At the end of a dirt road, tucked behind several large oak trees, stands a large cinder block house surrounded by a cluttered yard, a home to 19 men.
“That over there on the couch is Jimmy. He just got his one year. He used to be strung out on coke and vodka. And that dude at the pool table is Mike, he’s a six monther, fresh off roxies,” said Brandon Leadbeater, 21, a junior majoring in psychology at the University of South Florida, as he took a long drag from a cigarette.
Leadbeater moved into a sober house for men in the Town N’ Country neighborhood of Tampa four months ago.
In September 2011, Leadbeater was arrested and convicted of felony hit and run with an injury in Clearwater.
“I just lost all control,” Leadbeater said, “One day I’m an honors student at UCF, the next I’m sitting in maximum security.”
As a student at the University of Central Florida Leadbeater found the party scene too much to resist. He started out smoking and selling pot before progressing to ecstasy, mushrooms, LSD, cocaine and heroine.
“I did X and acid, at least 50 or 60 times each within about six months,” said Leadbeater, “I mean, I can barely remember, but that sounds right.” Eventually Leadbeater dropped out of UCF and moved back to his mom’s house in Palm Harbor.
One September night Leadbeater consumed 10 roxicodones and went to a bar. After a couple pitchers of beer he decided to drive home. One mile down the road he side-swiped another vehicle and attempted to flee.
After spending eight nights in Pinellas County’s maximum security facility, Leadbeater was sentenced to one year probation and ordered to move into a sober house.
On this evening, Leadbeater will spend his night in front of the large-screen television in a common area at Koala House watching the Grammys with his roommates.
“You know I could be out partying right now, and it would definitely be fun, but this is cool, too,” Leadbeater said, “I think this place may have saved my life, and I think that accident did, too, as weird as that sounds.”
Leadbeater no longer spends his days searching for pills, instead he searches for employment and spends his time nose deep in textbooks.