Sarah Allen Benton
Adversity: Sober from alcohol since 2004
Advocacy: Works with others struggling with addiction
“Advocacy reinforces that I need to continue to work on bettering myself and committing to my own recovery. If I’m not sober, I can’t be of service to other people.”
As a young adult, Sarah Allen Benton did everything she was supposed to: She graduated from high school, college and graduate school, and succeeded socially and professionally. But when she tried to stop drinking and couldn’t, she knew she needed help. Realizing her alcoholism was being masked by her professional and social success, Sarah, a therapist, felt conflicted. “I had always thought of alcoholics as people who didn’t have a job – someone who looked like an alcoholic,” she says. Soon after getting sober, she complied past journal entries about her drinking and interviewed addiction professionals and individuals of all ages struggling with alcoholism. “It showed me that I’m not alone,” she says.
When it came time to publish the book in 2004, Sarah was 27 and in recovery. “But I decided that if I couldn’t put myself out there around this issue, then how will the stigma and the shame ever go away?” She has since appeared in a multitude of media interviews, including The Today Show and The Oprah Winfrey Show, and she spends her time responding to emails from individuals around the world looking for advice or help. She is also an advocate in her professional life as a licensed mental health counselor for individuals struggling with substance abuse, an area of expertise she pursued after she got sober. “The important thing is to not feel alone, and that’s really what advocacy is about – reaching out and sharing your experiences,” she says.