Former Miss USA Tara Conner Opens Up About Getting Sober

By McCarton Ackerman 11/21/14

Conner has been sober for seven years and is now hoping to help others in their battle with addiction.

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Former Miss USA Tara Conner had her battle with addiction made very public when she was called out by Donald Trump in 2006, but she is now hoping to help others win their battle with drugs.

Conner has now been sober for over seven years and recently spoke at the 15th anniversary celebration of Greenville County drug court in South Carolina. Although it was a positive test for cocaine that made headlines, alcohol and prescription painkillers were her true weaknesses. She took up to 30 pills per day at her lowest point and admitted to being high during most of her pageants on the way to the Miss USA title.

“I don't think any of us wake up and say being an addict sounds like a great idea. My idea of an alcoholic was the old man that lived under the bridge drinking out of his paper sack, and I think that's what the nation's idea is of an alcoholic is,” she said. “It wasn’t that I was a bad person trying to do better. I was a sick person trying to get well." 

After her parents’ divorce and the death of her grandfather, Conner turned to drinking to numb the pain. She moved into prescription painkiller and her admittedly reckless behavior continued until she tested positive eight months into her Miss USA reign.

Founder Donald Trump held a press conference and many expected her to be stripped of the crown, but he announced that she would be given a second chance. She entered an inpatient rehab program at the Caron Foundation and now works for them as their public advocacy consultant.

Despite years of sobriety under her belt, Conner acknowledges that it’s still a daily process and that she’s learned to forgive herself for that. “I have to stay very honest with what I’m feeling. I still have alcoholic thinking,” said Conner. “I give myself a little grace sometimes and say, 'You know what?  You are doing the best job that you can.'”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.