“My husband and I cant thank all of you enough for the wonderful help, care, support you provided our son during the past year. We are incredibly impressed with the program, and nothing we came across beforehand compares. Our sons case managers were terrific, Jonathan Lowe was a miracle worker, Joe has been a dream to deal with on the final leg, and Lauren has been there for us every step of the way, with awesome guidance. I know you hear this again and again, but you do such amazing work, and we couldnt be more grateful. We dont know, of course, what the future holds for our son but if he has a chance it will be because he spent a year in your care.
a grateful parent
Rec & Lifestyle
From the Family
This past month, clients in Phase 2 of the Mens Program took a trip to iFly in New York. iFly is a unique indoor skydiving experience that simulates skydiving without the staggering height or plane ride. Participants gear up in a helmet and suit and step into a vertical wind tunnel. With the aid of an instructor, clients were able to fly in the tunnel which is designed to simulate free fall conditions.
Ive never done anything like it at all, said James M., Phase 2 client of the Mens Program. Honestly, it was the coolest thing Ive done here.
While many professional skydivers have used these wind tunnels to practice and hone their skills, the sport of bodyflight is becoming more popular and accessible to the general public as iFly and similar locations are popping up throughout the country.
Groups will begin their experience with a brief training until they step into the tunnel to fly. I had tried it once when I was younger, explains client Hayes W. I loved going this time it was a great bonding experience with the boys.
For Braden D., iFly was an exciting opportunity to step out of his comfort zone. It was great, he said. I never thought I could have so much fun in sobriety.
Jimmy M. is the Unsung Hero for the month of April.
Jimmy is currently kitchen staff at Phase 2 of the Men’s Program. He has been working at Turnbridge for almost four years.
“This is the 23rd year of my career cooking. I started when I was 19 and the majority of my career has been spent working in country clubs.” Jimmy began working at Turnbridge after hearing about a job opening from other men in the recovery community.
“It’s so much of a different environment working here. For one, nobody’s going to offer me a drink after my shift,” Jimmy joked. “All kidding aside, it is so rewarding. Here, you see the clients you cook for on a daily basis. They appreciate you and some of them are nice enough to tell you how much they appreciate you. There’s a sense of community.”
Not only does Jimmy share his cooking, but he also shares a message of hope. “You get to build a relationship with these kids. Some of them feel close enough to open up to you and ask you for advice and what you know about recovery. I’ll always be the first one to pass that along because that’s what it’s all about.”
Another part of what makes Turnbridge so special to Jimmy is the staff he works with. “All these people are right there with you. We’ve all gone through the same thing and we’re all just trying to be better people and to help better each other.”
Jimmy’s positive attitude is what makes him such a standout staff member. “I love working here and don’t want to take anything for granted. Turnbridge has been a nice home to me over the years.”
Lauren S. is the mother of current Phase 3 resident of the Women’s Program, Madeline S.
“We’re from the Philadelphia area. We live in a suburb about a half hour away. That’s where Maddie has grown up her entire life. She’s our only child, so she has definitely had us all to herself.” Growing up, Lauren describes her daughter as “very bright, funny and personable.”
Lauren remembers Maddie’s childhood as being “pretty typical” but noticed a change during her teenage years. “I knew something was wrong but I could not figure out what. It was my motherly instinct every bone in my body was saying [Maddie] was not right. She was lying all the time. She wasn’t keeping her commitments. She looked ‘out of it’.”
These signs began to show up right before Maddie went to college. “The summer before she went to college, we asked if she wanted to take a gap year but she wouldn’t even think of that. At the time, I didn’t think it was a substance abuse issue, I just thought she wasn’t ready for school. When she went off to school, she was partying like nobody’s business. I didn’t really know how bad it was.” Before finals at the end of Maddie’s freshman year, she got the flu and went home. “We got lucky,” recalls Lauren. “When I took her home, that’s when she said ‘I think I have a problem’. I was totally shocked because she said she had missed a ton of classes but wasn’t failing anything. She had an academic coach she met with weekly and even she was stunned. We were all definitely taken aback but I felt relieved at the same time.”
