Former Miss Arizona battles back from drug addiction
PHOENIX (KSAZ) - Former Miss Arizona, Erin Dolby, is a talented, classical pianist who battled substance abuse.
"My circle of friends got smaller and smaller and smaller," she said. "I wasn't social anymore. My relationships were affected."
She earned the title of "Miss Arizona" 20 years ago and went on to compete in the Miss America pageant., but afterwards, she says she began using drugs.
"It was abuse I suffered at the hands of a friend's father and (I) just kind of stuffed it all down," she said. "I started slipping away, I didn't have a choice of whether I was gonna stop. At that point, I was too far gone. I had to keep using in order to stay OK."
Knowing she could lose her life, Erin finally checked into rehab with help from her family. At age 34, she got life-changing news.
"They got me into a room and they said, 'We're not going to beat around the bush, we got your test results back and you're HIV positive as a direct result of your addiction.'"
The HIV diagnosis made the former Miss Arizona determined to change. Sobriety has now given her a new lease on life.
"It's messy and beautiful; makes mistakes and gets back up again," she said.
The former beauty queen says people with HIV have been stigmatized over the years. She's now heavily involved with Aids Walk as a volunteer and she's worked as a facilitator at the Southwest Center for HIV.
Erin has also fallen in love and got married at the 2013 AIDS Walk.
"We struggled to get pregnant and now we have a healthy, beautiful 9-month-old baby boy," she said.
She knows that sobriety, giving back to the community and her new baby are some of her biggest successes yet.
"Now, as long as I don't drink or do drugs my life is going to be successful no matter what," she said.