I worked in risk management for a top 25 credit card issuer and did significant work with credit bureaus and the underwriting division. Filing for bankruptcy does not "screw you" for seven years. A bankruptcy filing will remain on your credit report for up to 10 years from the discharge date, so lenders will be aware of it. However, most people can re-establish credit within about three years. You can expect to answer a few questions about it when you apply for a mortgage, but if you establish solid credit for three or more years, most lenders will be forgiving of an older bankruptcy.
If you do declare bankruptcy, you should try to get a secured card a few months after the discharge is granted. These cards have hefty annual fees, high interest rates, and very low limits. You also have to deposit 80 - 100% of the credit line you wish to obtain. However, these cards are reported to credit bureaus just like an unsecured card, so it allows you to establish credit quickly.
Of course, in order to get your score back up, you need to be more disciplined this time around. If you can't pay the secured card, it will show up as delinquent on your credit report, even if the amount of delinquency is less than the security deposit. Obviously, that gets you nowhere, so don't do it. Additionally, once you file chapter 7 bankruptcy, you will not be able to file for six years.
In summary, bankruptcy is not as bad as some of the people above make it out to be. Millions of people file for bankruptcy every year, and they go on with their lives. But it is a big step, and should not be undertaken lightly. It's generally a good idea only for people who are really be hounded by their creditors and need the calls to stop.
If you don't file, you should consider credit counseling. Just make sure that the agency you work with is in fact a nonprofit organization, and ask about how they get paid. Most credit agencies will ask your creditors to fork over a portion of your payments. (The creditors will still credit your account for the full payment.) These agencies typically don't do much other than add up your debts and set an amount that you will pay to each creditor every month, but most creditors will reduce your interest rate and stop charging late fees once you start a credit counseling program. The fact that you are in credit counseling will be reported to credit bureaus. While that takes place, it is considered derogatory -- but not nearly as bad as bankruptcy or an all-out default.
I don't know what the implications are for bar fitness, although obviously you should make sure you understand how your state will treat that. Many employers will not hire someone who recently declared bankruptcy or defaulted on loans.