Addiction issues plagued Levi Williams ever since he was a teenager. Now he’s clean, and SkillsUSA’s made a difference.
“In high school, I started drinking and going to parties and stuff,” he remembers, “and then after I got out of high school, I just kind of escalated my drinking. I went from like, ‘every once in a while’ to like, ‘almost every day.’ Then when I was probably 22, 23, I started doing drugs.”
Williams says he started with prescription opiates including morphine and OxyContin and then moved on to heroin. “I’ve tried just about everything there probably is to offer. It got pretty bad. I had to have it every day.
“I had a child in 2009; it didn’t deter me from doing drugs at all. I still did them every day. I got arrested in 2012 and went to court.” Even after being put on probation, “that did not deter me from doing drugs,” he adds. “I can remember being in the probation office high. They never drug tested me, so I didn’t really care at the time.
“About a year later, I got arrested again, while I was on probation. And they told me, ‘Well, more than likely, you’re going to go to prison for seven years.’ I got a chance to get into a drug court program.
I jumped at that.”
Still, Williams says he didn’t take the program seriously and consumed alcohol all the time. Six months in, court officials did a home visit and found him drunk and high. He was incarcerated for 20 days and says he realized, “ ‘This is not where I want to be in my life.’ I was almost 30 years old at the time.”
Once released, he enrolled at Wes Watkins Technology Center in Wetumka, Okla. Williams had never heard of SkillsUSA before, and at first, joining seemed ridiculous. “I’m a grown man,” he remembers thinking. “It just didn’t really sound amusing to me at all.”
When the drug court officials pressured him into working and paying taxes, Williams took a job at a hardware store. To meet court requirements, he’d work early in the morning, then go to school and return to the job afterward.
He gave SkillsUSA competitions a chance and went to regionals for Carpentry, then returned to win in Job Interview. At the state championships, he tried Plumbing and won twice. Now a two-time national contestant, he’s also participated in SkillsUSA Leverage training.
Williams now studies building maintenance technology and serves as the college/postsecondary representative for SkillsUSA Oklahoma’s eastern region. Membership has given him purpose and helped him stay clean. He owes a lot to his teachers, whom he calls “the best people in the world.”
“It’s like a giant family,” he adds, emphasizing that students need to know SkillsUSA is the best way to get your future started.