Charlie LeVoir is the host of The Way Out Podcast. He describes himself as an alcoholic from the first drink. We discuss his addiction and recovery and why he had to do whatever it took to get sober.
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I had the benefit of a surrender moment and a deep, deep desire to never feel that way again.” – Charles LeVoir
Since promoting my book, I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many interesting people and I have to say, hands down, my favorite interview was with Charles LeVoir on his show, The Way Out Podcast.
Charlie and I really clicked and are so aligned in how we view recovery, our sobriety, and the work of recovery. After having a fantastic time on his show, I knew I had to have him here. So today, Charles LeVoir is joining us to share his incredible story.
About Charles LeVoir
Charlie LeVoir has been in long-term recovery from alcoholism and addiction since 2014. Born and raised in the Twin Cities, recovery for Charles began with a 12-Step program and fellowship and hearing other people’s stories of Recovery in and out of the rooms of recovery is what first gave him hope that he too could recover and that he didn’t have to do this alone any longer if I didn’t want to. As a result of being transformed by the power of people authentically and vulnerably sharing their recovery stories, he was inspired to create a way for others to do the same. Thus, The Way Out Podcast was born. He is the Creator, host, and producer of The Way Out Podcast since its inception in 2016, where he and my co-host Jason Rudeen along with hundreds of others have Recovered Out Loud so that others might recover too. His sobriety and recovery podcast brings audiences sobriety power topics and powerful recovery stories to jump-start their Sobriety and enhances their Recovery.
Charles LeVoir remembers his early childhood as an idyllic time living in the suburbs of Minneapolis. His mom was a librarian on the bookmobile which allowed her to spend a lot of time with Charlie and his brothers and his memories are filled with great food and good times with his family.
When he was nine years old, it all changed. His mother was diagnosed with cancer and despite her obviously deteriorating health, his dad kept telling the kids she would get better, which made for a very confusing situation for a young child.
Finally, when Charlie was 11, she died of breast cancer.
“I just remember a lot of really overpowering emotions that I didn’t know what to do with.” – Charles LeVoir
His mother’s death was a complete and total upheaval of everything he and his brothers thought to be true and his world was turned upside down.
Charlie continued down a dark path and around age 14 he discovered alcohol while at an unsupervised party at his friend’s house.
It was problematic from the start.
“I can vividly remember the feeling I got as I was on my way to getting drunk for the very first time – total and complete freedom. An immediate thought came into my psyche: Where has this been?” – Charles LeVoir
That party ended up an unmitigated disaster. While he was drinking as much as he possibly could, his friends tried to cut him off. Ultimately, his behavior was so unmanageable that they had to lock him in a dog kennel outside.
After that, Charlie recognized alcohol as the key to the life he wanted. Not only did it get rid of the “icky emotions” – depression, anxiety, insecurity – but it also unlocked a side of himself he had never been able to embrace. He could now stand up to the bullies and could flirt with the girls.
Looking back, Charlie believes the seeds of addiction were around long before his mom died and before alcohol, it showed up with him using food as a comfort when he felt difficult emotions.
Getting to sobriety wasn’t a straight path for Charlie.
After that party, his parents recognized he had a problem and sent him to treatment. But once there, he told the counselors whatever they wanted to hear so get back out and get to using as soon as possible.
“I remember very vividly as I’m about to coin out, the head treatment counselor says, “You’re lying to yourself, you’re lying to this group, you’re going to use again, and it’s probably going to kill you.”” – Charles LeVoir
Even knowing she saw right through him, he was undeterred. But after leaving treatment, every time he ran into a consequence related to drinking or his addiction, he’d hear her voice in his head.
“I really wrestled with it because I didn’t want to be an addict. I desperately needed to feel okay.” – Charles LeVoir
This on and off recovery continued for years and Charlie convinced himself he had a handle on it and he wasn’t one of “those people” who had a problem.
Over the next 20 years Charlie says he kept running into two indisputable truths:
- Over any length of time, my drinking and addictions will become unmanageable via some internal or external consequence.
- Over any length of time, I can’t stay sober by myself, because life will become unmanageable and I will get to an internal state that leaves me with no choice but to pick up again.
These two competing truths finally culminated in a crisis in December of 2014 on the back end of a third marriage.
“I made a fool of myself and almost cut my hand off carving the turkey. My folks leave and my wife looks at me and says “What is wrong with you?” She wasn’t trying to be mean or anything, she really wanted to know. And my older son looked at her and looked at me and said, “What do you mean? It’s just Dad. He’s just drunk again.”” – Charles LeVoir
Hearing that from his son shattered the illusions he had been forcing on himself for so many years.
While he was desperately trying to hide his addictions from everyone, they already knew. His wife knew, his kids knew, his employer knew. And everything was hanging by a thread.
“I was the last one to understand that everybody knew.” – Charles LeVoir
Desperate not to get divorced yet again, Charle went back to treatment.
There, he finally had his surrender moment and for the first time admitted to himself and another human being the full scope and nature of his addiction and alcoholism.
That was that first turning point where Charlie started to actually be willing to do whatever it took to get better.
In that program, he had a number of breakthroughs that opened up a whole new perspective on his life.
The first was that the other people he met in the program and fellowship were just like him. They thought what he thought and felt what he felt and did what he did and they got better.
The second was that the God of his understanding doesn’t change other people. That it was in fact him who was changing how he relates to the world, to other people, to life, and to the circumstances he encountered.
That changed everything.
In addition to the 12-step program, Charlie did EMDR therapy which was transformational for him and he considers critical to his sobriety in helping him to move through the trauma of his mother’s death.
By combining therapy and the 12 steps, Charlie started doing a lot of deep work to understand what was driving his behavior and causing problems in his life and how to work through that to be able to respond differently.
“I recognized that I had agency over that and that I could use tools to be able to respond differently, and thereby create a fundamentally different experience in my life.” – Charles LeVoir
Now, just over 7 years sober Charlie has an amazing girlfriend who is also in recovery, a wonderful relationship with his two sons, and he’s just been promoted to VP of Sales at the organization he’s been with for over 20 years.
Charlie started The Way Out Podcast because he wanted the powerful recovery stories that he heard in 12-step meetings to reach the greater world. He believes that when you recover out loud, you give people the opportunity to identify and also inspire them to understand that recovery is possible for them. He’s proud of the life he’s created and the relationships he’s built and grateful for the impact he’s been able to make on people and their recovery through The Way Out.
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