The dark days of her past are long over, but former Miss USA Tara Conner has not forgotten who opened the door to a better life — President Donald Trump.
From Western Journalism
“I credit President Trump for giving me the opportunity of treatment,” she told Fox News on Friday.
Conner made headlines in 2006 when, after winning the Miss USA contest, she tested positive for cocaine. Rather than abide by the strict rules of the pageant, Trump did not take her crown away, but supported her rehabilitation.
“I became famous as ‘Mess USA’ when my boss — now the president of the United States — tossed me into rehab after I tested positive for cocaine,” she wrote in an op-ed for USA Today.
“Rather than strip me of my crown or add to the negative press with a humiliation campaign, Donald Trump surprised me, and shocked the world, when he held a news conference and declared: ‘Tara is going to be given a second chance,’” she wrote.
Trump’s failure to destroy her life was the turning point that brought her back, she said.
“Donald Trump had a choice. He could have fired me or he could have given me an opportunity to get help, and thank God he chose to give me that opportunity because it was a huge step forward to the recovery movement,” she said.
“I believe he saw the good in me and had a deeper understanding of what I was dealing with, having lost a brother to alcoholism,” she said.
Conner is now campaigning for expanded treatment for those with addiction.
“I feel as though every American should be afforded the same opportunity that I was given. Addiction is a progressive disease, and substance misuse is the leading cause of death for those 50 and under,” she said.
“These issues are so important to me because when I got sober, I faced the stigma of addiction and mental illness head-on. I was a walking target, and even now, over a decade sober, I still get shamed on a daily basis,” she said.
Conner said addiction is not a moral condition, but a physical one.
“I’ve said this many times before, but I wasn’t a bad person that needed to be good. I was a sick person that needed to get well,” she said. “My addiction was in full force at 14 years old. My brain wasn’t fully developed, yet people were claiming that I chose that life.”