Local woman strives to inspire others to confront addictions

Amber Leone Murphy was eight years old when a family member gave her a sip of beer from a pink plastic cup.

She liked the feeling this gave her, so she would sneak sips of beer left over in cans from her mother’s parties when she had the chance.

Amber Leone Murphy, 32, of Blaine took her first sip of beer when she was eight years old and would later begin to drink heavily in her teen years to early adult life. Since she took her last drink when she was 24 years old, she has turned around her life and is now sharing her story with others battling addictions with the hope of inspiring them to take the path of recovery. Submitted photo

Amber Leone Murphy, 32, of Blaine took her first sip of beer when she was eight years old and would later begin to drink heavily in her teen years to early adult life. Since she took her last drink when she was 24 years old, she has turned around her life and is now sharing her story with others battling addictions with the hope of inspiring them to take the path of recovery. Submitted photo

“I remember actually having a warm feeling of a buzz and I wanted more of it,” she said.

Murphy, 32, of Blaine became a heavy drinker when she was 13 years old after her grandmother died.

In high school, other parents did not want their kids to hang out with her because she was a bad influence.

She graduated from an acting school in New York City, but was so hung over all the time that she missed auditions and her acting career never took off.

The turning point in her life came when a friend tried to kiss her at a party even though she was engaged. For the first time in a long time while drinking, she was aware of what was happening and went home to avoid ruining her life.

“Honestly, for the first time I was present and knew that I was going to sabotage everything if I continued to live like this,” Murphy said.

Since her sobriety date started Nov. 7, 2005, she has become an entrepreneur. In November 2008 she was featured in Signature L.A.’s Magazine as L.A.’s Top 40 Under 40 in recognition of a mentorship company she founded.

After she moved back to Minnesota in 2011, living in Fridley, Ramsey and now Blaine, she started sharing her story at recovering addicts meetings and she counseled people over the phone when she was not at her full-time administrative job in the healthcare field. Murphy had also suffered codependency and gambling addictions.

In May 2013, she started three blogs called “Can’t Keep a Sober Girl Down,” “Can’t Keep a Codependent Girl Down” and “Can’t Keep a Passionate Girl Down.”

Murphy began these blogs for self-healing, but soon started getting questions from women and some men from all over the world. One South African woman asked her how she could get her father to stop drinking.

She recently completed a book titled, “Crushing Codependency” and is waiting on a green light with a publishing company to have her book titled, “Daily Letters for My Sober Sisters” published. She is represented by Marilyn Allen of the Allen O’Shea Literary Agency in Connecticut.

Murphy is also working on developing a seminar series to empower women in recovery from an addiction to live their best life.

“For a lot of people, we relate when we hear people tell their story,” Murphy said.

The dark road to alcoholism

Murphy was nine years old when her mother became sober after being an alcoholic for years. Her biological parents never married and she did not consistently see her biological father until she was 16 years old.

They lived at the Blaine Manor apartment complex until she was 11 years old. Her stepfather was a manager with Schwan’s and he was re-located whenever another location needed his expertise. They moved to Missoula, Mont., when she was 11 years old, to Grand Junction, Colo., her junior year in high school and Garland, Texas, for her senior year.

She became accustomed to not settling down and moved between Andover, Savannah, Ga., New York City, Los Angeles, Whidbey Island in Washington, and then back to Los Angeles, to Oklahoma and back to Minnesota in 2011.

The turning point came when she was 13 years old, after her grandmother who lived in Minnesota died. She thought the buzz she felt after those sips of beer would make her feel better.

She did a good job hiding her growing addiction from her family aside from a couple of incidents such as when her mother called the police when her 15-year-old daughter came home drunk.

“I was mischievous. Parents hated me,” she said.

Murphy lost her Minnesota driver’s license at the age of 19 after getting a DWI on Coon Rapids Boulevard. She decided to move with a friend in Savannah, Ga., so she could hang out on the beach, bodyboard, check out hot guys and get drunk. She started using marijuana again after having tried it when she was 14 and 15 years old.

Six months after living in the “Peach State,” Murphy on a whim embarked on a trip to “The Big Apple” to pursue her dream career in acting.

Murphy’s low-point in her alcoholism happened in New York City when she was raped after a party. She had blacked out and woke up to find a guy laying on top of her.

This was not enough to shock her into becoming sober. She continued to drink when she moved to Los Angeles in 2004 for about nine months to give another go at acting. An old friend who worked at a U.S. Navy base on Whidbey Island in Washington encouraged her to move in with him and they soon became engaged.

Although they are no longer married, her love for him and desire to start fresh is why she backed away from her friend who tried to kiss her and left a party where she took her last drink ever Nov. 6, 2005.

It had already been a rough week for her. She had quit her job in Seattle, Wash., because she was tired of making the one-way, 90-mile drive every day after long nights of drinking. She had spent so much on alcohol and had so little income from not having a steady job that she declared bankruptcy.

All of this led her at the age of 24 to take a different road.

Turning her life around

Murphy loves the written word. After she put down the bottle, she picked up as many books as she could from the library.

She had internships with literary agencies in New York City, so she created her own agency that caught the attention of an agency in Los Angeles. She and her husband moved to Los Angeles and she packaged scripts and met with producers.

After losing her job during the writer’s strike in 2007 she went to work for actor Sean Astin and his wife to watch over their three children and run errands when they were out of town.

“It was an amazing experience. (Sean) was so motivational. He helped a lot of people and I think that motivated me too,” Murphy said.

The young entrepreneur tried out a nanny placement business and then a venture to connect people with mentors. “My Fabulous Mentor” partnered with the University of Southern California and appeared to have a bright future, but failed to come together after she did not speak at a red carpet event because she had stage fright. She joined a local Toastmasters group to get over her fear of speaking in public.

After a brief stay in Oklahoma, where she worked at buying and flipping houses with other investors, she moved back to the Twin Cities in 2011.

Murphy said her goal is to empower others to choose a healthier lifestyle, which is why she wants to write books and share her story with large groups through her blogs and speaking engagements.

“The only thing I know for sure that keeps people sober — me in particular — is service work, helping and serving others,” Murphy said. “You also need to have faith in a higher power and the willingness to show up in the world.”

Eric Hagen is at eric.hagen@ecm-inc.com

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