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Matt Bell and Team Recovery: a personal fight against a public health crisis

While Ohio’s opioid epidemic remains a severe public health issue, stories like Matt’s remind us of the importance of personal and communal resilience in the face of crisis.

Photo courtesy Matt Bell
Photo courtesy Matt Bell

Opinions expressed by Digital Journal contributors are their own.

The opioid epidemic in Ohio has left an indelible mark on countless lives. However, for some, it has become a rallying cry for change. Matt Bell’s story is one such tale, charting a course from addiction’s bottomless pits to become a beacon of hope and recovery in his community.

Born and raised in Ohio, Bell’s life was derailed by an addiction that he describes as all-encompassing, a plight shared by many. “Addiction is not this dirty little secret that happens to poor people, or inner-city people, or black people, or white people, or uneducated people or anything,” he explains. “It just happens to people. And it’s happening more and more every single day.”

Alarming statistics confirm the grim reality of the public health crisis, which is the opioid use epidemic. Data made available by the Ohio Department of Health shows that opioid-related overdose deaths have been rising after a slight dip in 2018. In 2021, 4,313 Ohioans lost their lives to it.

The fact that he could have easily been a part of that tragic statistic hasn’t been lost on Matt Bell. Even though he picked up his life and made a remarkable recovery, memories of the tough times are still present in the streets he walks daily.

“There’s not a street that I drive by without having some sort of negative memory associated with it,” he recalls. “I used on every street corner. I either got robbed on that street, or I had to rob somebody, or I picked up heroin on that street, and that’s the time that I overdosed.”

But Matt Bell managed to claw his way back into a life he never believed was available. It took no less than 28 rehab stays and a lot of work to get back on track. It took counseling, petitioning governors to get his driving license back, and honesty and openness, but he got there. And Matt wants to help other Ohioans get there, too.

Team Recovery, the organization he co-founded in 2015, didn’t start as a treatment center. In its early years, it was primarily a volunteer operation. However, it evolved and was licensed as a treatment center over time. The organization’s evolution mirrors Matt’s journey, from an individual battling addiction to a champion of recovery and a beacon of hope for others.

Matt Bell also notes the importance of a treatment approach that prioritizes the individual’s needs and isn’t solely driven by marketing or profit. His treatment center reflects these beliefs, boasting a team of the best professionals he encountered during his numerous stints in other treatment centers. The focus is on compassionate, comprehensive care, from nursing staff to legal and operations personnel, to provide the best opportunity for patients to heal.

“I brought in the best people from every treatment center in every position at Team Recovery. It’s because I know them,” he explains. “I have to get the best output because this is my home. So these people coming in, I know them. I know them directly or their parents, and that’s why they referred them to me.”

While Ohio’s opioid epidemic remains a severe public health issue, stories like Matt’s remind us of the importance of personal and communal resilience in the face of crisis. His journey from addiction to recovery — and now his role in helping others on the same path — sheds light on the complexity of the epidemic and the urgent need for solutions that are as human as the people they aim to help.

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Written By

Jon Stojan is a professional writer based in Wisconsin. He guides editorial teams consisting of writers across the US to help them become more skilled and diverse writers. In his free time he enjoys spending time with his wife and children.

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