June 2022 – Things could have played out very differently for Leonard Lee Buschel. A powerful combo of early-childhood trauma, temperament, a “professional” opportunity, and luck combined to foster a 27-year drug dealing career that might have gone disastrously wrong. In fact, a great many things did go wrong, which became undeniably clear when Leonard looked at the Top 10 catastrophic close calls he was asked to list while in rehab. “I read it and thought, ‘Whoever wrote this is crazy and suicidal,’ ” he says, recalling the wallop of having all those near-misses condensed into one place. “No one notices when you go insane slowly.”

This fascinating conversation takes a look at addiction and recovery through the lens of film with lots of insights and movie recs from Leonard, who is — among many things — founder of the Reel Recovery Film Festival. Going strong for the past 14 years in Los Angeles and venues around the U.S., it’s a unique platform for honoring shorts, animated and feature-length films as well as documentaries with follow-up panel discussions whose focus is on journeys to the brink — and beyond.

Leonard also shares highlights from his compelling book, “HIGH: Confessions of a Cannabis Addict,” thoughts on ingredients for sustained recovery and various resources to support healing. For Leonard, the point of sobriety isn’t labels or regret, but celebration. However we got here and whatever we do, the goal is to welcome growth, self-understanding and the beauty of moving from surviving to thriving!