Cara Santana: Addiction Isn’t in Fashion

1 min read · 2 sections
Evidence-Based Care
Expert Staff

Who couldn’t use a little escape from reality? Whether you lose yourself in a riveting novel or binging a television series, going for a hike or getting physically active another way, leaving to-do lists behind for a few hours isn’t a bad thing. For some, however, escaping reality isn’t a simple on-off switch they can control. No, for some, escaping reality means suppressing their overwhelming stressors, thoughts, emotions, and traumas, and turning to drugs and alcohol to leave behind their reality—at least temporarily. Unfortunately, doing this repeatedly can lead to chronic misuse and addiction.


Addiction, Sobriety, and Celebrity

Joy Sutton, host of American Addiction Centers’ talk show, Addiction Talk, interviewed fashion designer and actress, Cara Santana. Sober for 18 years, Cara has flourished in Hollywood and beyond.

You may recognize her from the Starz premium cable series Vida or the Netflix series The Santa Clarita Diet. You can also catch her in her new movie Daughter of the Bride, which releases early next month. Or maybe you own one of her pieces. Cara also materialized her talents into her own eponymous clothing line three years ago with accessibly priced and size-inclusive fashions.Palm of man's hand holding a plastic packet of cocaine powder.

While she’s thriving now, Cara’s past paints a very different picture. As she found solace in escaping herself and hiding within the lives of the characters she portrayed, she discovered that she could subdue her insecurities, worries, and fears with cocaine and alcohol, which led to her addiction and near-death overdose.

Cara shares her inspiring story in this episode entitled: “The Art of Recovery: An Actress Steps Away from Addiction.”


Escapism and Being Myself

“Being able to create this other world, this fantasy, this ability to escape outside of myself was really impactful as a child,” Cara shares. “I grew up in a loving, wonderful household. My parents are still married to this day, but I always felt different.”

As Cara got excited about the arts and entertainment world, she discovered that she could actually make a career out of playing pretend. Her parents encouraged her creative aspirations, signing her up for theater camps and drama classes.

“The ability to play make-believe and to create fantasy allowed me to escape from that fear-based place,” the actress admits. “What I didn’t know at the time was that I was so uncomfortable being me. And that’s what ultimately led to me finding drugs and alcohol.”

The actress and designer described herself as a “sensitive little girl.” When she would hear news reports, such as the Oklahoma City bombing or Susan Smith, the mother who drowned her children, she would internalize the impact of these incidents. This caused her parents to question if something was [emotionally] wrong with her. The stories were sad and heartbreaking, but Cara seemed to take the incidents personally. When the pain built up within her, she escaped with acting and then eventually drugs and alcohol.

To learn more about Cara Santana’s journey to sobriety, watch this episode of Addiction Talk. If you find yourself struggling with a substance use disorder, please reach out for help today.


*Some of the wording from the interview was edited for clarity.

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