But finally, in his 50s, in the midst of an emotional breakdown over a shattered relationship, and after “smoking his breakfast, drinking his lunch and snorting his dinner” for many years, Buschel checked himself into the Betty Ford Center. It was hitting the lowest of the lows that so many addicts experience.
It was time to see what a month would be like without vodka, weed, or ecstasy. For Buschel, it was a revelation! Every moment he was struck by how alive he felt when not under the influence. For him, the power of the program there and at AA worked wonders. He has now been clean and sober for more than two decades. And while he tinkered with several careers to replace his successful but illegal profession, he finally found himself drawn to helping other addicts kick the habit and find a stable, healthy, robust sober life.
Inspired by the work, he launched the eBulletin, film festival, and organization Writers in Treatment, which he cofounded with Robert Downey Sr, which has made him a leader in the recovery field. HIGH is a fascinating read, a lively romp through a very vivid life, but it is also a cautionary tale and one that inspires. If anyone as committed to the drug life as Leonard Buschel, and can find sobriety beyond 25 years of active addiction and drug dealing, then there is hope for those who are inspired by his message that there is a better life waiting—and that they can achieve it, too.