Mythbuster: Michael Levin

An active leader in collegiate recovery who is dedicated to raising awareness and shattering the myths about addiction and recovery in young people.

Michael Levin has experienced first-hand how the increased freedom, diminished oversight, and better access to drugs and alcohol, which come with going to college, can greatly impact an individual and send them on a path of self-destruction. Now, as someone in long-term recovery, Michael is determined to help others who may be struggling, but are too afraid to come forward and ask for help due to the stigma that surrounds addiction.

After treatment at Caron Renaissance, when Michael returned to college, there was only one individual involved in the Vanderbilt Recovery Support (VRS) group. In the past year and a half, Michael, who is now the Undergraduate Representative on the Planning Committee for VRS and the Social and Service Coordinator, collaborates with various university administrators to coordinate and facilitate the group, and has overseen the expansion of the group to about 20 students, who regularly attend meetings.

Michael strives to reduce the stigma of addiction and shatter the preconceived myths and notions people may have about young people, addiction, and recovery:

Myth:  Young people can't possibly be addicts, so they don't need recovery.  

Fact: Michael knows first hand that addiction can affect anyone, regardless of age. He is working to grow the recovery program at  his college to engage more students in recovery through programming, such as social events (dinners, movie nights, etc) and volunteering. Michael believes young people undoubtedly need recovery; a strong peer support network at school can be and invaluable resource. His work strengthens that network.

Myth: A college culture which supports irresponsibly excessive drinking and drugging can't ever be changed.

Fact: Michael is currently working with his school’s administration to create sober housing on campus. He is also involved in strategic initiatives, such as the “Commons Community Coalition,” aimed at redirecting focus away from the college drinking culture, especially for first-year students. Michael was also a panelist on the “Vanderbilt Unspeakables” discussion series, fostering candid and open discussion about real issues on campus, such as substance abuse.

Myth: College students in recovery are too few and far between the find or support each other.

Fact: Michael has been able to grow a recovery system within his school where those in recovery can support each other. In addition, he has worked with a charity called Clean Break, which coordinates sober spring break trips for college students, and Good Clean Fun, a group that specializes in sober parties; they  had over 200 people attend last year’s New Years Eve party.

Michael is a recovering addict. The process of recovery is not an easy one. He was able to transition from misery and not actually living to flourishing. He is excited about the possibility of using his own experience to help others on the path to recovery. Michael couldn’t have done it alone; recovering from his own addiction required individualized treatment followed by structure of support and help from other people to reconstruct his life in a positive and healthy way. He strives daily to pay it forward.

Currently pre-med, Michael is working in an pharmacology lab researching cocaine addiction. He plans to specialize in addiction medicine so he can help even more of those who suffer from the disease.



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