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Miss USA Tara Conner: I Dabbled in Cocaine

NEW YORK — Miss USA Tara Conner, who nearly lost her crown for hard-partying in New York nightclubs, says in the upcoming issue of People magazine that her recent stint in rehab was a wake-up call.

“I didn’t think I had an issue _ but I was willing to do anything to save my job. … I’ve realized that I suffer from the disease of alcoholism and addiction,” says Conner, who logged in 31 days at the Caron Foundation rehab center in Wernersville, Pa.

“I was an equality-opportunity (user) _ I would try anything once,” Conner, 21, tells the magazine in its Feb. 12 issue.

At a much-publicized press conference in December, Donald Trump, who owns the Miss USA pageant, said the contrite Conner could hold onto her crown if she changed her ways. She then entered rehab.

In her interview in People magazine, her first since leaving treatment, Conner admits that she’s dabbled in cocaine.

“Cocaine was one of the drugs that I did use,” she says. “It’s hard to look back at that.”

Alcohol, though, was her biggest vice.

“I’m an alcoholic. It was a craving thing _ once I put it in my body, I would start craving more,” says Conner, who notes she drank heavily but wasn’t “getting sloppy drunk and dancing on tables.”

As for reports that her wild ways also included promiscuity, she says, “I would talk to more than one guy at once _ it doesn’t mean that I was sexually active with every one of these people.”

The Kentucky native, who has a family history of alcoholism, says her problems “didn’t develop overnight.” And, she adds, “It wasn’t New York City’s fault.”

Her mother, Brenda Johnson, tells the magazine that Conner once showed up to school drunk when she was 14 _ the same year she won her first beauty pageant and her parents divorced.

Conner, who now lives with a chaperone, says she spends time reading instead of running around town. “I thought I needed to be around people, that I needed that acceptance,” she says.

She’s itching to return to her Miss USA duties.

“I just can’t wait to get back to work _ `I’m Miss U.S.A., my name is Tara Conner, and I’m happy to meet you,’ you know? Life is good.”


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