JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Some people fear hurricanes. Tracy Collins used to embrace them.

“Hurricanes would come and for three or four days I would think of it as a staycation for one,” says the former local TV personality best known by the name Tracy Dot Com. “Isolation was my friend.”

When hurricanes struck, she says, she would hole up and party. 

“I was binge drinking to the point of blacking out and passing out, basically waking up and drinking enough to blackout and pass out again,” she said.

Collins will be three years sober this Friday, and in that time, she’s been extraordinarily transparent about her journey – publishing a book about her experience and even sharing difficult-to-watch videos of her lowest moments. She is in a good place now and is not tempted to return to her old ways. 

“My mind immediately goes to the end result, which is blackout and pass out -- and that is not pretty,” Collins says.

She worries about the impact of forced isolation on addicts and those in recovery. In a recent Facebook post, she wrote, “I wouldn’t have survived this pandemic.”

“You cannot give this tricky, tricky disease one inch -- because it will take a mile,” Collins says. “You have to stay connected with other sober people.”

It’s advice echoed by Dr. Brian Jackson, who coauthored Collins’ book, “Stumbling Into Sobriety.”

When asked for his top three suggestions for people with addiction issues in the coming weeks, he says, “Stay connected. Stay connected. Stay connected.”

He notes that people living with addiction often use alcohol or drugs to cope with reality. 

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“And reality right now for a lot of people is scary,” Jackson says. “Feeling isolated and alone and scared is not a good place to be.”

He notes that there are many ways to connect, including online AA meetings and telephone counselors. He suggests anyone wanting to reach someone for support to contact the Northeast Florida Intergroup services. Their phone line is open 24 hours a day at (904) 399-8535, and their website offers a guide to online support meetings. Collins urges anyone struggling with addiction to know there is help out there.

“There are people sitting at home right now who are literally killing themselves," she says. "And all they have to do is pick up the phone. You’re never too far gone as long as you can still pick up the phone.”

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