Mara: When Relapse is Part of the Recovery Process
For me, Mara always seemed to suffer from what we call “The Good Girl Syndrome.” She was attractive, smart, raised in a high-end Los Angeles suburb by parents, both professionals, who have had an enduring marriage. Her parents and sisters do not have addiction problems. There was nothing, other than genetics (both grandparents were alcoholics) to explain why Mara started drinking at the age of 10 and quickly graduated to recreational drugs and then pills and hard drugs.
“I was really shy,” she told Seth Isler in a recent interview. “I feel like I was born uncomfortable. People would look at me and say how cute I was, and I would just start crying. I was maybe an anxious child. I was just kind of born that way. So drinking and drugs really took the edge off.“ Mara first came to treatment at Malibu Beach Recovery Center in 2008. She stayed five weeks, which I have learned is enough time to stabilize but usually not long enough to learn the tools needed to sustain longterm sobriety. She moved to a sober living, was solidly sober for the next two years and then relapsed over a romance gone sideways. It was another two years before she picked up the phone and asked for help. By then she was so far gone that she crashed a rental car, spent five days in jail, overdosed at a Starbucks.
She was one of the first clients admitted to The Brentwood House, and in retrospect, I think that going through treatment in the company of other women was really important for Mara. She worked hard at Brentwood House, this time for 90 days, and committed herself to learning all the wisdom and tools the staff had to impart. She is now living independently, working and has a year of sobriety. She attends 12 Step meetings regularly, and occasionally leads panels at the Brentwood House to share her story with new clients. We are all rooting for her.