"Addiction dictates everything"

By Christian BlockLex Kleren Switch to German for original article

Benoît Leonardis was addicted to crack. He messed up many things in his life because of the addiction. Nevertheless, the 40-year-old was luckier than others. Today, he wants to be a role model for young people and criticises the vacuum for people returning from therapy.

It is a Tuesday afternoon in July in a sports studio. Benoît Leonardis welcomes his visitors. Friendly manner, firm handshake. The 40-year-old had agreed to the interview request a few weeks earlier, on the same day. If he could help just one person with his story, it was worth it, he reports a little later. The place of the meeting is no accident either. The fitness centre is like a second home, he says. It is a place that makes you strong in the truest sense of the word – but also mentally.

When he returns home from therapy abroad in November 2018, it is one of his first priorities. "I knew very well that I would have to maintain my routine and various habits after returning from therapy." What he appreciates about the comparatively small studio is the family atmosphere. Here, everyone knows everyone. While he shows us around and poses for the camera, he is always polite, listens attentively and is friendly with the other visitors of the fitness centre. Maintaining social contacts: He also had to get back into the habit after his period with the drug problems. "It was important for me to maintain social contacts here."

His self-description in his childhood and youth paints a different picture. He was a "turbulent" boy who never calmed down, moved around a lot and talked a lot. He has problems at school, can't really find his place. He attributes this to being of Italian descent. At home, he only spoke French. Even today, he says, his Luxembourgish is not perfect. Yet he speaks it fluently. As a teenager, "I didn't really feel comfortable in my own skin". He was very thin. He tries to cover up his perceived deficits by talking. "You then invent a life for yourself, you make yourself bigger and more beautiful than you are and at some point, you lose yourself in this identity", he says about himself. In his youth he plays football. But he describes this former self as arrogant. "I didn't really respect training, I didn't listen to people". Input bounced off him, he says. He is the one who is always right. At 20, he suffers an accident while playing sports and breaks his leg. "That threw me completely off course."

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