Below Deck Star Opens Up About Addiction: It ‘Robbed My Life’


Getty This photograph taken on September 28, 2022, shows a moored yacht at the Hercules Port in Monaco during the 31st edition of the International Monaco Yacht Show.

Captain Sandy Yawn from “Below Deck Mediterranean” has been open before about her past struggles with addiction and recently hit the 33-year mark in her sobriety.

In an interview with “Addiction Talk” by American Addiction Centers, Yawn spoke in more detail about her past and the moment that marked a turning point for her and set her down the path of sobriety. She shared that her struggles with alcohol addiction got so bad that people gave up on her, including one halfway house director and a sponsor who said, “I can’t help you.”

Yawn explained that she had a sponsor who told her, “Sandy, sponsoring you is hurting me, because every time you go out, I worry about you… I can’t help you clearly,” Yawn recounted. She also shared a story of walking into a halfway house and the director telling her, “You’re not worth the paperwork. Every time you come in, I do all this paperwork and you relapse.” She told listeners that was in 1989 and that stayed with her. She added:

I was in a halfway house and begged her to let me back in because I had relapsed. And I thought, ‘I’m not worth the paperwork?’ I hadn’t had anyone tell me that. So that was my final time relapsing was that day when she told me that.

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Captain Sandy Said the Word ‘Paperwork’ Was the Kick She Needed to Stop Relapsing

Anchored by Sobriety: A Captain's Voyage to RecoveryHow did Below Deck Mediterranean’s Captain Sandy Yawn take on 33-years of sobriety? Get the scoop on her recovery journey from alcoholism this Wednesday, September 28 at 7PM ET on YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter LIVE!2022-09-29T11:36:04Z

Captain Sandy explained on the talk show that the conversation with the halfway house director is what got her on her path to sobriety and her use of the word “paperwork” stayed with her. “I can understand if a sponsor says ‘you hurt me, it hurts me trying to help you,’ I get that,” she explained. “But filling out paperwork and I don’t know what it was, it was that psychic change.”

The “Below Deck Med” captain returned to the halfway house each day and “begged” to be able to return. She explained:

It was a place called Stepping Stones in Fort Lauderdale. I kept going back and eating free lunches and dinners, she didn’t kick me out. I still got to eat there.

And she said, ‘You give me your paycheck every week.’ I got $10 a week to live on… I had to give her my paycheck every week cause she knew my paycheck was my relapse. And I lived in that halfway house for six months.

Yawn said she has been completely sober from drugs and alcohol since that moment and she’s now “clean.”

Yawn Also Spoke About Her Childhood & When She Started Using

During the same interview, Yawn elaborated on her childhood and teenage years, explaining that she began using at the age of 13. She said marijuana was her “gateway drug” and alcohol was her go-to drug. Captain Sandy said she ended up smoking crack cocaine and “lost everything.” By the age of 17, she was arrested for drinking and driving and was ordered to detox by the court.

“Addiction robbed my life,” she said, and explained that her court-ordered detox made her see that there was a “way out” but she still didn’t know how to get out. “It was easy for me to stop but it was hard for me to stay stopped,” she explained, adding that between 17 and 25 she relapsed hundreds of times.

Yawn told the host Joy Sutton that she would never be where she is now if she’d continued using. “I’d probably be dead by now,” she shared candidly. The superyacht captain said she wasn’t sure why her life was spared so many times and was “hit by cars” and involved in several car crashes. “I’ve been arrested 14 times,” she confessed and said she’d been in detox centers and halfway houses throughout Florida.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). It is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.

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