Local man continues to inspire others facing addiction with story of recovery during pandemic

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Posted at 8:52 PM, Mar 01, 2021

In February 2020, Matt Peterson was excited for the release of his book, “BACK ON TRACKmarks: From Hopeless to Dopeless.” It chronicled his battle with opioid addiction since age 11. Now, he couldn’t have imagined the toll the pandemic would take on people dealing with the same issue – so he’s using technology to stay connected and lend support.

“I reached that point where I didn’t want to live anymore because I didn’t know there was anything beyond that,” said Peterson, now a substance abuse counselor at Brightview in Fairfield.

He said he’s experienced some very low points as he wrote about it.

“The first part is my story and my experience with my friend, Kyle,” Peterson said. “We did everything together. We started using, moved on to heroin together, shot heroin together.”

The coronavirus pandemic put a stop to his plans to take his story on the road.

“As soon as people found out I had a book and I was an author, I started getting emails and messages about different events,” Peterson said.

As overdose deaths rose nationally, people like Peterson and groups like Hamilton County Addiction Response Coalition shared a mission to save lives – and embraced technology to connect with people.

“To have a trend that did not go up during the pandemic as it did in so many communities, is an achievement,” Hamilton County Addiction Response Coalition executive chairperson Denise Driehaus said. “It’s a sobering achievement because we still lost over 400 people in Hamilton County.”

Peterson used social media and live streams to talk about his sobriety. He also created a website with resources and a blog to share his message of hope.

“It’s amazing to look back from where I used to be and now I’m the example of what recovery looks like and I’m the hope shot for those people who feel hopeless themselves,” he said.

Peterson’s advice for those struggling to cope with loneliness and depression is to have some sort of coping skills or activity: “Get on a Zoom meeting, make a phone call or meet up with your mother for lunch,” he said. “I bought a kitten.”

Peterson is working on a degree in psychology and has already started his second book – this one will focus on what families of someone actively facing addiction need to know.