Photo Credit: INFDaily.com
This week, Teen Mom star Amber Portwood was sentenced to five years in prison, after refusing to complete a court-ordered drug rehabilitation program. There was some speculation about whether she knew that "opting out" of rehab would mean jail time; even the prosecuting attorney said he didn't think Portwood realized what she was doing. But in a new interview with ABC News, the 22-year-old mother of Leah Shirley explained her rationale for choosing prison over rehab.
"In my situation, I felt in the program there were a lot of eyes on me. And it was very uncomfortable," Portwood said of her rehab program. "I was not using my anti-psych medication even. You know, I was very depressed, I was alone, I was bitter at everybody. I felt like that wasn't the life I wanted to live, I felt like I'd rather do my time, and get it over with, and make the best out of the situation that's been handed to me."
The reality star also revealed that she'd gotten so depressed recently that she'd made another attempt to take her own life. In June 2011, Portwood tried to hang herself and was saved by the intervention of her ex-boyfriend Gary Shirley. This time, she explained, she took a deliberate overdose of Suboxone, a drug used to treat addiction to opiates. After her suicide attempt failed, Portwood realized she'd hit rock bottom.
"There's nothing lower than trying to kill yourself. That's why it's probably hard to understand why I did what I did," she told ABC News. "But when you mentally know that, you're not right. You're 22, and you tried to take your life twice. And you're 22, and you're still here, you don't want to mess that up."
To hear Portwood tell it, she was so deeply trapped inside her own head that she wasn't getting any of the benefits of rehab.
"It wasn't just the program. It was the fact of being alone. It was personal," she recalled. "You know being alone, feeling like you're hopeless, you have nothing, feeling like an addict and you're never going to change, even though in your mind you're working so hard but every time you get to court it's not good enough."
It's clear that Amber Portwood desperately needs some kind of intervention, but to be honest, none of these sound like compelling reasons to choose incarceration over rehab. Prison isn't exactly renowned for making people feel less lonely, or less depressed. If anything, we'd imagine that being forcibly isolated from her family (including her young daughter, now in Gary Shirley's custody) would make Portwood's situation that much worse. Yet the reality star seems optimistic that she'll be able to turn her life around in prison.
"I'm not just going to sit," Portwood vowed. "I'm going to substance-abuse classes. I'm going to get my GED."
Hopefully prison will help Amber in the way that she hopes. At the very least, it will let her escape the intrusions of paparazzi and TV cameras for a while. Maybe an escape from reality TV is what she needs to get back to a better reality.