Profiles in Recovery

Erin Bahadur

An honor student who completed college in three years, Bahadur was skilled at hiding her growing drug addiction. She progressed from alcohol and marijuana to painkillers, street drugs and eventually, shooting heroin.

After serving nine months in jail for stealing narcotics, Bahadur transformed her life in recovery. She’s held two successful jobs, paid back over $20,000 in credit card debt, mended relationships, bought a car and found love. Today she shares her journey to support others in recovery.

Day Job:
Certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor, healthy living blogger

At my worst, I was:
Driving two hours a day to Baltimore and asking random people on the streets where I could find heroin.

I was barely getting by in pharmacy school and also drinking by myself every night to the point of falling over and passing out in my apartment. I think serving extended jail time fits in here as well.

What I lost to addiction:
My career, my friends, and my freedom. I lost my integrity and self-respect, as well as the trust of many people close to me.

My rock bottom moment:
Losing everything I had built. I lost my career in pharmacy, was expelled from grad school after 3 years, and sentenced to 12 months in jail, restitution, community service, and 5 years of probation.  I realized that I had two decisions to make about where I wanted my life to go and thankfully I chose this one.

Advice to my younger self:
Ask for help.  Know that you are enough just the way you are and that there is no such thing as perfection.  Learn how to deal with emotions so that you don’t have to run from them with drugs and alcohol.

Favorite recovery quote:
“Progress, not perfection.”

What I learned about myself:
I’m much stronger than I think and that if I really want something, I’m going to work hard until I get it!

Stigma I faced:
When I was released from jail, I was unable to find a job for three months because of my theft record despite having outstanding references from before my addiction took hold. I was finally able to get a job as a receptionist when they didn’t look much at my background and I showed that I was a great employee from that point on.

What worked for me:
Losing everything.  I needed to lose it all for me to be willing to make a change.  I had tried, and failed, several times before.  But it took me losing my career and being charged with multiple felonies to realize that I had to make a decision about which direction I wanted my life to go.

I entered rehab and was willing to do whatever it took to turn things around. I knew if I didn’t, I’d likely end up dead.

Proudest moment:
Being invited to speak at the national conference of NADDI – National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators in Orlando. I was able to share my story and help break the stigma surrounding what addicts look like.

Best advice for newbies:
Ask for help and find a supportive community. I don’t think I would have been able to stay clean if it weren’t for people who knew what I was going through and what I should do next. That was vital in my recovery.

Follow Bahadur:  on Twitter @erinsinsidejob.  Or at

Shed the Stigma:
If you’re a person in long-term recovery who wants to share your insights, please contact us at [email protected].