“Jesse is doing so well there. All the involved staff have gone out of their way to comment on his great strides, and the fact that he's quite a role model for some of the younger residents. This makes me so happy for him. It’s so nice to finally see him in a place that he is comfortable, away from the strife he was experiencing here with his employment/family/drug issues. This is a needed restorative time for him and I see great things in his future. He loves it there, loves the friendships, the attention he gets, the leadership role models... everything!”
From the Family Unsung Heros
Kat H. is a current client in Phase III of the Turnbridge Women’s Program.
Kat grew up in Los Angeles, but moved to Newport, Rhode Island shortly after her parents split. Kat recalls struggling a lot with her parents’ divorce. “I had a lot of anxiety and mental health issues that really started to bubble up when my parents got a divorce,” said Kat. Dealing with mental health issues at such a young age was very difficult for Kat, and she began seeing a therapist. “There was a year in 6th grade where I never talked to anyone but my therapist,” said Kat.
As Kat got older, she began reaching for external things to help her cope with both her emotional turmoil and her mental health. “High school was really where I started to look for outside sources to deal with my anxiety, so that’s really when I started drinking,” said Kat. “During my junior year of high school I ended up going on a bunch of trips, and that’s when I started having manic episodes. I learned about what bipolar disorder was and it really scared my family into trying to learn more about mental health and addiction.”
“During my senior year I started new medications and I tried to be sober for a little bit,” said Kat. “I think I was sober for about 6 months. But, when I got stressed out about college I ended up relapsing. When I went off to college at George Washington University, that’s when my addiction flourished. I met someone who was heavily into drugs and I stopped taking my medications. I ended up in the hospital every other week, with alcohol poisoning and other drug issues.”
“At 18 years old I ended up going to treatment in Texas,” said Kat. “After that, I was in and out of treatment for the next five years. I kept on relapsing. I couldn’t do it on my own. I only dabbled in AA. I had a hard time realizing that I had a problem with addiction. I thought it was just college partying and my problem was just mental health.”
“At one point, when I was living in recovery houses in Florida, my addiction really took me to my knees,” said Kat. “I got kicked out of recovery house, I kept on relapsing, and I was estranged from my parents. I wouldn’t answer their calls. I even totaled three cars. I was doing whatever I could to get my next high.”
After Kat’s mom filed a missing person’s report in Orlando, she finally made contact with Kat. “My mom got ahold of me and I went to a treatment center in Baltimore, Maryland and that's where I got sober. My story is a little different because I came to Turnbridge with some time. I came to Turnbridge on my one year sober anniversary. I was working in a recovery center and living in a recovery house. Then I stopped taking my medications. I stopped showing up for work. I stopped showing up for my family. And ended up having a mental breakdown.”
“I really needed something that held me accountable for a long period of time,” said Kat. “I got to Turnbridge on October 27th and I have been here for ten months now and Turnbridge has completely turned my life around. I had no relationship with my family, my sister wouldn’t talk to me, and I had lost all my friends from my old recovery house.”
Turnbridge, for Kat, was a place that she could spend some time connecting with herself and getting to the root of her issues. “I really struggled with identifying who I was and how my addiction and my mental health defined me,” said Kat. “One of the biggest things I’m grateful for at Turnbridge is they showed me how to re-engage with life and how to be a responsible adult. I have made super close friendships here that I am pretty sure are going to last forever. I’m open and honest about what I am struggling with. I always used to try to hide my depression, or when I thought I was going manic.”
“Turnbridge just keeps me accountable in every part of my life,” said Kat. “I am finally on a stable medication regimen. It has taken me a while but I finally learned how to be okay with being stable. I was so used to the ups and downs of life that being stable was a foreign concept to me. Turnbridge has really prepared me for what a stable and successful life looks like.”
Along with Kat making progress in her mental health, she really started to engage in the sober community and come to terms with her alcoholism.“I am really involved with AA now,” said Kat. “I have a sponsor, I work the steps, and I am actually on step nine right now. I am starting to make amends to people. It’s been really beneficial for me to let go of the past.”
“Another thing that Turnbridge has given me is a crazy amount of support,” said Kat. “I've never been in a place where the people care as much as the staff does here. I can rely on my therapist for anything. If anything happens the support staff is always there to pick me back up. I’ll be forever grateful for my time here.”
“I am going to Thrive, Turnbridge’s sober living, after I graduate the program,” said Kat. “I think it would be kind of cool to be Turnbridge staff and work in a support staff role because I really admired the women in those roles when I was a client. I’m excited for what the future brings, and I feel ready to prep for the future.
Jeff Lemieux and Alex Cruz
Jeff Lemieux is a support staff member in Phase I of the Turnbridge Men’s Program and a strong member of the local recovery community. “I am in my fourth year of sobriety,” shared Jeff. “Most of my life I was an auto mechanic. In my first year of recovery, I took a year off and just focused on myself. Around a year sober I got a job as a mechanic, but something was missing. I took a recovery coach training at CCAR and while I was learning all that stuff, I just started to feel like it could bring purpose and meaning to my life.” Jeff reached out to John Palmer, Director of Professional Development at Turnbridge, who he knew from being around the recovery community in Stratford, CT to inquire about a position at Turnbridge.
“Just being able to connect with these guys and give them a little bit of hope, I have never felt a reward like that in my life, “said Jeff. “Especially when I see them start to flourish and connect with their families and become productive members of society.”
“I believe I bring something unique to Turnbridge,” said Jeff. “The clients and I have a very good rapport. I enjoy a challenge. I enjoy trying to bridge the gap with the clients that are struggling. I enjoy it because I know there is a purpose to what I am doing. I am helping to build a better world. I’m on the front lines.”
