealer had a new stash of whatever, they’d call me first because they knew I’d buy the whole script! I had the money to do it.”
Amber said her drug of choice was hydrocodone.
“I was a horrible opiate addict,” she said. “I would probably do 10 to 20 hydros. If they didn’t have hydros, it would be Oxycotin or Oxycodone, or Roxys…any kind of opiate that they had.”
She admitted for the first time ever that she had used heroin, but stated, “I never shot up or anything like that, but I was snorting it. I never sought it out or bought it personally.”
When she wasn’t poppin’ pills, Amber says she was out kickin’ ass and getting in fights.
“I’d go party. It would be a Wednesday and I’d be at the f**king bar, whippin’ ass and s**t,” Amber said. “Getting kicked out of bars.”
Amber said that, at one point, she even got booted from her favorite place.
“I got kicked out of our Walmart!” she said. “There’s like pictures of me beatin’ up a girl in IHOP!” (As.You.Do.)
“It wasn’t just [drugs]; I had really horrible anger problems. I’m bipolar and I’m borderline, which is not an excuse, but at the time I didn’t know it, so I wasn’t really taking care of myself or understanding why I was feeling certain emotions.”
Amber was always in denial that she had a drug problem, even though she says she never did a season of ‘Teen Mom’ clean before she went to prison.
“I don’t think I started to identify as an addict until after I went to prison [in 2012],” she said.
Amber implied that she got her entitled butt handed to her while she was in prison.
“I realized I wasn’t the baddest [person in there] and I couldn’t just fight anyone I wanted to,” she said. “It was a humbling experience.”
She says she’s thankful she has been able to watch herself on ‘Teen Mom’ for almost 10 years.
“Being on ‘Teen Mom’ has showed me who I really am, as a person,” she said.
“It was a absolutely horrible to watch [those early episodes], because they were some of the worst moments of my life, and they are on television,” Amber said. “It’s sad, and you want to use again because of it. But then you think, ‘If I do use again, I’m gonna f**king act like that again!'”
When asked what was the hardest thing she had to watch herself do on TV, Amber gave a surprising answer.
“I think people want me to say when I hit Gary but that’s not it,” she said. “I think it was realizing last season that I thought I was doing the right thing by keeping my daughter out of my life while I was depressed and drinking, but that wasn’t the right move. It really hurt to see that wasn’t the right decision, and it was hurting Leah. I got all this feedback from people who said I was a horrible mom, but people don’t understand that, in my head, I thought I was doing the right thing.”
Earlier this year, Amber admitted that she had slipped in her sobriety while she was appearing on Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars Family Edition with her ex-fiance Matt Baier and her mother Tonya.
“I was heavily drinking on top of my bipolar and borderline medication,” Amber tweeted in March. “Obviously something you shouldn’t do with medications like that. However it happened and I went through hard times in order to be truly happy finally.”
These days, Amber says she is in a much better place, but she still drinks on occasion.
“Now I can have a glass of wine now and again. It’s definitely not everyday, it’s not every month….I stopped getting drunk,” she said. “Here was my thought process that made no sense whatsoever. I thought I wouldn’t do pills, so I would just drink a little because I had never had a problem with drinking. I was drinking to the point where I was drunk and that was my life…I’ve been through too much to even get back to that point.”
Amber hinted that ‘Teen Mom OG’ fans may see a new-and-improved Amber on the upcoming season of the show, which premieres October 1.
“I finally got a grip on who I want to be, who I really am, and how to deal with all this drama without going absolutely insane,” she said. “I can say that today. I couldn’t say that about a year and a half ago [when I was] on ‘Marriage Boot Camp’ trying to whoop everybody’s ass!
“Today I’m a completely different person,” she added. “I’m really happy.
“My dream now is to grow and move forward,” she said. “I think I helped as many as I could [by being] on ‘Teen Mom.’ I would love to keep helping people on ‘Teen Mom’ but I just feel like the show might be moving a different direction than where I thought it was going.”
She hinted her next project is “impactful and personal” but wouldn’t go into specific details.
“Whatever I do, I want to do it on a large scale so it can really impact a lot of lives,” Amber said. “I feel like with ‘Teen Mom’ I was able to do that, but I want to do more.”
(Photos: MTV, Instagram)