- “Bachelor” star Ben Higgins is opening up about his past painkiller addiction for the first time.
- Higgins told Insider he was addicted for painkillers for four years after a knee injury.
- He took up to seven Vicodin pills a day and once stole painkillers from his grandfather.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Ben Higgins has been opening up about his past struggles with painkiller addiction, but “The Bachelor” star told Insider that some of the response he’s seen to his story has been “disheartening.”
“There was an outlet that had posted a picture of me with a headline about my struggles and the comments were really hard to read,” he said. “They were like, ‘He’s just trying to stay relevant, he’s just trying to stay in the news.’ Talking about addiction feels like a weird way to try and stay relevant.”
Higgins said he’s opening up about his four-year addiction — in which he sometimes took up to seven Vicodin pills a day — to try and help people feel less alone as the opioid crisis continues to rage across America.
“There’s a lot of people out there hurting and feeling isolated, a lot of people we know and love,” he continued. “Isn’t it the time, now more than ever, to start talking about it so that it’s not taboo? So that it isn’t something we feel we have to push aside, but something we can confront together and work through together?”
Higgins said he wanted the book to give a “true and vulnerable look into my life,” and he knew that meant it had to include his past struggles with addiction.
“I knew I had to dig out some things that, previously, I wasn’t okay talking about for whatever reason, be that guilt, shame, or disappointment,” he continued. “I knew that speaking out and speaking up on this would maybe help myself — and somebody else listening — just feel less alone, and that’s why I wanted to do it.”
Ben Higgins’ painkiller addiction began after an injury on the football field in high school
Higgins was a junior when his knee was severely injured during a game. He was prescribed painkillers for a year as he underwent two surgeries. As a teen he had dreamed of playing football in college, it was his entire identity. But he knew he’d never be able to play the sport in the same way again.
“It was a ripping away of what I thought life was going to become because of something unexpected,” he said. “I’d had these dreams and expectations, and they were no longer. I just felt purposeless, I didn’t really know what my meaning or my value was.”
“At first the painkillers were necessary for the pain, then over time they became a supplement to help numb myself from the emotional struggles I was going through in life,” the former reality star added.
Once his prescription ran out, Higgins found ways to get painkillers through “any avenue I could” for the next four years.
Stealing pills from his grandfather served as a wake-up call for Higgins
One day, Higgins stole pain pills from his own grandfather, which he said was a turning point in his addiction journey.
“I’m not an expert on addiction, but I imagine there’s a moment for everybody that kind of opens their eyes to the pain that they’re causing themselves and others,” he said. “That was kind of the moment that stirred a spark inside me of guilt and shame.”
Higgins said he finally recognized that the painkillers were controlling his life.
“For a long time I was telling myself it was okay, that it was just for fun, it was just recreation, it was just experimental,” he added. “And at that point I realized I had a problem. It was an awakening that I was hurting the people closest to me, hurting myself, and willing to go to drastic lengths to put this thing above them.”
Higgins, who has been sober for the last nine years, said he has since learned how to “confront pain head on.”
“I no longer give myself the option to numb,” he added. “I force myself to sit inside of the pain and to work through that place of healing. It’s allowed me to build grit and not to run away and not to escape from stuff that’s in my heart and my mind and my soul. It’s allowed me to feel more alive, so it’s been beautiful in that way.”
Higgins said his time on ‘The Bachelor’ also helped him find the courage to speak out about his past struggles
Ben Higgins on “The Bachelor.”
Rick Rowell/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images
“I do credit the show for giving me three months to sit alone in my thoughts,” he said of his time in the reality dating show franchise.
“As I sat in those thoughts I was able to process and heal and, in a sense, learn to understand myself better and love myself better,” he added. “It was a huge chapter in my life for growth and opening up.”
The Insidexpress is now on Telegram and Google News. Join us on Telegram and Google News, and stay updated.