“We feel obliged to give you some feedback regarding the guidance and support that our son has received during his first 6 weeks or so at Turnbridge. Specifically this pertains to the incredible support his Case Manager, Matt Barba, provided during what was a difficult and challenging time for both James and ourselves. Without the selfless dedication and caring professionalism that Matt displayed we fear that our son may have been lost to us. I realize that the Turnbridge approach is a team effort and others have surely helped a lot but we feel it important that we ensure that you all know what a magnificent ambassador for your program Matt is. The integrity and compassion he exhibits in his work with both client and family are remarkable and richly deserve this recognition. We have renewed hope that James’ recovery will continue in Phase II thru to successful program completion
Thank you for all you do!”
Rec & Lifestyle
The Turnbridge Men’s Program’s indoor soccer team competes in a local New Haven-based league, and in the last couple of months our current roster has really come together and is competing at a high level. Though they are playing in a difficult league, and are very competitive, at the end of the day it’s about having fun sober.
Phase I Case Manager, Chris Nagle, takes the lead on and off the field in organizing the indoor soccer team for clients in all three Phases of the Men’s Program. As a staff member, Chris gets to see clients enjoy recovery through participation in team sports. “It is an added level of camaraderie, accountability, and discipline for the guys in a healthy and proactive way,” said Chris. “The stuff they learn in the program translates on to the soccer field. And likewise, what they learn on the field translates over to their recovery program and life overall.”
“It feels amazing to be back doing something I love and the feeling of being healthy and ready for the games,” said Phase III resident, Ricky D. “It is an amazing experience to be a part of a team with people who are going through the same thing as me.”
“I look forward to every game with the guys. We all have a great time, win or lose, it is all about having fun,” Chris said.
Larissa, a vital part of the Finance Department at Turnbridge, was awarded the Unsung Hero of the Month Award for December 2016.
While not in recovery herself, Larissa is actively involved in the local recovery community. “I became involved in the recovery community a few years ago through friends and family - volunteering for 12-Step Club events and participating in the sober softball league,” said Larissa. “After watching Turnbridge change so many lives, it is an honor to be a part of it”
“My co-workers here are the best I have ever had. Everyone is genuinely willing to help each other out in any way they can,” said Larissa. “There is always a positive vibe in the building which is refreshing especially when the workload gets heavy.”
“One of my favorite parts of this job is receiving e-mails announcing that a client has successfully completed the program,” she said. “I am so honored to receive the Unsung Hero Award. My goal is to continue to be an asset to this company and help it continue to thrive in assisting as many people as possible reach their goals in recovery.”
Growing up in Connecticut, Andrew had a great childhood.
According to his mother, Kim, Andrew began to struggle a little bit in middle school and was diagnosed with ADHD. He was prescribed stimulant medications to help him manage his symptoms. An athlete and a good student, Andrew went on to attend a private boarding high school, where Kim states she “lost a lot of hands-on parenting at that point.”
Andrew initially struggled at his new school, but would work through those struggles, gaining recognition as an honor student. He became a rower and played a big part in his school’s Crew team’s success. “It was also at Kent where Andrew started to heavily experiment with drugs,” said Kim.
Andrew spent a lot of time at school, away from home and with friends that lived closer to the school. “He met a lot of people that were into drugs and alcohol,” said Kim.
As he neared the end of high school, Andrew was offered a scholarship to a prestigious university for his rowing, which he quickly accepted. He almost lost this scholarship due to his grades in the last semester of high school, but managed to salvage it. “I noticed he was very depressed that summer going into college and could not put my finger on what exactly it was,” Kim said. “It was not until he went off to school that things completely derailed.”
At the university, Andrew struggled very much and was placed on academic probation. Despite this consequence, his struggles continued and he was soon thereafter placed on academic suspension. “All the while I did not know there was a drug problem and things just got progressively worse,” said Kim.
Andrew came back home, and things began to really spiral downward. “I really started to notice the isolation, the erratic behavior, while he was home,” said Kim. While at home, Andrew lost his job due to failure to show up for a shift. The day following his termination, Andrew went to New York to meet a friend and did not come home or answer phone calls for a day. “I found him walking the street near the train station and he was an absolute wreck,” Kim said. “He was throwing up, in and out of consciousness, and looked beaten up.”
