Speaking publicly for the first time since the UFC suspended him for testing positive for painkillers at UFC 138, Chris Leben said that the suspension forced him into rehab and forced him to turn his life around.
"I've battled drugs and alcohol," Leben said on The MMA Hour. "I've battled with those for my entire life. I've had an issue with being addicted to painkillers for years now. I had some issues with my camp and it was almost a cry for help. I knew I was going to get caught and I just didn't care at the time. I'm extremely embarrassed, I feel like I let down the UFC, but at the same time I think getting caught is probably the best thing to ever happen to me. The UFC has been unbelievable, they sent me to a rehab facility and they really took care of me."
Leben said he knew he had the oxycodone and oxymorphone pills with him at the UFC event in England knowing he would be drug tested, and that while he hoped he could force himself off the pills just long enough to get through the fight and start taking them again afterward, as the fight approached he just couldn't stop.
"My wife had brought them to me for after the fight, and I had tapered off them for the fight, but there were some issues, a lot of stress, and I cracked," Leben said. "It was as simple as that. I knew they were there and I cracked. I couldn't hold out."
That was five months ago, and when the positive drug test came back the UFC suspended him for a year. Leben said that he's taking that year to get his life back on track, and that he hasn't taken a pain pill since he went to rehab. However, he did admit to "a slip" in which he "had a drink -- more than one." Since then Leben has been taking Antabuse, which will make him sick if he has a drink.
Leben said that slip, however, is not a fall.
"Right now life is actually going well for me -- it's going great, considering," Leben said. "Life's going really good, better than it has in a long, long time."
If Leben can keep his life moving in the right direction, he says, "I hope to God" he'll be back in the Octagon late this year.