Lauren admittedly had no experience with substance abuse or mental illness. “It was the first rodeo in our family- we hadn’t experience this kind of thing. I had not been down that path before. I would say this process was at first very terrifying.” Lauren remembers, “After she told us everything, she'd asked ‘Are you ashamed of me?’ and I said ‘No, I’m grateful that you’re here and you’re alive. You get a second chance.’ That’s when she went to her first [thirty-day program].”
After the thirty-day program, Lauren struggled to find an aftercare program that was suitable for Maddie and her age. They settled on a program in California. “It was fine until it wasn’t fine anymore,” said Lauren. “She signed herself out of the program there and we brought her home. We didn’t realize she needed to immediately go back to treatment. She was back home for two months and had very quickly relapsed. We did not know. We just didn’t understand.”
Of Maddie’s relapse, Lauren said “It was a very scary time for me. I knew she needed another program but I was skeptical because of the lack of recommendations.” Lauren remembered how difficult it was to find a suitable program after Maddie’s initial thirty-day program and wasn’t sure where to turn. Upon recommendation from a therapist, Lauren showed Maddie Turnbridge. Lauren left it up to Maddie to research the program and make a decision. Ultimately, she decided to go. “Within a week of being at Turnbridge, she was pissed,” said Lauren. “She didn’t want to stay long term.” Maddie’s initial resistance worried Lauren, as Maddie had signed herself out of treatment in the past. “I understand kids will [leave treatment] but I also understand that Turnbridge pulls out all the stops.”
Lauren took advantage of the supports put in place for her when Maddie would ask to leave. “The challenge was knowing what to say to her. She wasn’t one of those kids who would harass us on the phone, but instead shed make comments during our visits. It freaked me out because she had left treatment once before. It terrified me because I didn’t know how to take her words.” In these cases, Lauren made sure to reach out for help. “After [the visits] I would immediately call Lauren Springer or [case manager] Cori Wilkes.”
“One night in particular, Maddie did want to leave and Turnbridge [staff] talked her off a ledge and that was it. That was the difference I saw with Turnbridge. There’s an army of people to help at all times and in that situation, they did exactly what they were supposed to do.”
Throughout Maddie’s journey, Lauren made sure to educate herself as much as possible and to utilize the resources made available to her. “I think so much of what Turnbridge offers. Diana Clark and the [Family Healing Workshop] are fantastic. The weekly phone calls with case managers, the fact that I could call Lauren Springer whenever I needed; so helpful. I was just amazed at the accessibility of everybody and they all know your kid. After each monthly care team meeting, I would take notes and type them up and put it in a binder. It’s a huge help to read now if I’m having a moment or need to calm down. I have nine months of information about my own kid and recovery.”
In addition to the learning experience, Lauren is grateful for the support she has from Maddie’s care team. “I don’t have to have those tough conversations with her because [staff] can do that. And rightfully so- the biggest thing I have learned is to keep my mouth shut, meaning, I don’t have to give her my opinion and direction all the time. I’ve learned to give her the freedom to figure it out and she has the staff at Turnbridge steering her in the right direction. It takes a lot of pressure off of me so I can also work on myself.” Since coming to Turnbridge, Lauren notices huge differences in Maddie. “I see a huge change in her. She cares about people now, and isn’t just thinking of herself. She is soon to be 20 years old and when she got to Turnbridge she seemed like more of a 16-year-old. You could see where [substance abuse] had stunted her emotional maturity. Now, I feel like I’ve got my kid back.”
Currently, Maddie is a resident at Phase 3. She just got a car, is in school taking classes and works part time. “She’s working with Logan Keith on school stuff now. She wants to go back full time in the fall. Southern [Connecticut State University] has been a great stepping stone for her. Eventually she'll be ready to transfer to another school and now she has time to figure it out.” “I’m so grateful for this program,” said Lauren. “The people [at Turnbridge] really care.” Lauren emphasizes the importance of taking care of herself during this process as well. “I feel really blessed that this has made us stronger. [My husband and I] told Maddie ‘We are all in recovery with you’ and we are. We are all doing the work, and she knows that.”
Bernie M. is a current Phase 3 resident of the Men’s Program.
Eighteen years old and from Atlanta, Georgia, Bernie recalls his lifestyle before coming to Turnbridge. “It all started out for me smoking weed and stuff and getting caught by my parents. (The drug use) just wouldn’t stop and I started getting into pills. I got addicted to Xanax but I also had other mental health problems. I went to the psych ward last May and then went to a wilderness program. That program recommended Turnbridge so now I’m here.”
