One of the ways a person gets meaning out of life, no matter how hard their life has been, is by supporting and inspiring others to reach their dreams. In fact, in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), those who don’t have anyone to get sober for – such as their spouse or children (or even themselves) – are encouraged to get sober for all those who can’t. Some AA circles will ask a member to stay sober for the group. It gives a recovering addict a sense of purpose.
And today, this is the same sort of purpose that Ryan Leaf may be experiencing. The former NFL football star and recovering addict knows the physical, emotional, and psychological hardships that addiction brings. He knows what it’s like to go in and out of jail. He knows the experience of being hooked on prescription pain pills and being caught in the destructive cycle of addiction. And he knows what that rock bottom point feels like and having a moment of insight, in the midst of suicidal thoughts. Leaf called it a moment of spirituality and humility, recognizing that he needed to stop what he was doing and get clean.
And Leaf not only changed his life around, but he’s working hard to facilitate change in the lives of others, especially teens. Today, Leaf is part of the team at Transcend Recovery Community, serving as Program Ambassador and leading their Adolescent Mentoring Program. Leaf is also a motivational speaker and author, talking openly and freely about the pain of addiction and the possibility of recovery. He is a light of hope for teens and adults who struggle with substance use.
In fact, if you live in Southern California, you might have had the opportunity to hear Leaf speak recently. He was at Corona del Mar High School on March 10th and the teens listening to him, especially the football players, were oozing with excitement. Leaf used that excitement to connect with teens and spread his message of addiction prevention and recovery. The success of that afternoon is only the beginning. Leaf is committed to providing teens and young adults with the inspiration they need to bring their dreams to life. As Program Ambassador, he takes part in school assemblies, speaks in classrooms, and works with students one on one to fuel their dreams and prevent anything that gets in the way of what they want to achieve – including substance use and addiction.
Ryan Leaf’s motto is “focused intensity”. If you want something, he might say, you’ve got to be focused. Having been a national football star and considering his recovery from opiate addiction, Leaf knows how to get what he wants, once he puts his mind to it. That kind of tenacity, perseverance, and inner strength are qualities he can pass on to young athletes as well as any student looking for support. And as Leaf witnesses transformation in the lives of the young adults he’s supporting, he’s sure to experience meaning and purpose, a fulfillment much greater than the high of any drug.
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