“Happy New Year! We are writing to thank you and the Turnbridge community for giving us a very special Christmas gift...a wonderful “home pass” visit with our son. When he arrived home he brought with him a positive attitude, a grateful heart, a solid commitment to his treatment and recovery work at Turnbridge.
On December 26th, he celebrated his 11th month anniversary of sobriety - we are full of gratitude for the support and guidance he has received at Turnbridge in order to achieve this milestone. Those first few days in Phase 1 were terrifying as we wondered if our son would take to the streets of New Haven or “show up” and settle in. We are forever grateful to Zach Palmer, John Stewart, John Palmer, Tom Marzilli and all the others who were there for him in those initial days and weeks and have continued to be there for him throughout this journey.
Furthermore, the communication and outreach to both of us during that time was invaluable because we were as scared and frustrated as our son was! No matter what time of the day we needed support, Lauren Springer was there for us. Although our calls, emails and texts to Lauren have decreased as the months have passed, we know she continues to be a support and sounding board for us as we negotiate this journey of parenting an addict and taking care of ourselves.”
Rec & Lifestyle
This month, client’s from the Turnbridge Women’s Program loaded up in the suburbans and headed off to Webster Bank Arena to see Twenty One Pilots in concert. As one of the most popular new artists to emerge in 2016, Twenty-One Pilots brought a huge audience out to the arena and our clients got to enjoy it from a luxury box suite.
“I have been to hundreds of concerts, and I have not seen anyone put on a show like that,” Case Manager, Sam C. said. “It was an overall amazing time and I was blown away by the performance.”
“I loved the music and was so happy to be surrounded by so much positivity,” said Turnbridge client, Becca S. “It was the most fun I’ve ever had sober.” “I had a great time and it was mainly because I was completely present during the concert, and I’m grateful for that because I can remember how great it was,” resident Erin C. said.
At Turnbridge, we believe in the importance of showing young adults in recovery that they can have fun and do the things they love without the use of drugs and alcohol. “It was the best time I’ve had here at Turnbridge and I am grateful to experience a concert sober,” client, Sam R. said.
Spencer’s exuberant personality combined with his commanding work ethic have netted him the recognition of Turnbridge Unsung Hero of the Month for February 2017.
Spencer has been working at Turnbridge for about 2 years now, and has quickly grown in the organization. He has a strong rapport with clients and staff alike, bringing a smile to anyone he comes into contact with. “Working for Turnbridge has been a blessing in disguise,” Spencer said. With his father and brother also working in the addiction recovery field, Spencer states “I have them to thank for getting me involved. I was accepted with open arms by the Turnbridge community and feel grateful I was given the opportunity to grow in this atmosphere.”
Spencer also lives a life of recovery. “It has allowed me to have a relationship with my friends and family; two things I cherish,” said Spencer. “When I was drinking, I wasn’t able to maintain a healthy relationship. Now I am, and I owe that to my recovery.”
As a member of the Turnbridge family, Spencer is responsible for maintaining a positive atmosphere for our clients, an area in which he excels greatly. “I consider working with the clients to be a privilege,” said Spencer. “It allows me to potentially lend some experience, strength, hope to guys that may be lacking in those categories.”
When asked about his recognition, Spencer said, “It definitely is an honor to be recognized by my peers. I don’t necessarily see myself as deserving an award for doing what’s asked of me, but it certainly is humbling to be recognized. Considering some of the other people who have been given this award, it’s some good company to be in.”
Growing up, Connor was an avid athlete and, in particular, he loved baseball.
Connor was an intelligent kid as well and, despite his difficulties with attention and focus, he performed well academically. Despite these innate gifts, Connor’s parents noticed that he had an addictive personality from a young age. He was obsessive about video games and certain hobbies.
“It was not until high school when he started struggling with grades and becoming more self-conscious,” said Loreen, Connor’s mother. “He became more introverted. He was trying to fit in more and there was a noticeable shift in his personality. He felt more accepted by those who weren’t great role models.”
“He was so good at baseball and he was obsessed with it, but then he just wanted to stop playing all of a sudden,” said Allen, Connor’s father.
After Connor’s freshman year of high school, his parents enrolled him at a military school, feeling that what he needed was a more organized and balanced schedule. “He was previously at a larger school that had 7-8 classes a day and he struggled,” said Loreen. Connor participated in the wrestling team there, where he excelled and would gain recognition as one of the best wrestlers in the state in his age group. His high school had a policy of randomly drug testing it’s students, but Connor was never tested. “Nobody would test him because he seemed so innocent and was such a nice kid,” said Allen.
Around this time, Connor was tested for ADD and was prescribed a stimulant medication to help him with his symptoms. Connor started his ADD medication, and began suddenly performing well in school. “He was so happy at first and felt much more outgoing and accepted in school,” said Loreen. However, Connor began craving more and more of his medication.