After bringing Andrew to the hospital, it was determined that he had several substances in his system and had suffered a traumatic injury. “To this day nobody knows what happened, if he was hit by a car or in a fight,” Kim said. “It was at that point when the doctors let me know that he needed help and what had happened was not normal. Andrew broke down crying and said he was sorry,” Kim said. “I had no clue that this had been going on. I was so oblivious to him using. He was hiding it so well and I had no idea.”
A few days later Andrew enrolled at an inpatient treatment center. “While he was there, I went to Turnbridge for a tour and I never looked back,” said Kim. “The people and the guys that worked there, I was blown away and could tell it would be great for Andrew.”
Andrew came to New Haven and joined the Turnbridge program. Andrew struggled initially, but Kim stated she had to “step back and let Turnbridge take control and do what they know best and to help Andrew.” Andrew slowly began to take suggestions and see the results of recovery, building relationships and eventually getting back into school. “I think Turnbridge did a great job in recognizing Andrew’s button and what would challenge Andrew to grow and face those obstacles in the program with the support of staff,” said Kim.
One of his biggest challenges at Turnbridge was finding a job. It took a lot of support from the staff to push him, but he eventually succeeded in obtaining this goal. “He loves his job now and he does so well at it,” she said. Andrew is now back enrolled in school, works a full schedule, and continues to focus on his recovery.
“One of the biggest things I did was let Turnbridge do the job and step back,” said Kim. “I have to work on myself as well in attending the family workshops that his siblings attend too. The workshops were so important and crucial in helping me get through this.”
Andrew recently completed the Turnbridge Men’s Program and is on his way to an apartment with some of the friends he met in Turnbridge. “The place is great and the three of them together are amazing,” Kim said. “He is doing so well and I am so proud of him.”
“I am so grateful for all of the Turnbridge staff,” said Kim. “They are amazing and Andrew would not have been so successful without them. We have our Andrew back. I have my son back. His siblings have their brother back. His grandparents have their grandson back. He is back.”
Born in Kenya, Shruti came to the United States at a young age.
Upon arrival to the U.S., Shruti moved in with family members, until her family located their own place to live.
Shruti, an intelligent young women, described how “school came very easy to her.” Shruti cruised through high school and went on to attend college, where she was, on all counts, successful. It was not until after college that Shruti began to experiment with drugs and alcohol.
When Shruti was 21, she told her father about the trauma that she experienced when she was younger. “It was difficult and it initially spiraled me out of control,” Shruti said. Shruti had not spoken about this to anyone since it had happened and was difficult for her to speak up.
“Everything was fine until I was 22 and was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and things started to spiral out of control,” said Shruti. “I was drinking at work, using cocaine to wake up in the morning, and was really out of control.”
Following a back injury, which required bed rest, “things got worse.” During this time of bed rest, Shruti stated she had a “moment of clarity” and wanted to go to substance abuse treatment. Shruti’s father, who has a background as an Addiction Specialist, quickly got on board.
Following completion of a 28-day program, Shruti was referred to the Turnbridge Women’s Program. She came to Turnbridge with an open mind and ready to make change. At the beginning of her stay, Shruti explains how she “didn’t know how to talk to people or who [her] audience was and how much the group therapy helped [her] through that.”
She excelled in the program, progressing through Phases 1 and 2, and is now a Phase 3 resident beginning to live a more independent lifestyle with more responsibility. “I love my case manager,” said Shruti. “She keeps me balanced and isn’t afraid to tell me I need to pull my socks up when I need to hear it.”
Shruti continues to make positive progress in the program, and has faced the usual bumps in the road in early recovery, but continues to move forward and work on herself. “I don’t go to extremes anymore,” said Shruti. “I am taking it easier and focusing on getting better.”
“I’ve made some very solid friends here who I feel comfortable around and be open about what I feel and don’t have to hide what I am feeling,” said Shruti. “Finding people that I don’t mind talking about myself with is one of the biggest improvements I have made in my life.”
Let’s Do Our Part
Over the years I’ve engaged in more and more relationships with people struggling to cope. Some identify as addicts; others recognize they have low self-worth; and many have mental health challenges. During that same period, I’ve come to own that they are not solely responsible for their future.
I have a part.
In the past several weeks, I’ve shifted to do more family therapy here at Turnbridge, and I really enjoy it. More than half of my week is now in session with people struggling to respond to the identified challenge, their kid. My work is not so much psychoanalytical as it is helping loved ones to recognize thoughts and behaviors that promote connection and also assisting to reduce actions that foster deterioration.
