Addiction and COVID-19

Collaborator: Rachael Schuit
Published: 12/29/2020, 7:08 PM
Edited: 03/11/2021, 10:22 AM
(TRAVERSE CITY, Mich.) The year 2020 is one many people will never forget. Thousands of people have died from COVID-19, many are out of work, and many have been working from home and going to school virtually. Another group that's been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic: people struggling with addiction and people in recovery. "It's difficult to connect virtually like this, you know. Yes, you can still can still connect but it's not the same as that in person connection," said Madie Begley, a Recovery Coordinator at the PORCH, a community center through Addiction Treatment Services in Traverse City. Begley has been in recovery for almost four years and says the stress and isolation has been difficult for people struggling with addiction as well as those in recovery. "I am seeing a lot more people reach out for peer recovery coaches," said Begley. Matt Zerilli has been in recovery more than 15 years. He's the Community Center Manager at the PORCH and said the effects of the stress are seen in Michigan's 2020 overdose numbers. "We're seeing overdose rates higher over 20 percent over the last year, overdose deaths. We've seen EMS responses due to overdose 40, mid 40's, 45 percent above last year," said Zerilli. Despite the challenges of the isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, both Begley and Zerilli have been staying connected to others in socially distanced ways and virtually. In December they participated in outdoor holiday caroling events outside of recovery houses in Traverse City. They're also hosting events and meetings virtually using the PORCH's Facebook page. "We're having some dancing classes, we're doing a talent show," said Zerilli. Zerilli and Begley say they're willing to connect with anyone who wants to reach out for help. They also have a message for anyone struggling with addiction or their recovery. "We're peers, we've been through it and we can just be that ear that can listen to you, kinda help share what worked for us and help you find what will work for you," said Zerilli. "All you have to do is one day at a time, just stay sober today, reach out for help," said Begley. "There are people who are actively looking to help." For more information, visit


This story has no comments yet