Known as Coach Mike to his fellow runners, Brookline resident Mike Ferullo is inspiring people in recovery to lace up their sneakers and run their way to health. Ferullo, a clinical social worker with a practice in Brookline, has stepped outside the traditional means of treating addiction by incorporating wellness into the recovery process.

From his own personal experiences battling addiction, Ferullo pursued running as a physical outlet to escape the stress of being in recovery. Since discovering his passion and identity as a runner, running has become a regular part of Ferullo’s life. As a social worker, Ferullo has not only advised and guided former addicts through their recovery, but has inspired them to find their potential through running.

“Running is a transformative process, it allows you to be honest with yourself,” Ferullo said. “Through the discipline of running, you help yourself through the struggles of your recovery.”

In October 2015 Ferullo established a non-profit run club, The Boston Bulldogs, to support recovering addicts, along with their friends, family, and communities. The Bulldogs gather at the Chestnut Hill Reservoir on Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings for their weekly runs. Ferullo’s mission has brought together a diverse community of runners, from beginners to experienced marathon runners. The weekly meetings not only provide members support and encouragement, but an opportunity to connect and engage with one another.

Through his running club, Mike Ferullo has created a platform to promote wellness among addicts. Ferullo’s concept of wellness and addiction encompasses owning and understanding oneself – mentally, physically, and spiritually.

The support of Ferullo and his community of runners has helped to empower individuals to take responsibility and break away from their addictive behaviors.

“Incorporating running during early recovery along with counseling has not only been beneficial to members going through recovery, but for families and friends who are affected by addiction,” said Ferullo.

Ferullo believes that “community is healing.” The Boston Bulldogs held their inaugural 5K Run For Recovery on May 22 as a tribute to those who have lost their lives to addiction and for their family and friends. The event drew more than 400 runners, families, friends, sponsors, and volunteers.

Boston Bulldog member Mary McManus described the event as “a day of celebration, of wellness, of health, healing, hope, recovery, grieving, friendship and the power of community.”

With the number of opioid overdose death rates on the rise, it is important to bring awareness to the issues surrounding drug addiction and recovery. Opioid addiction is a community problem. Ferullo has done the work to break down the stigma surrounding addiction by educating the community and encouraging recovering addicts to take ownership of their recovery through running.

“The issues of addiction and substance abuse are complex and require a constellation of strategies to address,” said Dr. Alan Balsam, Director of Public Health and Human Services for the Town of Brookline. “That’s why I’m so glad to support the Bulldogs in their inspiring work to build community and reach those in need with a powerful and positive message of hope.”

To join the Boston Bulldogs on upcoming runs or for more information, visit their website.