Log In

Reset Password

Miss USA's regrets over substance abuse

Former Miss USA Tara Conner

Miss USA 2006, Tara Connor, visited Bermuda through Caron Bermuda to share her challenges with substance abuse with students of Bermuda High School and guests from other high schools on May 17. Although Ms Connor may have appeared to have the dream celebrity life, her struggle with alcohol and drugs was anything but glamorous.Ms Connor emphasised her drug addiction story, showing that alcohol and drug use is not the solution to anxiety and turning to alcohol is not the answer for problems, even when it seems the people around you are. She was the visual image of a real life story to show drugs are not your friend.Ms Connor went on to say that when she was 14 she had her first drink at a senior party when on a trip for a cheerleader competition. She said she did this because she was feeling depressed and shameful because of rumours at school but also because she had to deal with the loss of her grandfather and the divorce of her parents. As life went on, she started gaining more problems and kept feeling depressed. She later started using crystal meth. Ms Connor said she felt she had to be perfect at everything to prove everyone wrong about her. In CADA’s 2011 survey of teens 13 to 18 years, 55 percent of teens said they had tried alcohol. Fortunately this is slightly less than the previous year.While Ms Connor was trying to be Miss Perfection, she was entering her first pageant as Miss Kentucky. Amazingly winning Miss Kentucky, Ms Connor went on to compete for the Miss USA crown. On the night of her crowning as Miss USA she had taken a drug and expressed her regret at missing the experience of the moment. “On the day I was crowned Miss USA, I could never remember being crowned or feeling the emotions of what I was supposed to feel when being crowned,” she said.MS Connor’s addiction was exposed when she failed a drug test for cocaine. She found herself facing losing her crown if she didn’t clean herself up. Her mentor, Donald Trump, was about to take her crown but he changed his mind, telling her “I believe in second chances, and sometimes it works when you give somebody a second chance.” He had faith in her to get clean because his brother had struggled with substance abuse.Caron Bermuda, a not-for-profit organisation, provides off-island residential treatment as well as on-island non-residential continuing care and group programmes at its Smith’s facility. Over 300 individuals have benefited from the services at Caron Bermuda since its inception in 2007. Caron also offers treatment scholarships.Connor is now free of drugs and alcohol and says she is happier and is now sharing her story to motivate students.