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COVID-19: Changing Our Lives | April 1: Staying connected

All of us are affected by forced isolation, but being disconnected is an even bigger danger for those battling with sobriety.

HOLLAND, Ohio — None of us likes being away from our family and friends.

But for others, the distancing can be a potentially fatal scenario for those dealing with addiction issues.

"When you don't have the tools, you continually play this tape in your head ...  that you aren't worth saving," Victoria Ortega says. "Once that becomes an ... isolation becomes a big issue, and it can lead to suicide. 

Ortega is a client at Racing for Recovery in Holland, dealing with past alcohol issues. While many businesses are shut down, Racing for Recovery is continuing to do individual counseling, some group meetings, and classes - all with social distancing in mind.

She says the program is essential for those in recovery.

On Tuesday, the Ohio Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services Director Lori Criss said that those in recovery must stay connected. Michael Hofbauer agrees. He has battled substance abuse issues and relies on the classes and counseling at Racing for Recovery to help him through the pandemic.

He also runs in the MetroParks with others in the program.

"Even as things started shutting down, we found ways to stay connected. Rather than do the mile loop here, we were able to go to the MetroParks. Even seeing people at the MetroParks was awesome," Hofbauer says.

For Ortega, she stays connected with others in recovery through group meetings, nutritional classes, and on social media.

She's brutally honest. The support and counseling is helping to save her life.

"For introverts, it's so easy to be by themselves and stay connected to themselves," she says. "For us, it sends you on a trip you don't want to be in."


  • Michigan overtakes California in total coronavirus cases. Michigan is now No. 3 in the U.S. with 9,334 cases, including 337 deaths. Detroit has 2,472 cases and 83 deaths.
  • Lucas County reports that five people in the county have died. Ohio has 67 deaths and 2,547 total cases.
  • New York City surpasses 1,000 deaths. The entire state has 1,941 deaths and more than 83,000 cases
  • Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signs an order asking lenders and landlords to suspend payments for 90 days for small businesses.


Send us your stories about dealing with the pandemic - family times, financial struggles, fear and anxieties. Stories or short videos can be sent to blog@wtol.com.

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