Levi Jordan shares lessons from relapse and recovery

Levi Jordan clearly remembers the last time he used meth. It was a night in late January, and he was in his car, in a field, somewhere in Shipshewana. But there was something different about that batch. He said he felt like he was going to die – he was dehydrated, his kidneys hurt, his skin was crawling.

He called a friend he knew from Narcotics Anonymous (NA) – a man with nine years of sobriety, who would later become his sponsor.

“I should have called you 10 minutes ago,” he said. “I can’t do this no more. I’ve got kids and I want to have a good life. What do I do?”

His friend’s advice: Crawl into the backseat, wait for the sun to come up, and then drive himself to Oaklawn’s Recovery Café in South Bend. Unfortunately, it was the weekend, and the café was closed when he got there. But he waited – he slept in his car for the second night – so he could see a recovery coach in the morning.

Jordan had been in contact with Oaklawn’s Recovery Café before – and they had helped him. His first contact was with recovery coach Heidi Heckaman, who talked him through a crisis when he was feeling suicidal. Another coach, Ricky Mountsier, had helped him get into treatment a year earlier. This time, he met with coach Henry Robertson who helped him enter treatment again. That was Feb. 1, 2023, and he’s been sober ever since. 

Jordan started using drugs when he was 19. He’s 32 now, and over the years, he’s had seasons of recovery and relapse. He’s faced substance use, incarceration, trauma, mental illness and suicidal ideation. He also survived a suicide attempt.

“I cannot think of one good thing that’s came of using drugs, other than the feeling, and that’s the hard part right there, because I don’t know how to deal with my emotions,” he said. “I have anger, I want to use to feel better. I get sad, I want to use to feel better. But once you come down, you don’t feel better. You feel guilt, shame and remorse.”

But things feel different this time, he says. After his last round of treatment, he did 90 NA meetings in 90 days.

“That was a big accomplishment for me,” he said. “It helped me grow my network of people I can call any time day or night. I have at least 30 contacts I could call before I use, people that really care, and that’s a big part of my recovery.”

He’s also working on finding healthy ways to manage emotions. He’s taking an anger management class at the Recovery Café and sees a nurse practitioner at Oaklawn who helps with medication-assisted treatment for substance use, as well as medication to manage his bipolar disorder. Being on the right medication makes a world of difference. Back in 2021, he was prescribed Zoloft, which sent him into a manic episode that resulted in legal trouble that’s still ongoing. He feels like he’s on the right medications now, and that helps.

And, instead of moving back in with his girlfriend, he went to the Oxford House Emlya. Having his own space, with everything in its place, is healthier for him. He’s also taken on leadership positions there where he can help others. He now serves as President. He has helped men and women leaving incarceration apply for housing and is using what he learned at Oaklawn to help resolve conflict between residents. He was even chosen to go to Washington, D.C. for the Oxford House World Convention.

He’s an active member of Oaklawn’s Recovery Café and is talking with Oaklawn leaders about starting a peer-led support group for people dealing with thoughts of suicide. He wants to use his experiences to help others.

“I really would like people to see my story and know that no matter how bad it is, no matter where you’re at in addiction, the rock bottom or the lowest of the low, you can pull yourself up out of there,” he said. “With the help of everybody around here, with the help of other recovering addicts and recovery coaches, but you got to want it and you got to wake up every day and make that choice.”

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