Let’s not kid ourselves: we loved ones play a very meaningful role in every person’s journey. We either help someone get well or we do not. And while none of us can cause, control, or cure symptoms, we can contribute to wellness. We can be encouragers, listeners, leaders, and models.
I want readers to believe in yourselves more. You all matter.
We often wonder how to be a solid support. One of the primary ways you can affirm your impact is by taking healthy risks. Tell your kid you love her or him. Engage with someone who will help you find your voice. Join a squad that’s bigger than you - let others love you. Determine where and how you learn best, and use those spaces to gain and practice skills.
By doing so, you will find that no matter how your child is doing, your ability to cope will improve. Serenity will therefore not be the absence of chaos but the state of fostering peace regardless of circumstances.
I am elated that Turnbridge is offering families at least monthly sessions to support them in their change. If you’re local or visiting New Haven, let’s meet in person. If your schedule or distance is an issue, we’re happy to see you via video.
Engage with us. I beg you to attend workshops, visit support groups, utilize family therapists, and take chances. We’ll help you to celebrate the positive and to constructively respond to the difficult.
Family engagement improves prognosis. It breaks down shame. It demonstrates hope.
Let’s do our part.
This month Jack remembers his friend who passed on December 2, 2006. "We don't have to call it a disease if the reader doesn't want to," says Jack, "But Jake had a condition that told him he didn't have a condition. Today I honor his memory by assisting families however I can."
Growing up, Scott’s mother frequently told him he had an “addictive personality” with just about everything he did.
“It started with over-eating, then video games, then cardio and running and so on,” recalls Scott. It was not until Scott was 15 years old that he experienced alcohol for the first time. “By the time I was 16, I drank at an alcoholic level. I was with my friends and we got drunk, but I needed to keep drinking and blackout.”
Scott’s performed well academically in his first two years of high school, maintaining a 4.0 GPA, but crashed in his final two years as a result of his alcohol abuse. Even after a rough junior and senior year, Scott still went on to attend a top university in Pennsylvania. His tenure was short-lived. “I couldn’t handle it,” said Scott. “It was too much.”
Scott began experimenting with other substances. He remembers smoking pot for the first time and thinking “it was exactly what I was searching for.”
“From weed, to psychedelics, to pain killers, to research chemicals, I would do anything and everything,” he said. “I was oblivious to the fact that I wasn’t normal.” Scott’s use lead to plenty of trouble. “Trouble with the cops, losing friends, being homeless, leaving school, everything was falling apart,” he said. “All of these things had one common denominator. Me being drunk.”
Scott’s family decided to come together to stage an intervention for him. During this intervention, members of his family broke down and begged him to get help. “Something pushed me over to say yes and go get help,” said Scott.
Scott enrolled in an inpatient program, followed up a transition to Turnbridge for continuing care. “When I got to Turnbridge, it just felt right,” said Scott. “Everyone was so friendly and welcoming, and the place was just beautiful and comfortable. I could be myself and be surrounded by others who were trying to get better.”
“Turnbridge gave me an opportunity to build real relationships,” said Scott. “It was something I was missing my entire life. Nobody was trying to manipulate me and I wasn’t trying to use someone for something they had.”
Scott’s journey through Turnbridge, and as a recovering alcoholic, took tremendous amounts of work. “From the case managers and clinicians, to the sober network, to my peers, everything played a huge part in me succeeding,” he said. Turnbridge gave Scott plenty of time and structure to be able to make mistakes but bounce back in a healthy way, and start to see the results of being sober.
“Today I am able to do what I want to do; it’s because I am doing those things for the right reason. I am able to help others and not worry about receiving anything in return. I am doing it because it is the right thing.”
Upon Scott’s discharge from Turnbridge, he was offered a job as a Support Staff member. “It is the best job I have ever had, hands down,” said Scott. “I have never had a bad day working with the guys.” Scott has been promoted multiple times since his hire due to his hard work, dedication, and passion for helping others get better. “Everyone works as a team to help the clients because we have all been where they are, and we know it can be extremely difficult, but we offer a sense of hope and comfortability. The clients brighten my day. There is never a dull moment. They are all so creative and unique. They are what makes this place so amazing. I am extremely grateful for Turnbridge. They saved my life and gave me the opportunity to assist in saving others’ lives.”
“I went home for Thanksgiving this month and got to see everyone that pushed me into rehab and they were so happy to see me and grateful that I could participate and be a part of the family and actually be there,” said Scott.
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