“I am a big music guy and I get to take the guys to the music studio,” said Jeff. “There is so much talent there. I love reminding them of that; that being in recovery is not a punishment, it’s a gift. I love helping them harness their talents and strong points.”
Alex Cruz is also a support staff member in the Turnbridge Men’s Program. Alex has an enthusiastic and contagious energy that is truly uplifting. “I am honored to work in an environment that's helping the still sick and suffering,” said Alex. “From day one at Turnbridge, I was super excited. Seeing these young men come in broken and confused and not thinking they have anything to offer, and being able to share my experience strength and hope with them to bond with them... I can’t even explain it, it’s so satisfying.”
Alex works two jobs and is frequently asked how he does it. “You can’t be tired when you do something you truly love and have a passion for,” said Alex. “I see the guys change their lives. It feels good to see them make changes and move on. I take the guys to meetings on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and we go out for coffee, and joke, and laugh. It's such a small thing but I can see how much it does for them. We are all out joking around and no one has any substances in them.”
Marjorie S. is the mother of Ben S., a current client in Phase III of the Turnbridge Men’s Program.
Marjorie raised her son in Long Island, New York, where she’s lived for the last 20 years. After completing high school, Ben went off to Queens College, but she and her husband remained concerned that he wasn’t thriving the way they knew he was capable of. “Ben had been unhappy for a very long time,” said Marjorie. “We had always suspected that he had been dependent on things to get him through certain experiences. We were very, very concerned. We couldn’t talk to him. He never admitted that he thought the alcohol might have a problem until things got really bad.”
Ben’s family were not the only ones to notice that he wasn’t himself. “His friends had a mini intervention on him, where they confronted him,” recalled Marjorie. “They called us to tell us he would get help. He started seeing a psychologist, and we called the psychologist to see if he had any recommendations and he mentioned Turnbridge.”
“The reason that my husband was attracted to Turnbridge, apart from other places, was the fact that it was a longer program, which we felt would be better for him,” said Marjorie. “Gordon was the one we talked to on the phone. He was incredible. He was direct and sympathetic to what we were going through. He knew the urgency in what was happening and got Ben into Turnbridge right away.”
“My husband and I are extremely supportive of Turnbridge,” said Marjorie. “We have never met people who are so caring and so involved in their work, and their recoveries, and their stories. We were impressed from the moment we spoke to Gordon on the phone, to Chris Nagle, who was Ben’s Phase I Case Manager. Gordon sent me a text the day Ben got to Turnbridge from detox saying ‘the eagle has landed’ and I just started crying because he said Chris had dinner with him the first night.”
“We're a very loving family, but we were never actually able to communicate with each other because Ben didn’t want to hear anything we had to say at the time, and we couldn’t get through to him,” said Marjorie. “We were always angry and upset. We have been going to Family Therapy at Turnbridge with Josh. He’s wonderful. We have come to this place where we can all respect each other.”
“For Ben I think a lot of his problem was that we were trying to be overprotective, so he never really had much self-esteem because we never really let him do anything,” said Marjorie. “We always loved each other. Now he’s become a person, a mature person. He's so much happier. As a parent that's all you really want, for your child to be happy. So you know we’re happy.”
“He learned so much in a year about himself, about life,” said Marjorie. “He made friends. After a while I don’t think he wanted to leave. Doug, Ben’s Phase III Case Manager, has been so good to us and has been an amazing life coach for Ben. Matt Leahy was so supportive and instrumental. All of the staff has been unbelievable. Ben is getting so much out of the program. Who knows what the future will hold. We feel like he has a future now.”
“Ben has always been a wonderful person,” said Marjorie. “But, I think the difference is that he actually thinks so now as well.”
Zach G. graduated from the Turnbridge Men’s Program in June of this year.
Zach grew up in Virginia, but moved out of his home right before finishing high school. “My drug of choice was opiates,” said Zach. “When I moved away from home, my opiate use got worse and I couldn’t support myself anymore, so I eventually moved back home. I thought I was hiding my opiate use well from my Mom, but I honestly think she knew.”
After a few months back home, Zach’s mom knew she had to do something so she garnered up the courage to confront Zach. “She ended up giving me an ultimatum,” said Zach. “I had to go to treatment or move out.” Thus began a series of treatment episodes that unfortunately seemed to have little effect on Zach’s substance use. “At one point, I did have about nine months of sobriety,” said Zach. “But I came back to Virginia and about a month later I was back to doing what I had been doing. I had jumping around treatment centers for three years.”
By happenstance, Cam Bakthiar, a former Turnbridge client and current Asst. Director of Operations at Turnbridge, was in town and they had grown up together. “When I moved back home Cam just happened to be in town and we got lunch,” said Zach. “He asked me what I was doing with my life and I pretty much told him ‘nothing at the moment’, so after we had lunch I think he reached out to my mother.” Cam made arrangements to get him into Turnbridge as soon as possible.
“I really wanted to come to Turnbridge, but I didn’t know how to say it,” said Zach. “Cam said it all for me.”
“My experience throughout Turnbridge has been phenomenal,” said Zach. “I don’t think there is a single staff member I don’t like. I have built a lot of strong relationships that I still have now a year later. They showed me the better side of AA. It was not like what I had seen elsewhere. I have a very large sober network and a sponsor that will support me.
“There are always people within Turnbridge that I can call if I ever need to,” said Zach. “The Case Managers were unbelievable people. They really knew what they were talking about.”
“I currently live in the Thrive program, Turnbridge’s sober living for gradutes, and it’s been a really amazing opportunity,” said Zach. “I am happy now. I haven’t been happy in a really long time.”
16 MONTHS Jake E.
15 MONTHS Madeline S.
14 MONTHS Jake S.
9 MONTHS Joseph S.
5 MONTHS Brielyn H.