Of his substance use Bernie said, “I had moments where I thought ‘Damn, this isn’t normal, I shouldn’t be doing (stuff) like this, none of my friends get high like this’ but I never wanted to stop. I didn’t want to get help. I wasn’t willing to because I just didn’t care about anything so I had no reason to stop.”
His substance use was taking a noticeable toll on his relationship with his family. “I was always having fights with my parents. I just hated being at the house.”
Bernie’s first introduction to treatment was a wilderness program. “My parents just told me to get in the car to go. I had every intention to go there, come back and do the same [stuff] I’d been doing.” His perspective began to change during the program. “I guess I changed my mind halfway through. Then, I thought, ‘Ok I’m going to stop doing pills and when I get home. I’m just going to smoke weed.’ That thought changed essentially after I got to Turnbridge because I realized that wasn’t (realistic)”.
The drastic change in amenities from the wilderness program helped to ease Bernie into the program. “Honestly, getting (to Phase 1) wasn’t that bad because I just got out of wilderness. I had been sleeping in a tent and eating rice every day so I was pretty happy to sleep in a bed and watch TV. At first I was pretty happy about being [at Turnbridge] just because I had all these comforts of life that I didn’t have in wilderness.”
After the allure of the creature comforts wore off, Bernie was reluctant to be in treatment. “After a while, I didn’t want to be there anymore.”
Bernie’s connection with a sober network and 12 step program helped him to change his perspective and gave him the willingness to work on himself. “I finally recognized I had a problem when I realized that when I don’t have something in me, I don’t feel okay. If I don’t get high, I don’t feel okay. When I don’t have drugs to distract me, I don’t feel okay and I’m miserable. The reality was I couldn’t get high (at Turnbridge) so if I did not do something about it and work a program I would continue to feel miserable. That was my reason to give the steps a try and give AA a shot. It really paid off. I found out that a 12 step program can honestly replace drugs for me and give me a sense of inner peace. It works for me the same way drugs did but better and it doesn’t get me in trouble. It doesn’t ruin my life.”
One of Bernie’s biggest struggles so far has been “opening up to people about my problems. I still kind of struggle with that but it was hard especially at first. It was hard for me to admit if I wanted to get high because I didn’t want people to think I was doing worse. Eventually I realized it is good to be honest because it shows I’m getting better and making an effort. That was a big thing I came around to. I learned that even people in sobriety still have cravings, they still have (bad) days and it’s okay to talk to people about that. It’s a part of the process. If I keep that stuff in, things will get worse.”
Bernie is grateful for the staff that have helped him along the way. “I haven’t had a bad case manager. I had Chris Nagle in Phase 1- that dudes the man. Raf (Mercado) was really good in Phase 2 and helped me get a job and stuff. I really had a sense of getting my life on track and started to do things. Sean Howard in Phase 3 has been amazing. He’s a really helpful dude and he cares about the kids he works with. There’s been a lot of really good staff here and dudes that really care.”
Reflecting on his growth during the program, Bernie said, “I’m a lot more active now. It’s come to the point where if I don’t get up and do stuff, I’ll feel bad. A lot of things haven’t changed though that I kind of thought would. When I first got sober, I thought I wasn’t going to be able to listen to the same music or watch the same movies like they wouldn’t be as good if I wasn’t high. I found out I can still enjoy the same things on the same level and I don’t have to get high for it.”
One activity in particular that Bernie is passionate about is rock climbing. “I started climbing around the same time that I started getting high. Now, I’m finishing up high school online and work at a climbing gym.” He plans to continue pursuing climbing after Turnbridge. “Eventually I’d like to move to Chattanooga, Tennessee. It’s the big climbing city in the southeast. I want to work in the climbing industry and be a guide or something. I’m just happy that now I got sober and I can do more of the things I love doing.”
Maddy S. is an alumni of the Women’s Program and current Thrive resident.
Growing up in New Jersey, Maddy discovered drugs and alcohol as a coping tool for her mental illness. “When I was 17 or 18 I started trying drugs and drinking. I was just treating my depression and anxiety in a way that I thought would work. It didn’t,” she explains.
