Mama June Shannon recently celebrated 10 months clean and sober, and now the former trainwreck WEtv reality star says she wants to help others kick their addictions, too.
The Mama June: From Not to Hot star sat down with the Sober Nation FM to talk about what led her to get hooked on cocaine, how her relationship with boyfriend Geno Doak affected her addiction, and what was really happening in her life behind the scenes of her reality show.
“For a long time I was able to function and do production,” Mama June said during the interview. “When we got busted [for drug possession] in 2019, the world was shocked. My producers knew what was going on, but they kind of brushed it underneath the rug. Until it came to light in the media, that’s when they were like, ‘Oh no.’ I was the plague. But toward the end of that [season]…I don’t remember that. I was in and out of it.”
Here, The Ashley breaks down some of the most-interesting part of Mama June’s interview.
On trying her first drug, which was meth:
“I was always around drugs growing up,” June said. “My sister and brother-in-law sold drugs.
“I wasn’t a partier,” June said later. “I had my first kid when I was 14. I was on my own when I was 14, working three jobs, so I guess I never did think about that lifestyle.”
June said that, in the year 2000, she was trying to keep up with her busy life and turned to meth.
“The very first drug I ever done was meth. Oh my God, I loved it,” she said. “I was working three jobs and I was able to make more money. I was able to do more and stay up longer because, honestly, when I was working three jobs, I was working from 4 a.m. to midnight so I only needed a few hours’ sleep.”
While methed up, June said she would stay up for days—and even weeks–at a time!
“There were days of staying up 17 days, 14 days. I did that for a while but in 2004 I moved away and kind of got myself clean off of that. I went cold turkey of that, no rehab no nothing,” she said. “My life was great then. I was living in South Georgia, and we got our show [Here Comes Honey Boo Boo].”
On how she got back into drugs:
“I moved back to my hometown, which was Hampton [Georgia] in 2014,” she said. “I got hooked up with the same people and guess what I started doing? I started doing meth again. It was s**tty this time, but…it was the only drug I had ever done at that point.”
On life after meeting Geno Doak:
Surprisingly, Geno had a positive effect on June’s life…for a while.
“I met my boyfriend at the end of 2015,” se said. “He was like, ‘Look baby, if you want to know me, you’ve got to quit all that.’ I gave away 56 grams of meth the next morning and didn’t think twice about it. I went cold turkey again…but I would do X, or cocaine.”
Her sobriety only lasted about a year, though.
“In late 2016…I started doing cocaine. It was like half a gram, a gram and it started going up. It didn’t make me think about things; I knew I could make more money; I knew I could be in demand of our production team…”
June’s daughters were aware that she was doing drugs at this point.
“My kids knew what was going on. Some of my kids are older. I have a 26-year-old…. if I had done [a drug], even a pain medication, I would always tell my kids what was in our bodies, in case, God forbid, something happened. My kids did know. They didn’t know to what extent but they knew what was going on.”
Soon, though, June’s daughter, Lauryn “Pumpkin” Shannon, confronted her.
“I don’t shoot up. I never have. I hate f**king needles. But my kids started to find my boyfriend’s [drug needles] and my daughter was pregnant at that time, Pumpkin [who is a] 20-year-old now. She was 17 and pregnant and she told me, ‘Mama, you’ve got to chill this s**t out.’
Mama June said, from then on, she and Geno “hid” their drug use.
On her and Geno’s drug bust in March 2019:
June said that, while her kids and her show’s producers knew she and Geno were using, the world was shocked when she and Geno were arrested in Alabama for drug possession last year.
“Me and Geno was fightin’ so cops was called to a convenience store and they locked us up. We got drug charges. They found a needle on him.”
Geno was in trouble, and he was mad at June, so he decided to take her down with him.
“[Geno] screamed, ‘Hey she’s got drugs on her!’ I had a pipe…We had just cooked up cocaine… And I just dumped it into my floorboard. Luckily they didn’t’ call the [drug-sniffing] dogs on us.”
After she was released, June says she went right back to using, thanks to the drugs she had hidden in her car on the day she was busted.
“When I got my car back, my dope was still in my car…we stayed in Alabama for three months because I was considered a flight risk,” June said.
