Turning Point Connections
facebook linkedin twitter November 2018
New Year’s Day Polar Plunge


My son 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 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, and 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!

- A grateful mother

This Issue

Family Mailbag

Rec & Lifestyle


From the Family

Unsung Hero

Resident Profile

Alumni Life

Recent Anniversaries

Recreation and Lifestyle

New Year’s Day Polar Plunge

On New Year’s Day, a group of women in Phase I and II of the Turnbridge Women’s Program took a trip out to the shoreline at Lighthouse Point to participate in the annual Polar Plunge. The Polar Plunge is a philanthropic event where participants jump into the icy Long Island Sound. The tradition is symbolic of being cleansed and renewed from the past year and diving head first into the new year.

“Running into the freezing cold water with these fearless women was an absolutely unforgettable experience,” said Aine D., a Phase I client.

“Pretty decent way to ‘plunge’ into the new year,” quipped Rachel I., who is also in Phase I. “I liked participating with people that understand me, as a team for a good cause.”

The event was outfitted with warming stations, hot tubs, and served a delicious brunch. “It was an awesome and daring way to ring in the New Year with our clients,” said Erin Royer, Phase I and II Women’s Program Director. “Cold and cleansed, ready to take on 2019! I love opportunities for our staff to humanize ourselves to our clients. We were terrified and freezing alongside them. It made it extra special that it was for a good cause.”

Unsung Hero
Unsung Hero Headshot

Jonathan Murray

Jonathan Murray is Turnbridge’s 2018 Unsung Hero of the Year.

Jonathan serves as Assistant to the Executive Director. “I have 8 years clean and have had quite the recovery journey myself,” Jon reflected. “I got connected to Turnbridge after finishing graduate school and looking for jobs. I knew a bunch of people who worked at Turnbridge. I originally worked here in 2012 as an overnight staff. I came back to Turnbridge in 2015, having realized that my passion lied in the recovery field. I had some profound experiences in recovery and I was really good at helping people.”

Jon is always available and always willing to help his co-workers and clients, even on weekends. “It’s incredible to watch young men and women strive to become who they are and to live their truth,” said Jon. “I learn a lot working here, about addiction, the sickness, and also about the beautiful part of recovery. I’ve also learned a lot about myself and my personal recovery. I am so grateful to work at Turnbridge.”

Events Calendar
From the Famliy

Janet S. is the mother of Billy S., a current client in Phase III of the Turnbridge Men’s Program.

Janet recalled that, after being in and out of treatment for nearly all of his young adulthood, Billy finally became willing to go to long-term treatment. “Billy is 25 and had been in 18 or 19 rehab trips before Turnbridge,” said Janet. “He finally asked if we could possibly send him to long term treatment at Turnbridge. It was a suggestion from his best friend from High School who had completed Turnbridge and is three years clean. So we talked about it, and we talked to the people down at admissions, and decided that we would go ahead with it.”

As mentioned earlier this was not Janet’s first time sending her son to treatment but this, she had decided, would be her final try. “I have been very pleased,” said Janet. “We were extremely lucky he was placed with Steve Tobey as his first case manager, who was just phenomenal. He was willing to listen and to improvise when needed. There was a time when Billy was feeling a little bit frustrated like, ‘I have been there done that’, and Steve shook things up by taking Billy and another guy out for the day. It was just fabulous and it showed him he can have fun without getting high.”

Family photo

Janet took full advantage of all the family support at Turnbridge. “I went down for the Family Healing Workshop with Diana Clark and Lauren Springer,” recalled Janet. “It was great. I met a group of parents. They ranged from a grandmother who had just checked her grandson in, to people whose kids had already graduated or were in Phase three and had a year clean, so it was all very reassuring. I then brought my husband down and my middle son down and we went to the Parent Support Group and the Sibling Support Group, and that was great. I went to the Family Education Weekend. It was great, exhausting, but great. I met some nice couples. I already go to Al-anon, but it was important for Billy to see that I was engaged with this process too.”

“Billy is now in Phase III and he is doing great,” said Janet. “As he’s gotten more clean time, my wonderful son has returned. He is working part-time and going to school part-time. His Phase III Case Manager, Sean Howard, puts different spins on things and has come up with some very fine ideas about how to keep Billy engaged.”

“Billy seems very happy,” said Janet. “Anytime there has been a period of restlessness he quickly addressed it with his therapist, and his team has been quick to act on it. I have been thrilled with the care he has received.”

“For me, education about addiction was important,” said Janet. “As a consumer, you need to be as vigilant as possible and understand what is an appropriate place.”

“Billy recently asked me to come down for a recovery conference they are having in February that he is speaking at,” said Janet. “I don’t know, is there anything finer in the world than to have your son ask you to come to a recovery conference for a weekend?”

Resident Profile

Shane S. is a current client in Phase III of the Turnbridge Men’s Program.

Shane grew up in Annapolis, Maryland and came to Turnbridge at the age of 22 having struggled with anxiety and depression since he was young. Over the course of his youth and young adulthood Shane coped with his difficulties in a variety of maladaptive ways, including refusing to participate at school. “I eventually dropped out of school because I was leaving every day,” said Shane. “I was hanging out with the wrong people.”

Despite Shane’s struggles, he was able to obtain gainful employment, though this eventually became just another major source of stress in his life. “I was an assistant to an electrician so I never knew when I was going to go into work, which gave me a lot of anxiety,” recalled Shane.

Shane recalled that his issues with substance use began to develop around the time his parents separated. “My parents had recently gotten separated, so my house became the party house,” said Shane. “I was spending all my money on weed and liquor. My friends started doing coke so I got into that. I was hanging around in known-to-be rough areas.”

