Dax Shepard Just Opened up About the Childhood Trauma That Sparked His Addiction

April 19th 2016

Lucy Tiven

Drug addiction and sexual abuse can both be uncomfortable topics to discuss openly. But, actor Dax Shepard just bravely shared how being molested as a 7-year-old child contributed to his addiction to drugs and alcohol in an interview with the Jason Ellis Show on Sirius XM

It took Shepard 12 years to speak up about what happened to him, according to the actor. For years, he blamed himself. "And then all that time, I was like, a) it’s my fault, as generic as that is … and I’m gay, I must have manifested this because I’m secretly gay," he explained. "I had all these insane thoughts for 11 years or 12 years."

Shepard said that he didn't realize how the experience might have fueled his relationship with drugs and alcohol until his mother, an advocate for foster children, told him, "if you've been molested, you only have a 20 percent chance of not being an addict."

While it's unclear what percentage of sexual assault survivors go on to face drug addiction, at least one study suggests a strong correlation. 

In a 2009 report on substance use and sexual violence, the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape reported that "according to one study (Kilpatrick, Edmunds, & Seymour, 1992), when compared with non-victims, rape victims are: 3.4 times more likely to use marijuana, 5.3 times more likely than non-survivors to use prescription drugs for non-medical purposes, 6.4 times more likely to use cocaine" and "10 times more likely to use hard drugs other than cocaine."

This is not the first time the actor has discussed his history with substance abuse. "From 18 to 29 I was a heavy smoker, heavy drinker, drug addict, terrible eater and philanderer," he told Playboy, in a 2012 interview. "The past eight years, since I got sober, have honestly been about trying to peel back each of those habits, to get back to the 12-year-old kid inside who was tremendously excited about life."

But Shepard's newfound knowledge changed the way he perceived his addiction. "Because in my mind I just like to have a f*cking great time. But when you hear a statistic like that, I’m like, ‘oh no, I was going to be an addict, period,'" the actor explained.

Victims of sexual assault often turn to substance abuse later in life.

A 2002 study published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that women who experienced sexual abuse as children were three times more likely to become dependent on drugs as adults than women who had not been sexually abused.

"Overall, childhood sexual abuse was more strongly associated with drug or alcohol dependence than with any of the psychiatric disorders," study author Dr. Kenneth Kendler wrote. "Only drug and alcohol dependence were significantly associated with all levels of abuse."

We need to stand up for victims of sexual abuse.

As ATTN: has previously reported, Actress Viola Davis opened up about how her sister was driven to drug addiction by age 20 after being sexually abused in a store as a child.

"She came home and told my mom. My mom started screaming at the store owners. And they said, 'leave that man alone. He does that to all the little girls,'" Davis said at a Los Angeles benefit for the Stuart House, an organization dedicated to helping children and families who face sexual abuse.

She also encouraged victims to speak out about their experiences, "call out their abusers," and resist the urge to blame themselves.

"I wish I could tell me sister that she is not dirty," the actress said. "And that she should not feel any shame of something the she was literally not responsible for."

[H/T Bustle]