SALT LAKE CITY — Alcohol abuse can stem from many different issues that we all face on any given day but for one Utahn — it began after she was sexually abused as a child.
Tara Rees joined the Project Recovery podcast to recall how early childhood abuse and trauma created the groundwork for a life-altering alcohol addiction.
The beginning of abuse
Tara’s story of alcohol abuse can be traced back to when she was very young. She grew up with a single mom who worked full time. Tara was often babysat while her mother was away at work as so many kids are. But what happened next would alter her life forever.
She began to be physically assaulted at the young age of five by her babysitter. Her abuse would continue until her family would move after her mother married Tara’s step-dad.
“I just felt a little off. I didn’t know if it was me, if I was projecting something at that young age,” Tara described.
But Tara’s trauma would continue after their family moved to Las Vegas. While spending the night with a family acquaintance, Tara would be physically abused again.
“From the time I was five until we moved back to Morgan in seventh grade, I had a history of men … taking advantage of me,” she said.
Tara never understood why such horrible experiences were happening to her and the experiences began to take a toll on Tara’s mental health.
“I really just thought it was me. What am I projecting that these people are finding me,” Tara said. “I was insecure and I didn’t know where I fit it.”
An unfortunate childhood catches up to Tara
Tara’s early childhood trauma began to catch up with her as she began high school. To numb the pain she was feeling, she began to suffer from an eating disorder. Tara’s disease eventually got so bad that she had to be admitted to a treatment facility.
“I actually ended up going into a treatment facility in my junior year,” she described. “I was able to process and work through a lot of my past issues and I did okay. I felt really good when I left there.”
After she was able to get help, both physically and mentally, Tara began to thrive. She made the drill team senior year and was finally in a better place.
She was finally coming into her own as a young adult but a series of unfortunate life events would send Tara into a downward spiral.
Down the dark road of alcohol abuse
After graduating from high school, Tara would experience the loss of a child through miscarriage. In addition to the loss of her child, she also would lose her husband to suicide months later.
All of these setbacks added on top of each other proved to be too much. Tara retreated back to the same addictive behaviors as when she was younger. Instead of anorexia, Tara dove headfirst into alcohol abuse.
“You give up one addiction and find another one. Not all of them are good for you,” she said. “I started going to the bars. I started drinking every night and I was a mess. I don’t handle death very well and when I lost both of them, I just lost it.”
Tara began to drink heavily to numb the pain of her losses. Her addiction became so bad that she would often contemplate suicide.
“You’re either going to clean up, you’re going to die, or you’re going to end up in prison,” Tara described.
Tara’s road to recovery from alcohol abuse
So Tara started researching recovery centers that could help her with her alcohol abuse. After she found the right program, the real recovery began.
She began to adhere to a twelve-step program and found that the program quickly began to change her life. Now she’s two years sober and finding the joy of being able to overcome struggles that we all experience in life sober.
“I didn’t have to take a substance. I didn’t have to put alcohol in my body and I did that sober. Now I can find that euphoric feeling of having confronted [problems in life],” Tara described.
To learn more about Tara’s recovery from alcohol abuse, listen to the Project Recovery podcast
For more information on opioid prevention or if you or someone you know is struggling, you can find more information on Facebook, KSL TV, or Know Your Script. To hear more from Casey Scott and Dr. Matt Woolley, you can listen below or subscribe to the ‘Project Recovery’ podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get major podcasts.
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