“The insanity of waking up in the morning and the first thought in my mind was, ‘Do I have pills?’ And if I didn’t, how was I going to get them? That was my daily ritual,” he recalls.
When he couldn’t find the pills, thoughts of dying loomed in his mind. He Googled ways to kill himself, once attempting to slit his wrists with a kitchen knife in the bathtub. In the end, he wasn’t able to go through with it. “Luckily for me that my higher power finally sent the sheriff’s department and intervened that way.”
On March 30, 2012, Leaf was arrested in his hometown on burglary and drug possession charges. He’d spend 32 months in a Montana prison.
Some prison redemption stories have a quick resolution, but Leaf was resistant and unrepentant. “For the first 26 months I sat in that prison cell. I didn’t go outside. I was just self-loathing and victim stance and blaming. There was no accountability on my part,” he says.
It took some prodding from his cellmate — a veteran who’d fought in Iraq and Afghanistan — to help turn his life around. “He told me I didn’t understand the value I had, and I needed to get my head out of the sand.”
His roommate encouraged him to volunteer teaching illiterate prisoners how to read. Leaf grudgingly went along the first time, but he kept going back. “Before I knew it, I’d been helping these guys for a month. I was in service for the first time in my life. I realized that I was sleeping better at night. I wasn’t as angry,” he says. Humility proved a powerful tool for recovery.
On December 3, 2014, Leaf was released from prison. He was 32 months sober, but not yet fully recovered from his addiction.
Once out of prison, Leaf turned his attention to helping others avoid or overcome addiction. He reached out to Transcend — a recovery community with facilities in Los Angeles, New York, and Houston.
“I kept badgering the COO, Christian [De Oliveira], for a job. Finally, he got back to me and said, ‘I get it, you want a job. Send me your resume.’”
January 08, 2018
Janet O’Dell, RN