The Bachelor’s Ben Higgins Reveals He Stole Pills From His Grandfather Amid Four-Year Struggle With Opioid Abuse
Bravo to Ben Higgins for getting clean and sober after a past struggle with painkillers — and even more credit to the former Bachelor leading man for opening up about it in a bid to help others!
On Wednesday, the 32-year-old former reality TV star appeared on Addiction Talk Live, the Facebook Live series put on by the group American Addiction Centers. And during a frank and honest 38-minute discussion, the Colorado native revealed quite a bit about the battles of his past.
Looking back at his addiction, which Ben battled earlier in his life well before Bachelor fame, the former TV star explained how things took a turn in high school, first experimenting with painkillers as a sophomore. Then, in his junior year, a rough tackle on the football field “blew [his] knee apart,” and he was prescribed his own dosage for a time during recovery from surgery.
From that point, things went downhill:
“Sports was my identity. I’m 6’4″, it’s the thing I was going to go to college to do, the thing I’d done my whole life, it was the thing that brought me the most joy. For me, that was a turning moment where I realized my identity, the thing that I had always counted on was going to be taken away. I was already struggling with this lack of identity… and when I took the medication, I remember it being a numbing moment for me. When I was high… my mind wouldn’t wander. It just made me feel number or more… at peace. I just took them then to just rid myself of the pain emotionally that was inside of me. That was the start.”
Whoa. Days turned into weeks, which turned into months, and then eventually years. Along the way, he recounted the “slow fade” of finally realizing just how hooked he was after years of abusing painkillers well after his injury healed.
He said (below):
“I was recognizing that I was always hiding something from somebody. I think that was the first sign to me, is I was always strategically prepping in my mind on how I could hide whatever it was. Maybe I was carrying something on me, or maybe I was going to go find it, or maybe I was high at the time and I didn’t want anybody to know. I was always hiding something. For a while I was OK with it. But then over time, as I started to feel a ton of depression, a ton of anxiousness around, ‘Where was I gonna find the next pill? Where was I going to find the next bottle?’ And then doing that around friends and family who loved me, it started to click.”
Wow! Speaking of “friends and family,” Ben’s lowest moment came when he took some pills from his grandfather, who had been prescribed the medication by a doctor. Finally recognizing just how deep into addiction he was, Higgins finally took a step back. He recalled:
“I remember doing it and walking out and I just remember this feeling of like, ‘Who are you? What is this about? Why are you still doing this? You’re taking something from somebody that needs it and someone that you love.’ That was, I think, the start of me starting to say, ‘I need to start at least confronting it.’”
What a mind f**k. And yet it just goes to show how strong and difficult addiction can be, because it still took Higgins another year before he finally said “I’m done” for good.
During that last painful year of addiction, the former Bachelor recalled one particular time where he spent 24 consecutive hours in bed, unwilling to get up and crushed under the weight of depression and anxiety. He remembered:
“I think it was finally just looking at myself in the mirror after 24 hours in my bed and saying, ‘Hey, this isn’t the man you want to be’… I don’t know why I was ready in that moment. I can’t tell you there was a lot leading up to it, I don’t know why it happened then. But at that moment is when I officially decided I needed to get help. That’s when I started telling my friends, I started telling my family… That’s when it started to become a thing that I knew I needed to rid myself of, or at least try to heal from.”
And so, that was the beginning of a huge step forward. Nine years on, now, Ben reports he’s been completely sober and clean from painkillers. But he’s also a pragmatist, and admitted during the interview that his past addiction is “still a thing that I work through today.”
Knowing the potential for a slip back if he isn’t careful, the likable almost-politician admitted:
“It is still something that is on my mind. Somebody asked me the other day… how it feels to be recovered and I said, ‘It feels good, but I know I could easily slip back into it.’ It is still sometimes a battle. I’ve gotta fight and I’ve gotta implement boundaries and tools in my life to keep me healthy, because I want to be healthy. I know what life looks like when I don’t numb myself. I like that life and I want to stay on that, but it’s still something that I battle with.”
That battle will continue on for the rest of his life, of course. But as long as he takes things one day at a time, and moves forward one step at a time, he can continue to live his best life CLEAN and SOBER! Love it!
Ironically, Higgins also gave credit to his time on the hit ABC reality TV series as a pathway to be more open and honest about his life struggles in general. He admitted:
“The Bachelor gave me an insight into what vulnerability can do when done in an appropriate way. Sharing things that I’d never shared before, especially on national television, kind of opened me up to a whole new world. As I shared more and more about my life and my insecurities, it actually became the thing that connected me with others… That gave me a new seeded kind of confidence in being vulnerable. … And the Bachelor world, I guess in a weird way, prepares you for that. It’s a pretty negative space, so in a sense I’m glad that I’m the one that can somehow take some of that on because I think I’ve been prepped for it.”
He’s dead-right about the negativity of the Bachelor world… just saying! But more to the point, it’s amazing to see Ben open up so much — and reveal how far he’s come — after such a dark and painful past. Love to see that he’s thriving now! Mad respect to him for going through the process and battling addiction. That is a HUGE achievement.
BTW, you can watch his full Addiction Talk Like interview HERE. It’s powerful stuff, indeed, and hopefully can be of use to somebody else struggling and seeking inspiration and guidance! What are your reactions to Ben’s revelations here, Perezcious readers? Shocked? Surprised? Inspired that he’s strong and confident enough to come out and live honestly?
Share your reactions and more all down in the comments (below)…
[Image via FayesVision/WENN]