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Social distancing especially hard for recovering addicts in northern Michigan

Isolation is one of the biggest triggers for people in addiction recovery, which is why socially distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic is especially hard time for some. That’s why Addiction Treatment Services in Traverse City is ramping up its virtual outreach efforts.


“The opposite of addiction isn’t necessarily abstinence, the opposite of addiction is connection,” says Matt Zerilli, Recovery Center Manager at ATS. 


Zerilli says feelings of guilt and shame around addictive behavior often drive people into isolation.

To help combat those feelings, he co-hosts a Facebook live check-in every weekday morning to help people stay connected and cope with being alone. Together, he and his co-host talk about mindfulness, interview other people in the community, and even do yoga among other interactive activities.

“We try to really have a supportive community feeling around recovery, and of course it’s challenging when you have to physically distance,” he says. “But it’s really forced people to find those connections in whatever way they can, to check in with their people more, to be more aware of that low level of stress that we’re all experiencing right now with the lack of connection and really try to find a way to cope with that on a daily basis.”


All of the ATS services are still operating in some form or another, Zerilli says, including those which are in-patient.


He worries about the impact increased drug and alcohol use could have during and after the coronavirus crisis. 


“We are preparing for what we can only anticipate to be a large spike in service use after the pandemic,” he says.

Dan Wanschura is the Host and Executive Producer of Points North.