From casual use and partying, Shane graduated to more risky behaviors and that escalation was inevitably what landed him at Turnbridge. “I started selling weed,” said Shane. “I didn’t realize at the time how much anxiety it really caused for me. I'd be getting off work and there would just be people at my house, whether it was my brother’s friends or my friends constantly hitting me up. It got to the point where I was just never leaving my house.” Shane started to notice that his friends weren’t really his friends. “The only friends I had just wanted to do drugs and nothing else. Eventually I realized my friends were really just using me for a place to hang out and a drug connection. I had an idea that my friends weren’t the best for me, but I had been hanging out with them for so long that I didn’t really know how to get away from them.”

One day this hazardous lifestyle took a turn for the worst, and Shane was put in a very dangerous situation. He recounts the story, “Then one day I had a house party. All my friends were in another room, and I was robbed at gunpoint. That shook me up.” Having had a traumatic event happen he left his father's house and went to stay with his mother. “When I told my friends not one of them were the least bit concerned. At this point I realized these people just didn’t care about me.” This confluence of circumstances is what led Shane to ask for help.

“When I got to Turnbridge, I tried to do what was asked. I went to meetings. I tried to get out of my comfort zone and get a sponsor. I still have the same sponsor today,” said Shane. “In Phase II I started volunteering, and really started to make some good friends. People really wanted to be around me. It wasn’t just, ‘do you have this’ or ‘can we go get that.’”

“I also started going to the gym,” said Shane. “It really helped me mentally and I made a friend who was my gym buddy.” One of the things that really helped Shane was the ability to go out and do fun things in sobriety. He felt like he had missed out on so much. Recreation became a big part of his journey to wellness. “I did enjoy some cool recreation activities,” said Shane. “The Escape Room was a cool concept, paintballing was great, we saw some stand-up, saw Lil Baby (rapper) and Nas. I really liked the fishing trips too. I just haven’t been doing anything like that in a long time. I didn’t have the means and I didn’t have anyone who wanted to do that kind of stuff with me.”

“I learned how to manage my time better,” said Shane. “I got a job. In Phase III, I’m starting trade school to become an electrician. I have so many coping mechanisms today for my anxiety, like the gym, meditation, music, walks, even just minor distractions like playing Xbox and watching TV.” Shane reflected that he is still growing and working on his recovery, and cites the support he received from several Turnbridge staff members as key to getting him to where he is today, including that of Chris Nagle, Thayer Gregg, Mac Burns, Will Sisbarro, and Drew Kramer. It’s always a team effort at Turnbridge to help young men build a better life, and now Shane, at 10 months clean and sober, is well on his way.

Alumni Life Alumni picture

Alec P. is an alumni of the Turnbridge Men’s Program.

“I grew up in New York City on the lower East Side of Manhattan,” reflected Alec. “I lived with my mom. My dad died when I was 7. I struggled with a lot of depression and anxiety growing up. I started smoking weed when I was 16. I was kind of a late bloomer, all things considered.”

“When I went to college, Edinburgh College out in Pennsylvania, my roommate was doing pills and eventually I tried them,” said Alec. “I don’t know, they made me comfortable with myself. They took away all the anxiety and depression. It was something we did every once in a while at first.”

“I really hated the school and I didn’t end up going back after that first year,” said Alec. “My roommate ended up moving to New York with me and while we were there I found a pill dealer. I started off doing them once a week and quickly it went to everyday. It got worse and worse. When the pills got too expensive we started doing heroin and things started to fall apart.” In the spring of 2017 Alec went to his first treatment center, but came home after only 28 days and relapsed shortly after. After using for several more months, he went back to treatment. “That September I ended up going to Silver Hill in New Canaan, who then referred me to Turnbridge. When I got to Turnbridge something inside me was telling me, ‘Just listen to whatever they tell you. do what they tell you to do.’ I tried to be as compliant as possible.”

Alumni quote

“Phase one was fine. It was nice to have a break from everything. Just a place where I could chill out and give myself a moment to get my head straight. It gave me time to just catch my breath, which was really refreshing. It was great because I was making friends and forming real relationships. I had been so alone for so long that having people that understood what I was going through was just really cool. The most important part of Phase one for me was definitely all the friends I made and the connections I made.”

“By the time I got to Phase II, I had really settled in,” said Alec. “I really enjoyed it because I had a little more freedom. Of course it was tough at times but I felt like I had a solid foundation for my recovery. I got to Phase III and I started working. It had been a long time since I had an honest job. I felt like I was finally building something. It was really important to me.”

After completing the Turnbridge program, Alec made the decision to remain in the area. “Now, I live in a sober house in the New Haven area,” said Alec. “It’s cool, because I am finally not miserable. Even before I started using, I was miserable. I put myself through it. I was really bad at connecting to people. I am not anymore. I really like the people I live with and work with. I have a girlfriend now. My recovery is not perfect, but I am trying to implement what I have learned in Turnbridge and through the twelve steps. Sometimes I make mistakes. I get squirrely. But, I have a strong enough network now to deal with it and to cope with it.”

“It’s been an adventure,” said Alec. “I am 15 months sober. My family tells me all the time, ‘You’re just a different person, you act different, you carry yourself in a more confident manner.’ Turnbridge and the people that have helped me - especially Steve Tobey, Will Testani, and Chas Lankford - showed me everything that I value today in my life. Turnbridge has done a lot for me and I can never repay anyone for what I have been given: A second chance, and hope, and just a better life. It’s just a better life.”

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