The ADD medication had begun to noticeably affect his mood and behaviors. Following the passing of his psychiatrist, Connor’s was forced to search for a new prescribor and Connor was becoming agitated. “It was a cop who helped us find a doctor. We had cops at our house multiple times over the course of a year due to Connor’s behavior,” Loreen stated. “Every time he would stop taking the meds, he wouldn’t go to school for days or do anything at all.”
Connor’s began partying more, and he would stay out past curfew. “We knew things were starting to get bad and he was addicted to his ADD medication,” Loreen said. They found a new psychiatrist for Connor to see, so that he could slowly taper off of his medication. Connor did not react well, and he became very emotional and making suicidal statements that led his parents to call the police.
Connor was admitted to a behavioral health center, during which time he was taken off of his medication. After a brief stay, Connor came back home, but immediately began searching for relief through other means. “He began buying Vyvanse and Xanax from friends and anyone who had it,” Loreen said. Connor’s lack of motivation culminated in his quitting the wrestling team. “It was a huge shock to everyone when he quit because he was one of the best in the state,” Allen said.
“I went to all of his friends and asked them to stop giving him drugs and alcohol,” Allen said. After months of continuous abuse, Connor’s parents enrolled him at a treatment program in Florida. This was the first of many treatment episodes in which Connor would do well while still in a structured environment, but would begin struggling as soon as he was given independence.
Connor was eventually given the opportunity to come to Turnbridge. Though his first few months were not altogether without struggle, Connor steadily progressed through Phases I and II. Upon entering Phase 3, Connor got a job and started taking college courses. “He successfully finished his class at school and did it without his medication,” Loreen said. Connor excelled in the recovery aspect, and continues to assist others as much as he can. “He still struggles with life skills but has come so far and is doing so well,” Allen said. “One of the greatest things Connor loves to do now is to share his story at high schools and help kids understand addiction.”
“We let Turnbridge do their job and we did our best to stay out of it,” Allen said. “We can actually help other parents now.”
“All of the case managers were so great and answered all of our questions,” said Loreen. “They helped us so much. Everyone was so easy to talk to and help us understand what our best choices were.”
Connor will soon be successfully graduating from the Turnbridge program and has expressed interest in remaining in the New Haven area. “He feels like he has built himself a new and better life now,” Allen said. “He even has an interest in becoming a psychologist.”
“We are so proud and grateful for everyone and all of the work Connor has done. It is truly amazing.”
Lane’s first exposure to drug and alcohol came at a very young age.
“My first use was at 14 and I didn’t look back,” recalled Lane. He found himself in a treatment center shortly thereafter, at which time the Department of Children and Families got involved. After this incident, Lane states that he “decided to just go cold and for the next 15 years, using anything and everything.”
“I ended up shooting cocaine and heroin; this pattern continued until I was 30,” Lane said. Lane has attended numerous treatment facilities and sober living homes in Connecticut over the course of his active addiction. “I was all over the place,” Lane said.
“I actually made it to college using suboxone maintenance, while still using cocaine and heroin,” Lane stated. Lane made it through college, and graduated with honors, where he stated “I somehow made it.” Following college, Lane got a job as a truck driver and was employed for a period of time before being arrested for DUI and possession of a controlled substance.
Lane eventually found himself attending Twelve Step meetings, but was not genuinely invested in the process. “I really tried to get sober my way and was determined that AA wouldn’t work for me,” said Lane. With that, Lane decided a change of scenery might be the solution to his problems, and ended up moving to Portland, Oregon. “I tried to get as far as possible away from Connecticut.”
After a new employer found out about Lane’s substance abuse problems, he was going to fire Lane, but before he could do so Lane packed up and moved to Louisiana. Along the way, Lane found himself in a relationship with someone in recovery, but they both ended up relapsing and Lane continued on the downward trajectory that he was on. “I had nothing,” Lane said.
Right around this time is when Lane reached out for help. “I called a childhood friend of mine who was willing to help me,” Lane said. Before he knew it, Lane had found himself on the doorstep at Turnbridge.
Lane’s original plan was to stay for 30 days, but that ended up changing. “I started to see the Twelve Steps work in my life and I was getting better, so I decided to stay,” said Lane. From that point forward, Lane thrived at Turnbridge. Eventually, while in Phase III of the program he was offered a position as House Manager, an opportunity that is typically given to residents who have taken on a position as positive role model within the community.
“Matt Barba, my Phase I Case Manager, helped save my life and convinced me to stay,” said Lane. “He flew down to Louisiana with me to get my truck and ensure I stay in the program. He had a huge impact on my life and where I am today.”
Lane recalls making amends to his brother and sister, which is a critical part of Twelve Step recovery. “I had to try and repair those relationships,” said Lane. “They’re family. My relationships with my brother and sister now have never been better.”
“The knowledge that helping other people could help myself really keeps me going, and that leading by example could have the effect it does, especially on my sister and my brother.”
Lane will be graduating from the Turnbridge program soon, and plans to remain in the New Haven area. “I’ve never had anything like the relationships I’ve built today,” said Lane. “I am extremely grateful for the opportunity I was given to come to Turnbridge and build the life I have today.”
