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He Once Struggled with Addiction. Now He Helps Others Navigate Recovery

Jordan Wanat
Jordan Wanat, Recovery Navigator
By Erika Ayn Finch

Jordan Wanat knows firsthand the struggles of battling addiction, and he’s using that knowledge to help others through his involvement in Minnesota Recovery Corps. The AmeriCorps program is designed specifically for people with direct or indirect experience with a substance use disorder to serve other individuals who are trying to sustain their own recovery. Jordan began his service in September. He can be found five days a week at Minnesota Recovery Connection in St. Paul.

Jordan Wanat
Jordan Wanat, Recovery Navigator

Jordan learned about Recovery Corps when he was volunteering at Minnesota Recovery Connection and applied to serve with the program. Recovery Corps valued his past struggles and ability to relate well to others having the same issues with substance abuse. He now serves full time helping people who are battling addiction find the right resources. He also serves friends and family members concerned about their loved ones.

“Everything they are going through are the things I went through and the things my family went through,” says Jordan. “I can empathize with them, and I share my own experiences, which I think gives people hope.” 

When Jordan was a teenager, he started smoking marijuana. That led to experimenting with prescription pills in high school.  

“By the time I was 15, I was shooting heroin and had dropped out of school,” says Jordan.

A heroin addiction morphed into struggles with alcohol and, eventually, meth. Jordan ultimately hit rock bottom. Realizing he needed to change his life drastically, he entered recovery.

Sober for a year and a half, Jordan, 25, now has his GED along with aspirations of going to college to study psychology and neuroscience, specifically the science behind addiction and mental health. He says his relationship with his family went from practically nonexistent to one of love, support and friendship.

“My dad is my best friend, and I talk to my sisters on a daily basis,” Jordan says. “They always tell me that they are proud of me.”

Jordan partially attributes his long-term recovery to his experience with Recovery Corps. He says he’s especially moved by the families he encounters, like the mom who reached out with concerns about her son.

“He and I are close in age and with a similar story,” says Jordan. “He was sober but then had a bad auto accident and lost his foot. He went on pills for the pain and relapsed. I helped him find a treatment plan and get back into recovery. And I introduced his mom to a family-support group. I still talk to both of them every week.”

Helping others navigate the road to recovery can be stressful, but Jordan stays positive by attending support groups and writing poetry and short stories. “My mom is a published writer, so I guess it’s in my blood,” he says. “It takes my mind off things and helps me escape.” 

For those curious about Recovery Corps, Jordan invites them to stop by Minnesota Recovery Connection in St. Paul. “Come see the bigger picture of what goes on and what we are doing,” he says.

For more information about how you can serve in Recovery Corps, visit this website.

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