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Rachael Clark: "I Needed to Change My Life"

"I was trying to find a way out of my bad feelings. It got so bad that I finally surrendered,” says Rachael Clark of Napa, a onetime city council candidate and former substance abuser who has been clean and sober for more than four years.

Rachael Clark is bubbly, energetic, passionate and most important of all — she's happy.

The 43-year-old Napa woman, a onetime candidate for Napa City Council who is known to many for her outspoken opinions on community issues, says she has overcome the substance abuse that once plagued her life and is back on the right track.

Clark has been clean and sober for four and half years. “I’m in recovery and very involved in my 12-steps program,” she said. “The support I have received from my support groups saved me and continues to guide me.”

Clark said her “disease” spiraled out of control in 2009 while going thorough a “nasty separation from a 15-year intimate relationship.”

“We had it all — the house, the boat, the clothes, the cars and other luxuries, but the addiction got out of hand,” she said.

“We lost it all. The house went into foreclosure, our relationship was a wreck and the substance abuse was increasing,” she said.

“It wasn’t the drinking so much, but other substance abuse that was causing the damage. I was trying to find a way out of my bad feelings. It got so bad that I finally surrendered.”

Clark found a drug abuse program through the . But it took determination to get the help she needed.

“I went there every day for two weeks and waited to get into the program. They were full and didn’t have room for me,” she said.

“Finally one of the intake people said, ‘Look, she has been here every single day for the last two weeks. We need to find a place for her.’” And they did.

Clark also enrolled in a 12-step program.

“I went to a meeting and liked what I heard. I got the help, experience and support I needed to change my life,” she said. “I was tired of being the person I was, not being true to myself.”

It was from there that Clark started becoming the person she is today.

“I had one setback. The first month, I was clean for 30 days, then blew it.

"But setbacks happen. I didn’t let it discourage me. I came back to my support group, and they all still loved me. It made me even more determined to fight my disease.”

Clark admits the early days of treatment were challenging: "It’s not just a matter of not using, it’s also a lifestyle change.”

Clark said she could have moved away, but that would have accomplished little.

“I still would have to face the addiction no matter where I was.”

Clark encourages anyone with an addiction to seek help.

“It’s out there. You just have to ask, and you won’t be turned away. You don’t have to live a life dependent on substance abuse.”

An unsuccessful candidate for city council in 2004, Clark remains active in the community.

She is involved with Leadership Napa Valley, Napa Porchfest and local education groups. She runs her own event planning business in Napa and said she is training for the general manager position of a soon-to-open restaurant in the area.

Clark credits her grandmother, a former librarian in Marin County, for her sense of community commitment.

“When I was little I would help my grandmother at the library. The whole atmosphere was like a community. People discussed politics, community issues. It gave me a sense of commitment to my community, and I have carried that through my life,” Clark said.

Clark would not confirm if she plans to run for city council again.

“I probably will, but I can’t say for sure. It’s an election year. I am anxious to see what happens with our officials.”

As for the future? “My possibilities are endless,” Clark said with a wide grin.

John L. Poole March 09, 2012 at 04:01 PM
It takes courage to admit one's foibles; it takes commitment to overcome them. Together, these traits are the ingredients for leadership. Brava!
Jeffrey Wright March 09, 2012 at 04:06 PM
Thanks for sharing your story Rachael , and yes your energy and your passion are contagious !! Love ya and keep up the good work ......
Vanissa March 09, 2012 at 04:19 PM
Good Job Rachael! I am glad you got the help you needed, it takes a strong person to admit he or she has a problem. I do hope you run for city council because you will stand up for what the Napa people want. Good luck in whatever your dreams are.
Marsha Dorgan March 09, 2012 at 04:33 PM
After interviewing Rachael, I felt so up lifted. Her story gives courage to those who feel they are at a dead end. You go girl!!!!
Rachael Clark March 09, 2012 at 05:01 PM
I was a little hestitant in telling this story however it is the truth and my experience may help others. I wouldn't change a thing. Thank you Napa Patch for sharing my story :)
Mike Treleven March 09, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Rachel, Nice profile today. I've known her for several years, but this is a nice look into a passionate person I;ve only known casually. I'd like to talk to you about being sober. Lets do coffee when you have time. Good luck, your a a great person inside and outside.
Cecilia Lyons March 09, 2012 at 05:37 PM
You are truly an inspiration!
Maura Schulz March 09, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Wonderful! Thanks for putting yourself out there and for always being an example of how people can change and save their own lives. You are an inspiration!
Ray Sisemore March 09, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Proud of you girl! Ray S.
L March 09, 2012 at 07:52 PM
Rachael, I would vote for you! I think we should have a representative for ALL of our community members. I think you would bring a view and courage that this town could benefit from. -Leticia C
Rachael Clark March 10, 2012 at 06:57 AM
Just a little comment, I got clean in 2007 and I "attended NA meetings" where I found a new way of life. Also "unsuccesful candidate?" I think not.. I was able to bring light to issues to our City Council and leaders during the election season :) New street lights, more motorcycle officers, sidewalk improvements.. the list goes on :)
Wayne Morin Jr June 22, 2012 at 12:01 AM
Great story.
Louisa Hufstader (Editor) June 22, 2012 at 12:29 AM
Rachael's an inspiration. And Wayne, good to hear from you, is there any chance you can post under the same name you use on Napa TV so everyone knows they are hearing from an expert?

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