This is what an addict looks like

Yesterday was five years of sobriety for me. Other than celebrations with friends, I thought creating this video was a proper commemoration of this milestone in my recovery. Thank you to all of you who have affected my sobriety in one way or another- every lesson and experience has led me to where I am today and I wouldn’t have my life (or myself) any other way.

Content warning for heavy subject matter, drug mentions, and some profanity.

Update: Wow, less than 24 hours later and my blog has had over 1,000 views from all over the country since posting this, 801 being for this video. To give a frame of reference, my blog normally gets about 200 views daily.
I knew this was an important issue affecting many people’s lives but I have gotten so many shares and messages about this video/topic. I am tremendously humbled and grateful for everyone’s support and contact. Whatever facet of mental illness has touched your life, please keep this conversation going. Silence fuels stigma and shame; dialogue is the first step changing our approach to mental health as a society. Thank you all so much for watching!


36 Replies to “This is what an addict looks like”

  1. This is fantastic. You are beautiful inside and out. Thank you for sharing your story and creating this video. You’re presence is so important – always remember that. Let me know if you’re ever in NYC. We can chat about sobriety over teaโœŒ

  2. Thank you Leah and congratulations on your sobriety. We lost our son in 2013 to an overdose and progress has been so slow in help for people, but you give me hope that there is change in progress.

    1. Debbie, thank you so much for watching and replying. I knew Dan through high school and afterward until I moved from Lexington in 2011. His passing was devastating to me because he was such a sweet and free spirit, I could never have imagined that happening. I’m so sorry for your loss and I’m humbled to have shown you some hope, no matter how small. Again, thanks for watching!

  3. Leah, so so proud of you. I always had a picture in my classroom that you drew of Buddy the Elf: Smiling, it’s my favorite! I’m smiling now (through a few tears).
    Cheryl Irwin

  4. Leah, you sweet beautiful young lady – I am so happy to celebrate your 5 years of sobriety, and truly appreciate your willingness to put your story out there. I will be sharing with your message. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Leah, If it is okay, I would like to use your video in my doctoral classes and with my graduate students to fight the STIGMA of what it means to be an addict – what a beautiful, authentic, and informative YouTube video. Congrats on 5 years! – I am so happy for you!

  6. I am watching through tears and with joy this story of a remarkable, talented, intelligent, and courageous young woman I’ve known for many years. Leah, once again you have made me proud. Thank you for sharing this so that all of us who love you – and look how many of us there are – can join you in this celebration!!!!

  7. Poignant! Perfectly stated and at the same time inspiring to those of us that have supported friends and family. Your concise language about our countries’ problem is educational, yet moving in that every person has an obligation to think deeply about the choices we make and the people we choose to lead us through these situations. This would be a perfect TED TALK! I applaud your bravery, strength, humility and perseverance! You are a remarkable woman and I will stand up and cheer you on!

  8. Leah, so, so touched and proud of you. You will always be held in my heart. Keep up the good work. I would like to share this with my FA group, if I may? Hope is something we all need to keep in our hearts, and bless you for sharing this so others may have some.

    1. Karen, I’d be honored if you’d share it! Thank you so much for watching and responding. You and the rest of the family were so accepting and supportive of my recovery from the start; I seriously couldn’t have asked for a better bunch of in-laws ๐Ÿ™‚ So glad this resonated with you. I think of you guys all the time and hope you’re all doing well! Love.

  9. Hi Leah. My son Christian passed away in August of 2013 from an overdose. Christian was 23. Your story was his story, except in a moment of relapse Christian didn’t wake up. He fought bravely and I miss him dearly. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. Thank you for being a blessing to others, keep up the good work and know you are touching people lives.

    1. Thank you so much for watching and reaching out. I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your son and it is an all too familiar and tragic story that several of my friends also share. And often, they were the ones who fought the hardest. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers, as I will be returning both to you as well.

  10. great message. sorry to have ever doubted your “authenticity” as an addict. After many years of self destruction I’m no longer impressed with how much or how little anyone has used or didn’t use, only when they want to get off the runaway train to hell that is addiction. I overdosed twice in a two week period last year so I get how serious it is now.

  11. This is such a powerful video! My younger brother’s drug of choice is heroin. I worry he will be another statistic. I have never been so moved and hopeful. What you have provided is truly inspiring and real. Thank you, Leah, for sharing your story. You are awesome!!

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