Actress Cara Santana Reveals Early Struggle with Cocaine Addiction

Well-known fashion icon and activist Cara Santana knew from a young age she wanted to be an actor. But the pull she felt to play different roles came from the same place that eventually dragged her deep into drug addiction.

My Life Was Being a Drug Addict

Cara’s experience with addiction took place in her teens, when she left her hometown of El Paso, TX, to pursue a career in acting in Los Angeles. She enrolled in a boarding school for performing arts.

While talking with American Addiction Center “Addiction Talk” host Joy Sutton, Cara said when she was acting or playing a character she felt freedom from having to be herself. “I liked the way I was able to just ‘escape’ being me.”

At 16 she was introduced to cocaine and said it only intensified that feeling. “I felt alive and alert and capable. It consumed me, I was addicted and had that mental obsession, right away.”

Soon she says she was using it constantly and spending $300 a day on her cocaine habit. “I hardly drew a sober breath for two years. The deeper I dove, the less I associated with people, so my life was being a drug addict.”

At the age of 18, Cara had a near-fatal drug overdose and ended up calling 911. “I knew I didn’t want to die and that this is not the end of my story.”

18 Years of Sobriety Brings Success for Santana

Now, Sober for almost 2 decades, Cara says she knows it takes a lot more than just stopping drugs and alcohol to make your life better. She credits going to AA meetings and working the 12-step program.

“The work must be done from the inside.  I had to discover the parts of me that I was uncomfortable with, the good, the bad, and be okay with who I am.”

Cara emphasizes that addiction can affect anyone. “Addiction is a disease that does not discriminate. It can be the suburban mom or high school track star.” In her case, it was a 16-year-old at an elite boarding school who was able to hide her daily addiction from everyone, including her parents.

Now, Cara has been sober for 18 years. She wants people to know you don’t have to struggle in silence there is support available. “You can recover and have a life beyond your dreams. The life I’m living is a direct result of sobriety.”

She is currently working on a film about the lives of New Yorkers with addiction and will be appearing in the upcoming comedy, “Daughter of the Bride,” that premieres February 3rd.

If you are struggling with addiction and looking for rehab in Orange County, Laguna can help kickstart your recovery.


Was this page helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is committed to delivering original, truthful, accurate, unbiased, and medically current information. We strive to create content that is clear, concise, and easy to understand.

Read our full editorial policy

While we are unable to respond to your feedback directly, we'll use this information to improve our online help.

The Best Place to Recover in Orange County
We are here to help you get sober and learn how to stay that way. Laguna Treatment Center is located in Orange County within easy reach of the entire Los Angeles metro. We are the premier chemical dependency recovery hospital in the OC. We offer safe medical detox, mental health support, and wellness programs.