Levi’s addiction to alcohol and cocaine began before Levi was even legal to consume alcohol. “I got into college, I went through a bad breakup, and I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do with my life, and I had a lot of depression.”
Before college, Levi visited China where the drinking age was very lax (he was 17 at the time). “I used alcohol as a way to fit in and meet more people, I wasn’t very social unless I was drinking.”
In college, Levi was a member of a fraternity, where alcohol is a predominant part of the culture. “I started binge drinking alcohol, and selling cocaine was an easy way to make money in college.” He began using cocaine once he began selling it.
Levi started down a destructive path, where he would “sleep around” and use sex and alcohol as a way to cope with the emptiness he was feeling.
Levi began drinking every single day, showing up to classes drunk and consequently failed his first semester. His parents stopped paying for his schooling, forcing him to start working more to make money.
During his second semester, Levi began abusing Adderall in school as it helped him power through all of the work he had to get done. “I really liked it and I started drinking on it. It helped me drink more and more and more.”
After his second semester, Levi went to the mountains to try to find work in hopes of making enough money to pay for school. Levi started dealing marijuana and cocaine once up there. “It was an easy way to just continue my drinking and just continue blocking out whatever I wasn’t sure about or what I was scared about or anything I didn’t want to think about.”
His relationship with his parents took a huge toll. “My parents were pretty frustrated. I wouldn’t go to class and when I did, I was drunk, so I wasn’t doing well.”
Many, if not all, of the other close relationships Levi had also begun to fall apart. “All of my friends started not to like me; if you knew me for too long, you wouldn’t like me…I didn’t keep friends for very long. I pissed a lot of people off. I really couldn’t go anywhere without seeing someone who didn’t like me.”
The people that Levi started to consider his friends were those that he was selling drugs to, people that he would use with.
It soon became clear that Levi was losing the people he cared about and losing them fast. “All of my relationships ended because of my drug use and drinking. I lied to so many people about everything.”
Even Levi’s girlfriend at the time didn’t even know that he was dealing, let alone that he was involved with hard drugs.
“I said a lot of things that I regret to a lot of people…It really tore every relationship I ever had apart, with my family, my friends, my sister.”
Even though his world seemingly crashing down around him, Levi was in a state of denial about his addiction. “I used to just tell myself that ‘I’m not an alcoholic’, I just, you know, I’m in college, that’s what a college kid is supposed to do, is drink a lot, and experiment and try drugs.”
But as time went on, Levi began to realize that his behavior surpassed what he had preconceived to be normal drinking behavior for someone his age. “I was drinking and driving every day, all day. I had to wake up in the middle of the night to drink…I couldn’t go a day without drinking.”
Even with his friends trying to intervene by taking his keys and trying to lock Levi out of his own car, he still managed to find ways around their efforts and continued to drink and drive.
Crash Course in Rock Bottom
“I started to kind of realize when I couldn’t go a day without drinking that it was pretty bad.” And soon after that, Levi started to see just how bad those consequences were. “I got in some bad situations with drug dealers and owed a lot of people a lot of money. I got a DUI along with a lot of drug charges.”
Things continued to worsen for Levi. “I was getting more and more into debt, I couldn’t pay my rent…my friends stopped hanging out with me. I made a couple attempts on my life.”
Levi would wake up in the early mornings and drink while taking Ambien. He would then get behind the wheel and begin to drive. “[I would] drive down the highway doing as fast as my jeep would go, usually about 100 miles an hour, and just try and fall asleep and crash into something, and make it look like an accident.”
Levi was never injured but recalls crashing into guardrails several times. His biggest moment of clarity came during one of these times. “I got out of my car, I had to get out of the other side because my door was all bent up…I just laid in the middle of the road, at about 4:00 in the morning, and just cried. I remember praying for God to either kill me or help me.”
About a month later, Levi walked into his parents’ house and found himself in the middle of his own intervention. “They told me that if I didn’t go to rehab, I was going to go to jail. They were going to pick me up from work the next day, so I had to do at least 45 days.”
Levi was put on a plane without knowing where he was headed. He drank on to the plane and was hesitant at first. “Everyone seemed kind of too nice…my first couple of days were really eye-opening for me.”
Levi started to understand the severity of his addiction. “When I got there, everybody kind of had the same story as me. And I realized that ‘I do need to quit, or else I’m going to kill myself.”
Choosing a Better Life
And it was when Levi began his treatment and attending meetings in his program that he began to understand the power of treatment, and the possibility of recovery. “I started to hear people share and realize that these people had been through worse things than I had been…and they were happy now. And genuinely laughing, and happy to see each other. It was really weird, but I realized that if I was planning on killing myself, this was the one thing I hadn’t tried.”
Levi took the tools that he learned in rehab with him into the real world after treatment and started working at a gas station. “I can tell you that I was happier working at a gas station making $8 an hour than I ever was at any of my other jobs making $13, $14, $20 an hour.”
But Levi is honest about the fact that every day after rehab wasn’t, and still isn’t, always easy. “I was also miserable at the gas station at some times. When I showed back up in the rooms and I took more suggestions, and I worked with a sponsor, that’s when things would get better again. So I’ve had my ups and downs in recovery, I’ve been depressed in recovery. The main thing that I see is that the amount of time, and the lows when I’m depressed, gets less and less as time goes on. And I’m able to get out of it better and get back to living my life and being happy.”
Levi has found ways through recovery to fix what he thought was unfixable, especially rebuilding and fostering strong and loving relationships. “I have a relationship with my parents today. I have a relationship with my sister. And when I start dating someone and it doesn’t go well, I just realize that I’m worth it, to not get too down about it and get depressed like I used to.”
And perhaps out of all of these relationships that Levi continues to grow and build, the strongest and most transformative one has been the relationship he has with himself. “I used to think that there was no other option left other than to kill myself and that life would never get better. But now I can’t dream of killing myself, because there’s too much I want to do and too many people I want to help…that’s the last thing I want to do, is die right now.”
Levi’s advice to anyone who may be struggling right now? “I would say just make that first step and just keep chugging. Because it’s not easy but it’s well worth it, and there’s always hope. And if someone like me can make amends for the things they did and enjoy life, then anyone can. What do you have to lose?”