Advertisement

‘Hello, OxyContin’: Former hockey player reveals spiral into addiction, life on streets, jail time

Click to play video: 'Former pro hockey player battles addiction' Former pro hockey player battles addiction
In 2016, former Kelowna Rocket and pro hockey player Brady Leavold made headlines after being sentenced to jail – Mar 5, 2021

As junior hockey player, Brady Leavold showed promise and pugilism.

But if you looked really closely, Leavold will be the first to tell you he also showed problems.

“I was already on the verge of becoming an addict,” Leavold to Global News in an exclusive interview.

Read more: Former NHL player Brantt Myhres pens memoir about path to sobriety: ‘I spilled my guts out’

When the Kelowna Rockets acquired the 20-year-old in 2007, Leavold admitted to doing cocaine in the off-season.

But he added “while I was in Kelowna, I didn’t use any drugs at all.

”Leavold then says his cocaine use shifted into ‘high gear’ when he signed by the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning.“

During training camp, by the time I was 20, 21, I was really into the cocaine,” he said.

Story continues below advertisement
Click to play video: 'Former pro hockey player battles addiction' Former pro hockey player battles addiction
Former pro hockey player battles addiction – Mar 5, 2021

In his first year of minor pro hockey, the Vancouver-born Leavold sustained a torn MCL in the AHL.

“Hello, OxyContin,” Leavold said.

The former Swift Current Broncos rookie of the year quickly developed a dependency on prescription painkillers.

“(Oxycontin) led me to heroin and pretty much every drug in-between,” said Leavold. “By 2011, I was now an intravenous drug user.”

After bouncing around the minors, his addiction spun so violently out of control that Leavold ended up strung out on heroin and living on the streets of Vancouver’s notorious downtown eastside.

From there, Leavold says it just got worse.

Click to play video: 'Hockey helps recovering addicts stay on clean path' Hockey helps recovering addicts stay on clean path
Hockey helps recovering addicts stay on clean path – Jan 18, 2018

“By 2014, there was no more heroin,” he said. “It was just fentanyl and I started to overdose a lot.”

By Leavold’s account, he overdosed so many times that he should have been dead long ago.

Then, in 2016, Leavold was arrested for robbing a taxi driver at knifepoint.

It was at this point, during his court appearance, where he finally hit rock bottom.

“Having to stand up, plead guilty and look back at my parents with absolute shame and disgust in their face,” Leavold recalled.

Story continues below advertisement
Click to play video: 'Exposure to Vancouver’s dark side helps young hockey players become community leaders' Exposure to Vancouver’s dark side helps young hockey players become community leaders
Exposure to Vancouver’s dark side helps young hockey players become community leaders – Dec 13, 2019

He served 21 months in jail for that crime — time he now credits for saving his life.

“Every day, I wake up, I take a big deep breath and I’m like ‘Hey I’m still alive.’”

Now two years after getting out of jail, Leavold is living in Ontario and trying to piece his once-promising life back together.

He’s producing Hockey 2 Hell and Back, a podcast that he’s using as a form of therapy on his road to recovery.

“We are going to talk about all things hockey, all things addiction,” Leavold said during an episode of the podcast.

Click to play video: 'Theo Fleury speaks about mental health in Kelowna' Theo Fleury speaks about mental health in Kelowna
Theo Fleury speaks about mental health in Kelowna – Jan 11, 2020

Leavold is using social media to tell his story and the story of others who have struggled with addiction and mental health issues.

“We’ve kind of come together to show people that it’s OK to be not OK,” Leavold said about his subject matter and the guests he interviews.

The former Rocket has also founded ‘The Puck Support Network,’ an organization that promotes mental health for the hockey community.

“The premise of it is to provide support for those who are struggling,” said Leavold, “but maybe, more importantly, develop a channel of education to get to the younger players.”

Story continues below advertisement
Click to play video: 'WHL player knows firsthand why talking about suicide is important' WHL player knows firsthand why talking about suicide is important
WHL player knows firsthand why talking about suicide is important – Feb 27, 2019

Leavold says he’s off hard drugs now, but knows that “once an addict, always an addict.”

“It doesn’t matter if I’m a year clean, two years clean or from people I have talked to 25 years clean, it’s always there lurking,” Leavold said of his addiction that cost him a chance at a life in the NHL.

And that’s why Leavold continues to focus on his podcast and the Puck Support Network to help others and to help keep him straight on the road to recovery.

Sponsored content