Amber Portwood: "Teen Mom" out of Prison ... Now What?
December 20, 2013
After spending 17 months behind bars, MTV Teen Mom alum Amber Portwood, 23, opens up exclusively to Dr. Phil in her first post-prison television interview. The former reality star talks candidly about her struggles with addiction and anger issues — and shares her plans for the future. Does she think she can be a good mom to her 5-year-old daughter, Leah? Plus, Dr. Phil has some big surprises for one very deserving foster mom!
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Life Out of Control
In 2009, Amber Portwood and her then-boyfriend, Gary, welcomed their daughter, Leah, into their lives — and the lives of the viewing public — on MTV's reality TV show 16 & Pregnant and later, the follow-up series, Teen Mom. The cameras and the world saw a lot from Amber and Gary, especially an insight into their tumultuous relationship. In two different episodes in 2010, Amber was seen violently slapping, punching, choking and kicking Gary — one time, in front of their daughter, which got the attention of authorities. In December 2010, Amber was arrested on three counts of domestic battery and held in jail for 24 hours. She pleaded not guilty and was released on $5,000 bail, but the reality star's troubles didn't end there.
Gary was eventually awarded full custody of Leah, and Amber was again arrested in December 2011 for several probation violations, including being found with prescription pills and failing a urine test and lying about it. In February 2012, she shocked many when she decided to quit her court-ordered rehab and choose a five-year prison sentence instead. After serving only 17 months of that sentence, Amber was released early for good behavior on November 4, 2013, and now she finds herself starting over.
"Death or Prison"
"This got so bad for you that in June 2011, I know you had a failed rehab, and you tried to take your own life," Dr. Phil says. "Did you really want to die?" he asks.
"I didn't care," Amber replies. "If I woke up, great. If I didn't, that was all right too," she says. "I didn't care. I knew the amount of pills I was taking was crazy." Amber explains that at the time, she wasn't allowed to see Leah — and says that she didn't think she had anything left to live for. "In my life then, what I thought was that everything had turned to *," she confides. "I had nothing anymore. What am I even here for?"
"People had no idea how bad this was at the time for you — how deep into this you were," Dr. Phil continues.
"I was pretty good at masking it with people around me, but it wasn't good," Amber agrees. "I had done 60 days in rehab in Malibu. At this time, I was in drug court, which is a rehab through the courts in your county," she explains. "I was still using, and I was actually using worse," she insists. Amber explains the lengths she would go to in order to get high, including eating topical patches of a narcotic pain reliever. "I know, it sounds crazy," she says. "It sounds crazy to me now too, but back then, it was normal, I guess."
"I have a lot of goals in life. Right now, I’m really working toward my future," Amber says. She explains that she plans to start college in January and says she's also partnered up with Never Too Late, an upcoming social campaign focused on helping people overcome addiction. "It's about how it doesn't matter what your past is or where you've been," she says. "You can always change. You can always accomplish what you want to accomplish."
"If you knew then what you know now, would you have done those shows?" Dr. Phil asks Amber.
"Yes," she replies. "It just would have been different."
"I've always said, 'Life is managed; it's not cured,'" Dr. Phil says. He continues, "If you have something to move toward, which is your future with Leah and all of the things you can share with her, that gives you a reason to get up and get high on her — instead of something else."
A Deserving Foster Mom
Kaylee, 23, says that at the age of 14, she was addicted to meth, pills, marijuana and alcohol. She says she was kicked out of multiple rehab and detention centers and was such a troubled teen that no one in four counties would take her in — except for one foster mother, Arlene, who never gave up on her. "Arlene showed me that she loved me and cared about me, and that showed me that it was OK to love myself and care about myself," Kaylee says. "Arlene is my guardian angel."
Kaylee says she is now happily married with two children, and insists that she owes her life to Arlene. She explains that Arlene has been a foster mother for almost 40 years and has helped over 100 kids just like her — even taking in two teens while she was battling cancer last year. She says Arlene is currently fostering four teenage boys and working hard to make ends meet. "Arlene is definitely the most selfless person I know," Kaylee says. "She always puts herself and her needs last. Sometimes her needs don't get met, because they're last."
Dr. Phil explains that Kaylee wrote a letter asking if Arlene could sit in the audience, because she's a big fan of the show. But he says that after hearing about Arlene's work as a foster mom, he wanted to meet her.