He was put in jail for something he didn’t do.

It was the first time he had been in trouble his entire 44 years of life. He was detained for 10 months while waiting for his court date, which was plenty of time for Leon to decide that enough was enough.

He started drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana just after he got married in 1993, but his wife didn’t approve of it. Six years later, he was divorced and free to do whatever he wanted.

So for the next 15 years, he worked hard and partied a lot.

“I didn’t think I had a problem, because I kept my job and paid my bills.”

But the using accelerated, and suddenly he found himself in the county jail with a high bond. He was mad at the world, but that didn’t stop him from observing what was going on around him.

“I saw the same offenders come and go. It was a pattern that I didn’t want to repeat.”

He learned a lot while he was there. He learned to be more humble. He learned how to live with a group of people. He learned how to manage his anger. But he didn’t learn how to manage his addiction and live a life of recovery until after he was released.

Leon was required by law to attend classes through Heartland for 3 months following his time in jail. He was bitter about it at first, but he was better for it in the long run.

“Heartland made me a different person. They helped me be open instead of keeping it all inside. I’ve been blessed ever since I’ve been out. I’m ready to just live life right.”

For Leon, living life right means making good choices like not drinking and smoking, but it also means taking care of his health. After a failed urine analysis test at Heartland, they recommended he see a doctor. That’s when he learned he had diabetes.

“I didn’t have any symptoms in jail. I was on a high-carb diet there, and I lost a lot of weight, but I never had my blood sugar checked. Since then, I have learned how to eat right, exercise and take medication to manage this disease.”

Leon says his body feels good now. He also says he feels healthy and strong in his mind, thanks to classes at Heartland.

More than anything, Heartland has helped him achieve positive change in his life.

“My eyes were opened to what other people were going through, and I realized it wasn’t a path I wanted to follow. When I got out, I was different. I stopped using. I started hanging out with my family instead of my ‘friends.’ When I was using, I was a slacker, but now I’m a go-getter. Everyone saw that I was changed.”

<center>We see it too, Leon.