According to the National Center for Drug Abuse statistics, 9.5 million adults have both a substance abuse disorder and a mental illness. For those battling an addiction it can sometimes seem impossible to overcome. And for their families it is a tough battle to help a loved one through.
After 15 times in recovery, a Traverse City man started a podcast to help him cope with his new way of life.
Corey Winfield has been behind the microphone for over 20 years. He’s hosted successful radio shows in Texas, Arkansas and here in Michigan.
But when the on-air light turned off….
“I would go home, I would drink hardcore,” Corey said. “Pass out and then do it again.”
It wasn’t until a serious health scare that Corey came to a hard realization.
In January of 2015 Corey’s liver and kidneys shut down. At just 36 years old, he was in renal failure.
“They said if I would have went home that night and went to bed- I would have died. I wouldn’t have woken up,” Corey said. “I was in the hospital almost a month. That’s a wakeup call.”
He decided he was going to stop drinking– at least he thought that’s how this worked…
But then a few weeks go by…
“I thought I could have a beer again,” Corey said. “Those doctors they’re just trying to kill my fun.”
Between 2015 and 2019, Corey had entered treatment 14 times.
Then, a run in with the law, forced him into treatment for a 15th time— this time in Northern Michigan.
“I went in with a different attitude,” Corey said. “When I was in there I thought, okay I could be the guy sitting in the corner ‘I don’t want to be here’ or I can think about it- I’m going to have fun in recovery and I’m going to learn about myself.”
His room number where everything started to stick— 217.
“I started thinking ‘what do I put above drinking?’ Not family, sorry mom. It wasn’t family, it wasn’t relationships, it wasn’t my cat– nothing,” Corey said. “Except when I was on the radio.”
And that’s when it hit him.
“It’s for me, it’s in my blood,” Corey said. “The one thing that I put above alcohol was being on the air.”
He started his podcast. 217 Recovery, as a way for him to cope in the early days of his recovery.
But the podcast caught on and now about 3 years later, with over 600 episodes, it’s helping people in recovery and their families cope too.
“From the first episode, I had a vision. It was because I felt like I had purpose with it,” Corey said. “I was given hope by that one person- and you never know what person is going to give you that hope.”
Now, he’s giving hope in more ways than one.
“I started noticing too; different holes in the system,” Corey said.
217 Recovery is now also a non-profit and Corey is certified by the state to help transport people in need to recovery centers.
Often driving hours to pick someone up in crisis and taking them hours away to seek treatment.
“There are people who just don’t have options and they need somebody to rely on that can get them there,” said Krysteena Burfield, the director of community based services for Addiction Treatment Services in Traverse City.
“He’s able to not only give them a ride- but talk to them about it’s gonna go, what it’s going to be like, you’re going to make it through, it’s going to be okay,” Krysteena said. “(It’s) not just give them a ride, but make a difference on the way there before they even step in the door.”
Nearly 200 rides in it’s all about one thing for Corey…
“Just sharing my experiences with people and that the thing about addiction and all of our stories- they’re all so similar,” Corey said.
To learn more about 217 Recovery,
To learn more about Addiction Treatment Services,
To find a chapter of Families Against Narcotics,
Families Against Narcotics and Addiction Treatment Services have partnered together with the Traverse Area District Library to host
The has a free, confidential 24/7, 365-day treatment and referral service available for individuals and families at 1-800-662-4357.