“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” –George Eliot

Who I am today is not who I was. I was a broken man, struggling day to day to survive. Struggling in an addiction that I was sure would be the end of me. In my mind I had become the lowest of the low. Addicted. Incarcerated. Estranged from my family. In and out of institutions. I was trapped in a vicious cycle of lies, deceit, and self-indulgence. I was an addict and my addiction defined me. There was no tomorrow for me, only the here and now and the insatiable appetite of my addiction, which I would do anything to feed.

Today I define myself as a father. A grandfather. A spouse and a son. I am a peer support specialist giving back to those who still suffer with mental health and substance abuse issues. I am a college graduate. I’m a friend and neighbor. Addiction no longer defines me.

Change takes hard work and dedication. The progress that we make in our lives isn’t always linear and there are often setbacks. Only through perseverance and a desire to be better can we achieve our goals. In this regard, George Eliot was right; it is never too late to rewrite our story. We all possess the ability to take back control of our lives and become who we were meant to be all along. I am living proof of this.

Ryan Leonardo

Ryan works as a Peer Support Specialist for RI in Delaware. He has a long history of substance abuse but now has been clean since 2016. Ryan is currently interning with the Mental Health Association in Delaware and is working towards his CPRS certification. Helping those who suffer with substance abuse and mental health is his passion.