It wasn’t until beginning college and encountering the stresses of academic life that Maddy became visibly affected by her drug and alcohol use. “After high school, I went to college in South Carolina. Then I came home for a year and transferred to a school in Florida. I [used] while I was in South Carolina but when I came home for that year, I only drank a handful of times. I thought I was okay. But then when I got to Florida, I picked it back up and it got worse than it had ever been. At that time, I didn’t feel anything. I just wanted to feel numb.”
During this time, Maddy recalls seeing her relationships with family and friends deteriorate. “I would tell my parents my phone was broken so I didn’t have to talk to them. I switched to a friend group of people that had worse drinking and drug habits so they wouldn’t notice mine.”
As time continued on, her academic life began to suffer as a result. “It was bad when I was going to school, even though I wasn’t [attending class] much at all.” Her professors took notice and the school asked her to take a medical leave. “I didn’t think it would go so far as them telling me to take a medical leave but it did make sense; otherwise I was going to fail out.”
It was at this point that Maddy knew she needed some direction from her parents. “My parents were pretty concerned. My mom came down to Florida and went to the meeting [with the school] with me. I had already gotten a summer job and we decided I would stay in Florida for the rest of the semester until my job started.” Maddy was hopeful she could maintain a normal life without the stresses of school work, but the lack of structure caused her to spiral. “Once I wasn’t going to school at all, it got very bad. I usually would drink and smoke a lot of pot, but then the week before I [went to treatment] I was using a lot of cocaine. I hadn’t been answering my phone [for my parents] but one night after I had lied and said my phone was broken, I called them without realizing. I told them I was hallucinating and hearing things.” Maddy’s parents immediately called local authorities to do a wellness check on her. “They had done one before and this time, it happened to be the same [officer] that checked on me the first time. She saw how bad it had gotten since the last time she was there.”
This turned out the be the first step to Maddy getting help. “I went to the county psych ward. I didn’t think I had to be there at first. The whole time I was there I didn’t think I needed to be there. I was trying to sign myself out and bargaining with my parents but that didn’t work. From there, my mom came and got me and took me to treatment.”
Initially, Maddy was still feeling skeptical about treatment. “I was willing to go [to treatment] because I didn’t know what to do with myself anymore but I didn’t think I had an alcohol problem yet.” She recalls what it felt like getting to Turnbridge. “At first it was very overwhelming. There were a lot of people asking me questions and at that point I wasn’t sure why I was there.”
Phase 1 and 2 proved to be a struggle for her. “In the beginning of Phase 1 it was very hard. I didn’t want to go to groups and it was hard for me to get out of bed. That was a pattern for me for a very long time.” Eventually, in Phase 3, Maddy’s lack of motivation caught up with her and led her to a tough conversation that became a turning point for her. “There was a day [the Phase 3 director] came and talked to me. I remember her saying if I didn’t get up and do something with myself, I would have to go back to [Phase 1].” It was this conversation that sparked a change in Maddy and she made an honest effort to find a job and actively engage in life. “I had a job at a daycare a week later,” said Maddy. “Now, I still work at a daycare and go to school for early childhood education.”
From this point forward, Maddy’s life has been heading in a positive direction. “I realized I really needed to be here and I couldn’t live like I used to live before.” She’s now a resident at Thrive and expresses her gratitude for her experience at Turnbridge. “I was able to meet people and make friends. My friends now are people who actually support me. For once, I’m not just surrounding myself with people who are sicker than me that I have to take care of. Now, I take care of [my friends] and they take care of me.”
Of her mental health issues, Maddy notes two staff members who were essential in helping her develop positive coping skills. “[Resident Liaison] Lauren Tiede helped me so much. My anxiety and depression were so bad at [Phase 1] and she always knew when I was struggling. She’d take me for a drive with her when I was anxious and helped me to take a moment away from people to talk it out. [Phase 3 Director] Dani Bousquet has also helped me so much with my anxiety. She was my case manager for all of Phase 3 and to this day, if I need something, I know she’ll always pick up the phone. That’s really important to me.”
Learning to form healthy relationships with peers and staff has also given Maddy the tools to repair the bond with her family. “Now, I love to talk and hang out with them. I talk to my parents at least once a day. This past weekend I went home to hang out with them just because I wanted to. It used to be that we needed to figure out what was wrong all the time, but now we just focus on me being happy and doing what I’m doing.”
21 MONTHS Benjamin P.
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