Recovery as the Anecdote to Toxic Shame
Many residents early in recovery have difficulty separating guilt from shame and correlate their identity with symptoms of active addiction. Perhaps one of the most painful aspects of early recovery is sitting with the false understanding of behaviors that are incongruent with ones values, character, and morals and believing these addictive behaviors now define them. As a therapist, much of my early work is to help residents differentiate between guilt and toxic shame. One way to begin this process is to identify guilt and shame.
Guilt- “I’m sorry. I made a mistake” (focus on behavior)
Shame- “I am a mistake” (focus on self)
While shame is a human emotion, unattended and ignored, toxic shame is correlated with addiction, depression, suicide, violence, aggression, bullying and eating disordered behaviors.
Shame often results in fear, blame, and disconnection from others. As human beings, our brains are social and we are hard wired for the “we.” Our sense of belonging is the very crux of our social, emotional, and behavioral sense of health and well being. When shame threatens our social connections and acceptance, as in the case of addiction, the results can be detrimental to well being. Fitting in and being accepted is vital to all people.
Dr. Brunee Brown, a researcher on the topic of shame, describes the resilience to shame as effected by three things;
- talk to yourself as you would someone you love
- reach out and share with someone you trust
- Tell your story
Shame is a detrimental response to transgressive and maladaptive behaviors because rather than promoting positive change it illicits hiding, escape, and general avoidance of the problem. Addiction thrives under secrecy, silence and judgement.
As family members and loved ones of those in recovery, one powerful opportunity to offer hope and support would be to consider role modeling this behavior by sharing something they may be ashamed of to your loved one. Listen without attempting to fix or change. Share and relate to the emotions loved ones are expressing.
Turnbridge and the 12 step community provides a safe and supportive recovery environment to help promote residents to share, tell their story and connect incrementally in a number of clinical and recovery settings. Many residents have spoken about the power of realizing he or she is not alone and more so, understood. The healing afforded by the phrase, “me, too” is an incredibly powerful point of acceptance and change.
Growing up, Zach exhibited many natural talents, one of which was a knack for acting.
When he was very young, Zach landed a role in what would become a hit TV show. Many years later, when Zach was applying to boarding schools, he recalls, “they were calling me left and right, trying to get me in and I eventually went on to attend one of them.”
When Zach went on to attend boarding school, he began to experiment with drugs and alcohol. “I started smoking weed and drinking there,” said Zach. Zach was caught using substances by the school administration and was subsequently expelled. Zach headed home and would end up finishing his high school diploma in his home town.
Following high school, Zach was accepted into a very good school in North Carolina. “When I got to college, I was still pretty emotionally immature and didn’t really know how to live,” Zach said Zach pledged a fraternity, but was eventually denied membership due to his reckless and uncontrollable behavior.
“I would get so belligerently drunk and have no idea what I was doing.” said Zach. “Plus I was using acid every day.” As Zach’s substance use continued to escalate, so did the resulting consequences. Eventually his behavior led to an arrest. The university and Zach’s attorney were in agreement that he needed professional help for substance abuse.
“The school was helping me find treatment, but I had a few days before I had to go so I told myself I had some time to get as messed up as I could,” Zach said. After a night of drinking and using drugs, Zach woke up in the hospital with his mom standing next to him. “I had no idea what happened, how I ended up there, and how long I was out since my mom made it up to North Carolina,” said Zach. At the hospital, it was determined that Zach needed to get to treatment immediately.
Zach went to attend a wilderness-based residential treatment program. “I didn’t really like it, but I learned a lot,” said Zach. He recalls experiencing a spiritual awakening of sorts while there. “It was a moment of putting the groups needs before my own needs,” said Zach.
Following this wilderness program, Zach made the decision to attend Turnbridge for long-term transitional care. “I had some hiccups in the early stages at Turnbridge, but I battled through them,” said Zach. Like most, Zach had his ups and downs, but ultimately would begin to thrive.
“The staff helped me take a few classes, get a job, and get back into school in North Carolina,” said Zach. While at Turnbridge, Zach worked a part time job, took college classes, and actively participated in the local Twelve Step community.
“I’ve never really had close friends before Turnbridge but I met so many amazing people here and made great relationships,” said Zach. “I continued to focus on helping the group and their needs, and not focusing on my own needs. I met so many great people and grew so much in the last year.”
“I learned how to live at Turnbridge,” said Zach.
Zach successfully completed the Turnbridge program and was accepted back into college in North Carolina. “The university helped me so much getting back in after seeing my progress through this program,” said Zach.
He is currently back at school in North Carolina, and is an active member of the on-campus sober program. “I get to continue to help people, go to meetings, and still work on myself,” said Zach. “I have a lot more learning and growing to do, but I can do that today.”
15 Months James J.
12 MONTHS Cameron L.
11 MONTHS Lane B.
9 Months Ryan M.
Joshua Rv Emily G.
Tim G .
4 Months Toni G.
Elizabeth K. Davis R.
Christopher T. Samantha R.
Gabrielle F. Nicole V.