He grew up in Prestonsburg, graduated from Prestonsburg High School, and took several classes at Prestonsburg Community College. He joined the U.S. Navy after 9-11 and did two tours — one in Operation Iraqi Freedom and one in Operation Enduring Freedom. He was part of a family that was at church whenever the doors were open.
But Brandon Leslie’s life was about to change. He was a heavy drinker while in the military. Then Brandon was badly injured and had multiple knee surgeries. That is when he started taking opiates. Back home in Prestonsburg he was introduced to OxyContin 30s and became a needle user.
At first, Brandon could hold down a job. He obtained money by stealing from family members, stealing metal to sell for scrap, and doing a few odd jobs. He got into some trouble with the law and began the first of eight – yes eight – stints in rehab facilities.
When Brandon agreed to go to the Addiction Recovery Care (ARC) treatment facility in Belle Grove, he selected it mainly because at that time it was a 28-day stay, which was the shortest way for him to satisfy his family.
But something happened during those four weeks at Belle Grove.
“God got ahold of me,” Brandon said. “I had a spiritual awakening. I signed up for six months of treatment. I knew that if I went back home to Prestonsburg, I would die. I couldn’t go back to those familiar faces and places.”
After his six months of treatment, Brandon spent another six months as Belle Grove’s first male intern. It already had internships for the women’s program, but hadn’t yet done so for the men’s program.
Brandon was later hired full-time and eventually became just the second director in the history of Belle Grove.
He got married; his wife is also in recovery after being at Karen’s Place. Brandon earned his bachelor’s degree from Morehead State University, graduating debt-free. The couple not only own a home, but their house is paid for.
Brandon has risen up the ranks at ARC. He became Director of Residential Services during a time when ARC grew from four facilities to 22. He now works with the Quality Assurance team.
With a clean date of January 6, 2014, Brandon will soon celebrate 10 years in recovery.
Looking back, he has this advice for those who are dealing with substance use disorder: “Life is too short. There are people out there who love you. There are people out there who are praying for you – people you don’t even know. You are worth giving yourself a second chance at life.”