Jasmin Malik’s Recovery Story

“After everything I’ve gone through, The Empowerment Center’s one of the best – actually – the best rehab program for women in Reno. If you stick through it, it really works,” declares Jasmin Malik.

Jasmin graduated from The Empowerment Center’ 5-month treatment program on June 11, 2023. She’s also the first graduate of Reno’s STAR program – a pre-trial initiative supporting individuals struggling with opiate addictions.

We’re excited to share Jasmin’s addiction story with you – as well as her accomplishments, new life, and recommendations for anyone considering getting clean. We’re so proud of everything she’s achieved, and can’t wait to see what’s next in her life journey!

jasmin malik holding a scallop plate wearing a chef's uniform

Meet Jasmin Malik

Jasmin Malik came from a big military family. She was born in Southern California and it was there where she spent most of her childhood. Like most military families, the Maliks moved around a lot – including a posting in Reno during Jasmin’s high school years. Her family felt happy, and normal.

Jasmin started smoking weed at 16, followed by drinking, coke, and other drugs when she encountered them at parties. She considers herself to be an alcoholic first. She got a DUI at 26, 4 years ago, and had a breathalyzer placed in her car. She quit drinking – but sometimes struggled to fall asleep. Her friend offered her Percocet, and it helped. She took them for a week, tried to stop, and experienced her first withdrawals. Jasmin realized her pills were laced and that she was addicted to fentanyl.

From here, Jasmin’s addiction to opiates began. She tried to get sober after six months, but couldn’t maintain it. She kept using to avoid the withdrawals. For a while, “Nobody knew that I was an addict, because it was hard to tell anyone,” Malik explains. As she lost weight, her struggles became harder to hide and she felt her life going downhill. She was selling drugs to support her addiction. And she was tired of it.

On Reno & Getting Arrested

At this point Jasmin was still living in Southern California, but her mom and best friend were in Reno. Ready for a fresh start, she got clean and made the move.

Arriving in Reno, Jasmin quickly realized that fentanyl was just as popular here as in Southern California. She still had trouble sleeping, and once again found solace in her drug of choice. All her money was going to fentanyl, she wasn’t paying her bills, and her mom soon recognized Jasmin had developed a problem.

Malik would wait until her mom was in the bathroom, and then she’d sneak out to go pick up. Last September, she got pulled over on a late night pick up. They searched her car – and arrested her.

“I always tell everyone that getting arrested was the luckiest thing for me, because I didn’t know how to get sober on my own,” Jasmin explains. From pre-trial, she became one of the first to join the STAR Program. The STAR program works with individuals struggling with opiate addiction during pre-trial. Participants plead guilty to misdemeanor charges, are placed on probation, and are supported by a multidisciplinary team including a probation officer, a licensed clinician, a peer support specialist, and a case manager.

jasmin malik graduating from reno's star program after completing addiction treatment at the empowerment center. wearing a button down shirt and holding a diploma, standing in front of a judge

Recovery at The Empowerment Center

When Jasmin told her team at STAR that she was ready to go to rehab, they helped her sign up for The Empowerment Center’s treatment program. Still, Jasmin wasn’t completely sure she wanted to be here. Starting out, she knew STAR required her to stay at TEC for 30 days, and that her mom wouldn’t allow her home unless she reached this mark. At the end of 30 days, her mom was away on vacation, so Jasmin needed to stay 2 more weeks before she could leave. And by the time her mom came back from vacation, Jasmin was making good progress in her recovery and knew staying in treatment for The Empowerment Center’s full 5-month program was the right path for her.

“It felt like an accomplishment because I was always the black sheep of my family. It just felt like something I needed to do. And after being able to learn everything, all the reasons why I had to keep going back to the same problem and habits, it really helped,” Jasmin recognized. She accredits TEC not only for helping her get sober, but for her success after graduating.

Jasmin’s Life Today

Within 6 months of getting sober, Malik moved into a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom fully furnished apartment. She paid off her car. She felt like she had everything she wanted back in her life. She was the 14th STAR program participant, the 1st STAR graduate, and is proud of what she’s achieved!

Jasmin’s experienced with working in kitchens, and during her stay at TEC she found a new job at a fine dinning restaurant. She was so successful here that within 3 months, she was promoted to one of the most challenging positions in the kitchen, cooking complex entrees. She enjoys her job and feels great about how fast she’s learned it. Since she earns more than she did at her old job at a casual restaurant chain, she doesn’t have to work as many hours and feels less stressed.

Today, Jasmin lives with her girlfriend Dominique. They met in recovery at The Empowerment Center, but took things slow and followed the rules. Together, they enjoy cooking meals at home and going out to eat at some of Reno’s best restaurants. They watch movies and learn new things on YouTube. Each holiday, they decorate their apartment and have had friends and family over for small, sober gatherings. Dominique used to bartend, and now that she’s in recovery from alcohol she enjoys making complex mocktails for their guests. Jasmin says, “I’ve gotten to a point that I don’t want to impress anyone anymore.” She’s happier focusing on herself and her personal goals.

Jasmin still meets with her Empowerment Center therapist, Karen, weekly.

jasmin malik standing outside of her apartment, with white walls and a turquoise door

What’s Next for Jasmin

In January, Jasmin began college at TMCC, working towards her AAS in Culinary Arts. She’s the first STAR program graduate to receive an educational scholarship, covering her 2.5 years of coursework in full. This semester, Jasmin’s schedule includes a combination of business and culinary classes. She’s continuing to work full time while in school.

While she’s enjoying her current fine dining job, in 5-10 years Jasmin hopes to open a food truck or restaurant, perhaps with her girlfriend. If they start with a food truck, they’d like to serve paninis, soups, and easy-to-eat hand foods. For their restaurant, they have bigger plans! They enjoy fantasizing about menus and restaurant names and look forward to running their own business – with Jasmin managing back-of-house and Dominique managing the front.

Advice for Those Considering Recovery

Jasmin recommends TEC (and we’re not just saying this…) to any woman looking for a safe, comfortable, and supportive place to go.

While at first Malik felt nervous about having to be on a schedule, follow rules, and go to class, she ultimately found it to be helpful for her. She liked the space she shared with her roommate and that it included amenities like a Smart TV, fridge, and microwave – as well as access to a shared kitchen and the ability to cook and get snacks.

As for the rules, she realized “that’s what you need to do, because what you’ve been doing in life hasn’t been working. So it made you have to go back to square one, back to school, to get your life in order. And then you’ll be able to get the tools you need to live the life you want.” While being on blackout and away from her phone in the early days of her stay at TEC was challenging, Jasmin felt that she benefited from staying busy with therapeutic and workplace development groups, doctors appointments, and other activities.

Jasmin appreciates the support she received not only in her recovery, but in working towards the next stages of her life. The Empowerment Center provides clients with recommended jobs to apply for, interview clothes, and – eventually, a vetted list of felon-friendly apartments. All of which Jasmin appreciates. Finally, she appreciates that the TEC staff continued to care about her post-graduation. “It’s not like they let you go and you’re off on your own,” she explains. “It’s definitely worth the time because The Empowerment Center educates you and makes you feel

sarah verdugo in nature facing sideways with sun in background