On the things she did (and sold) when she was desperate for money:
“I still had ‘Honey Boo Boo’ money, even when we started ‘Mama June.’ I had been very frugal with my money. But, trust me, cocaine is not a poor man’s drug.
“I was spending $3000-$4000 a day,” June said.
“I spent my money on dope, casinos, whatever. So, I went home, I sold my house and all the contents in it…at that point, I was up to 2-3 ounces of cocaine a day,” June said. “We was cookin’ it, and at that point I was smokin’ it. We ended up staying in a hotel, and waited until the money ran out again.
Mama June said that she wasn’t even enjoying the drugs anymore, but was just using them to survive.
“By that point, we had to do it less and less because we had less money,” she said. “I didn’t have any other choice…We would get clean for four-, five-, six days or a week. It was kind of a stupid thing.
“I went into an outpatient [rehab] service and I went there for a week. But after a week, I’d go and get high again.”
Mama June said that, by the Fall of 2019, things for her and Geno had become even worse.
“I gave our truck to the dope dealer so he would give us dope,” she said. “We would get them a hotel room, they would stay in our hotel room with us. (It was around this time that June and Geno got in trouble for trashing hotel rooms and/or not paying their hotel bills.)
“Then we started living in our car, because we didn’t have really any money,” she said.
On the things she pawned for drug money:
“I used to have rings all over my fingers,” June said. “I used to be drippin’ in diamonds. I used to be drippin’ in bracelets. I would pawn everything, and then go back and get them. I’d pawn shoes, wallets. I never stole from anybody. I never hustled anybody. I never panhandled. I always found a way to get my dope, from my own personal possessions.
“There was probably $100,000 worth of jewelry that I sold,” Mama June said. “For nothing.”
“One time I pawned rings that my daughter’s deceased grandmother had. I pawned them for like $45. But I got them back.”
On finally going into treatment:
June’s first attempt at rehab was unsuccessful.
“I was actually pushed [into treatment] by our production team,” she said. “They were like, ‘If you don’t go, we’re going to call DFCS [Department of Family & Child Services]. They actually did call DFCS. I was there 11 or 12 hours. I was pushed. I wasn’t ready. I honestly believe that if you’re not ready, you’re going to leave.”
After spending three days living in her truck parked at a trucker’s chapel, Geno mentioned to June that maybe it was time they got clean.
“I was so against it because I thought he wanted me to go into inpatient treatment just to get rid of me,” she said. “He was like, ‘No, no, if we don’t go in together, I don’t want to do it either.’ He wanted me to feel comfortable. A lot of people don’t know that I’m blind, I don’t like new places. I’m totally blind in one eye, and 5 percent [vision] only in the other eye.”
June reached out to her producers to see if the rehab offer from Banyan Treatment Center was still an option.
“We got a hold of our producers and told them we decided to go into treatment,” she said. “We had to wait a couple of days. If it had been even one more day, I would have told [the treatment center] Banyan to f**k off. I knew that I had $15,000 coming any day, and I knew that if I had waited one more day, I would have gotten high as s**t. But I didn’t.”
On what her rehab experience was like:
On February 1, 2020, Mama June and Geno boarded a plane to Florida to go to treatment.
“We stayed there 25 days. We just needed some clean time, if that makes sense. We worked the program.”
June said that, eventually, she and Geno got complacent in the treatment facility.
“We felt confident in ourselves that we could do it, and we wanted to show everybody that we could do it, now that we had clean time and stuff,” she said. “After 25 days we were dismissed after completing the program. I realized at that point I wanted to do it.”
On her life today:
June is still relatively broke, she says.
“I don’t have a lot of money still, even 10 months later,” Mama June said. “I think I’m in a good place in life. I have a very addictive personality so my new addiction is rehab work and recovery work.”
On the upcoming season of ‘Mama June: From Not to Hot’:
June was mostly absent from her show’s most-recent season, but she will be appearing in the next one.
“I started back with production. I am part of this season,” she said. “I’m coming back in 2021. But due to COVID, we’ve been not filming as much as I would like. I’ve kind of gone back to my old hustle, just making money any way we can. I don’t mean selling drugs, I mean knowing that you’ve got to make ends meet no matter what. Because that [TV] money could be gone in an instant.”
Watch June’s full interview with Sober Nation below!