Woman Who Stole Thousands From JP Morgan To Fund Drug Habit Talks Recovery

By McCarton Ackerman 09/02/16

Emily McMillan credits rehab for saving her life after a cocaine addiction led her to steal over £10,000 from her employer, JP Morgan.

Woman Who Stole Thousands From JP Morgan To Fund Drug Habit Talks Recovery

A British woman who collapsed in court after being convicted of fraud and theft has literally risen over the past six years and overcame the cocaine addiction that brought her to that rock bottom moment.

Emily McMillan was working in her mid-20s as a personal assistant to top senior executives at JP Morgan. She was also spending between £200 and £700 a night on cocaine and legal highs, despite the fact that her £32,000 annual salary didn’t come close to covering the cost. At her worst, McMillan was snorting four grams of cocaine per day.

“I don’t think I ever really managed life, money or relationships very well,” McMillan told the Independent. “Working in London, paying higher prices and indulging in the party scene took its toll. I didn’t sleep much in the last six months of my using, and I was extremely detached from reality. I borrowed money from everyone who loved me enough to trust me, without the means of paying it back.”

While under the influence of cocaine, she began stealing from JP Morgan through the corporate credit cards she had access to. McMillan stole over £10,000 in 2011 to repay a range of debts. Unsurprisingly, the bank caught wind of the missing money during a routine audit and she was arrested after owning up to the theft.

McMillan pleaded guilty to four counts of fraud and one count of theft. But the judge mercifully spared her a prison sentence after noticing her eagerness to both pay the debt back and kick her drug habit. She was instead ordered to repay the money back and sentenced to community service and six months of drug rehab. 

It was her nine-week stay at Focus 12—a charity in Bury St Edmunds, England, that offers residential substance abuse treatment—that she believes saved her life.

“Getting clean and going through rehab was the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” she admitted. “I had to change everything about myself. Recovery means facing all of your demons. It takes persistence and recommitment daily to ensure abstinence.” 

Since finishing court-ordered treatment, McMillan has continued to attend support group meetings. She’s even since landed a job at Focus 12 and hopes to help others overcome their addictions. 

“Not everyone is lucky to have the kind of support I did,” she said. “It is important that we realize the lie 'once an addict always and addict’ is dead.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.