A former Miss USA is speaking out about her addiction to drugs and alcohol, and the impact that recovery has had on her life.
Tara Conner, now 29, won the Miss USA competition in 2006. However, when reports of underage drinking and drug abuse came to light, she was urged to enter rehab. That set a new direction for the beauty queen's life.
“Alcoholism is a disease, not a moral failing,” she said in an interview with the Yakima Herald. “I always felt so different and so alone and so unlovable. Even though I was lovable – I just didn't feel that way. I was introduced to recovery and it changed my life.”
Conner grew up in rural Kentucky, where there was little discussion of alcoholism or addiction.
“We didn't have a lot of awareness of what alcoholism or drug addiction was. I think that where I come from it looks like the old man who lives under the bridge or the man who is homeless.”
Conner told the paper that the owner of the Miss Universe competition – presidential candidate Donald Trump – was understanding of her problem.
“He helped save my life,” she said. “He had a brother who died of alcoholism, and I think he could see something in my that others couldn't, and that was helpful in my case. I'll always be grateful for what he did.”