Amber, who is the mom to 3-year-old Leah Shirley with ex-boyfriend Gary Shirley, sat down with Dr. Drew at the Rockville Correctional Facility in Indiana where she is currently her five-year sentence in for drug and probation violations.
Right away, the doctor noticed a change in the 22-year-old. She seemed more present and aware, and he asked her if she is more in tune with her feelings now that she’s not numbed up.
“Pretty much… I just have a lot of emotions right now,” she said, and then explained that since entering the prison in June, she was sent to stay in the therapeutic community, a separate in-prison housing for inmates who need rehab for drug addiction mental health needs.
Choosing prison over rehab
Even though the five-year sentence Amber was given seemed harsh at the time, the former drug addict said it was what she needed since rehab clearly wasn’t working.
“When I was in treatment, I wasn’t getting anything out of it,” she said. “I was still doing drugs, I moved to harder drugs.” Amber said she started taking fentanyl patches, which are gel patches of concentrated high-dose pain medication — Dr. Drew said it is extremely easy to overdose and die on the drug.
Amber said she had her wakeup call when she went in for a drug screening, but was still on a fentanyl patch. She realized she was just 22 years old and was wasting her life away not caring — even daughter Leah Shirley didn’t seem like a priority for the drug addict.
“It’s not that you don’t love your child, you’re a very selfish person when you’re on drugs,” she said.
“I knew I was going to die,” Amber added about what she thought would happen if she didn’t get treatment. So she asked the judge to send her to prison so she could finally get serious about getting better.
Last chance for Leah
Although Amber hasn’t seen her daughter yet since being in jail, she is working hard to create a better life so that when she gets out, she’ll be a better mother. It’s clear Amber misses being with her daughter and still harbors a lot of guilt for being in jail.
“I feel like she’s forgetting about me,” Amber said. “I know she’s not, but you have to physically have somebody there and I’m not there for her.”
Dr. Drew reminded her that even when she was physically present, Amber wasn’t there emotionally because she was so loaded on drugs — and Amber knows deep down she’s on the right path.
“I feel like [Leah] would have had a lot more resentment against me if I kept going the way I was,” she said of her choice to stay in jail. “This is my last chance. I care a lot more now.”
What she’s learned
Amber is currently enrolled in courses to earn her GED and for anger management, and has had a lot of time to reflect on her past decisions. She actually cares for her well-being for the first time in her life.
“I feel like I’m doing something for me, other people have seen changes in me,” she said. “I’m not as angry, not as depressed.”
Amber also said she’s learning self worth and self control, and hopes to never go back to the dark place we saw in front of the Teen Mom cameras. Although if given the chance, she would do it all over again, starting with 16 & Pregnant.
“I would be able to help more people, and that makes me happy,” she said about her decision to go on reality TV. “I value my story a lot and I have a lot to give. I still have a lot to learn, but I have a lot to give, too.”
What did YOU think of the interview HollyMoms? Do YOU think Amber is going to change for the better?
More Amber Portwood news:
- Why Baby Leah Thinks Mom Amber Portwood Is In Jail
- Amber Portwood: Turning Her Life Around In Jail For Daughter Leah
- Gary Shirley: Keeping Leah From Amber Portwood Is Damaging — Experts Say