Turning Point Connections
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“Our visit with Chris this past weekend was an experience beyond words. His whole demeanor has changed and he seems more at ease than we’ve ever seen him. We can’t thank you enough for what you’ve done to help Chris get to where he is now. We know it’s still early on, but we’re cautiously optimistic. Something is clearly different this time.”
- Parents of a Turnbridge Client

This Issue

Family Mailbag

Rec & Lifestyle


Unsung Hero

Resident Profile

Clinician’s Corner

Alumni Life

Recreation and Lifestyle

Rec Event - Softball

The Turnbridge Men’s Program softball team is back in action as the 2016 season of the New Haven sober softball league has begun. Clients from all three phases of the Men’s Program suited up to join this year’s team.

At Turnbridge, we believe it is crucial for young adults in early sobriety to discover that it’s possible to have fun without the use of drugs or alcohol. “Softball satisfies my competitive nature in a healthy way and releases stress,” Phase III client Kyle W. said. “Playing builds camaraderie with my friends. We all get to work together out there.”

Given the league is specifically for individuals in recovery, Turnbridge clients are afforded an opportunity to expand their sober network. The league can be very competitive, but at the end of the day it’s about having fun.

Unsung Hero
Unsung Hero Headshot

Andrew Berk

This month, Andrew Berk is being recognized as July’s Unsung Hero of the month. Like many support staff members, Andrew’s journey at Turnbridge began as a client.

“I spent my whole life depressed,” said Andrew. “I used drugs hoping it was the solution but never worked on what was really wrong internally. I needed something structured and long term where I feel like I couldn’t fall through the cracks. [Turnbridge] gave me the best chance at not failing.”

“I wanted to work here because I know what it feels like to be hopeless and I wanted to let these guys know that there is a way out,” said Andrew. “I am so grateful for everything. Life is amazing. I am so happy today.”

Events Calendar
From the Famliy

Matt P. grew up in Massachusetts with the support of a loving family but, according to his Mother, Marie, his childhood was not without difficulty.

“He often struggled with his peers and fitting in,” said Marie. As a result of these challenges, Matt found himself gravitating toward bad crowds. “He started hanging out with others who were doing drugs,” said Marie. “Matt tried to hide who he was hanging out with and we never really knew.”

Matt’s substance abuse began in high school, and quickly escalated. “He was out all night and we had no idea what he was doing,” said Marie. During Matt’s high school years, Marie endured many sleepless nights and constantly worried about Matt. After failing a few classes, Matt was told he would not graduate on time. “Not graduating with his friends really got to him,” said Marie. Despite the delay, Matt would receive his diploma one year later.

Family photo

“Matt’s substance abuse was there, but we were in denial,” Marie said. This denial persisted until one night when Matt crashed his car into a snow bank. “He got a ride home and came running into our room in the middle of the night freaking out,” said Marie.

This accident came with multiple legal charges that Matt had to face. After meeting with an attorney, it was recommended that Matt attend substance abuse treatment. Matt made his way to a 6-week inpatient center, which he completed. However, he relapsed shortly after returning home. “He got high the day he got home,” Marie said.

After continuing to test positive on multiple drug tests while on probation, Matt was sentenced to a jail term. “He just couldn’t stop getting high to pass a drug test,” Marie said. “That was when we really knew he needed help.”

Matt would spend 3 weeks in jail before eventually transferring to Turnbridge for treatment. Arriving to New Haven in his jail clothes, Matt knew this was it for him. “It took him some time to get going but he started going through the motions and seeing progress,” Marie stated. Matt’s challenges in early recovery were no different than most, as he faced many ups and downs. “He faced a lot of obstacles but continued to work on moving forward,” said Marie.

Matt’s journey has brought him to Turnbridge where he excelled. He is an active participant in the Mentor Program, offering guidance and support to Phase I clients in the Men’s Program. Matt has found the motivation to get back to school, get a job, and continue to participate in the recovery community.

“We finally have our son back,” said Marie. “We are so grateful for Matt and the work he has done at Turnbridge.”

Resident Profile Resident picture

Will’s substance abuse history began at the young age of 11 and escalated very quickly.

The consequences of his substance abuse became undisputable when, during his junior year of high school, he was expelled for using on school grounds. After a more extensive investigation, Will was charged with distribution of drugs on school property.

Shortly after, Will was sent to an inpatient program in California for 75 days. Following the inpatient program, Will was enrolled in a boarding school in New Hampshire. Following his graduation, Will came back home. Within one week of being home, Will was using drugs and alcohol again. “I picked up right where I left off, and even worse,” said Will. “I thought I could do it on my own, but I couldn’t. My way doesn’t work.”

Resident quote

Will continued to use substances without his family’s knowledge. “I would steal from them, manipulate them, all while they believed I was sober,” said Will. Will’s parents caught on to what he was doing after he had taken a depressant medication at work and blacked out. Will tried to talk his way out of this situation, but was instead given the option to leave home or enroll at Turnbridge. “I didn’t want to go back to rehab, but I didn’t have any other options,” said Will. He agreed to come to Turnbridge.

Since arriving, Will feels he has made a huge turn-around. “I was behaving terribly and didn’t care about anyone but myself before Turnbridge,” Will said. “I have learned a ton about self-respect and self-control through this process. I’ve grown up and matured so much.”

Resident quote

Today, Will holds a job and is continuing his education. “This place and the people in it have changed my life,” Will said. An active member of the mentor program and volunteer program at Turnbridge, Will continues to share his experience, strength, and hope with newcomers.

“I am finally me again today, and I am happy. I couldn’t be more grateful.”

Clinician's Corner
Clinicians headshot

Clinician's Title

The Elephant and the Rider - The integration of the Divided Self
I believe we are comprised of the interaction of opposing forces from within. Often these forces are seemingly in juxtaposition to one another and we are left feeling like we have to choose one part over the other, or even worse, that we have no choice at all. There are many different lenses with which to look at this divided self; our emotions verses logic, our mind verses body, our controlled or learned responses verses our automatic or intuitional responses. Unfortunately, all too often, we send ourselves a message of either “having to choose between” or “I have no control over” these opposing forces. Our internal dialog then is communicating there must be something wrong with us or at least a part of us. When we feel as though we have to choose between or have lost control over these parts of ourselves we naturally then judge, shame, and fear ourselves and begin to feel fragmented as people. Our clients come to us struggling to navigate their worlds. Their minds and bodies are suffering from addiction and their personalities have become fragmented before they have even had the chance to fully develop. They are suffering from the powerlessness of the divided self.

Through the use of a Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) informed model of practice we can begin to break down this fallacy of having to choose and of having no control by teaching our clients that they can know and accept all the parts of themselves and that in so doing they can learn how to live in the “in between of things.” That nothing is all good or bad. That each part of them can be used to their betterment. These forces need not be at war with each other; that it is in the integration of these forces that they can find true soundness of mind and a more sustainable way to affect positive changes in their lives.

A familiar DBT skill that helps clients conceptualize doing this is the use of the wise mind. If we allow our emotional mind to guide our actions we end up acting impulsively and often judge our feelings as facts. On the other hand if we allow only our logical mind to guide our actions we often ignore our intuition and appear cold and detached from the human experience. The goal then, is to allow both “parts of our mind” to help inform our actions and decision making. We can hopefully teach our clients to take a non-judgmental stance with themselves. Through practicing mindfulness, we can teach them to first notice these two sides of themselves and to then learn how to integrate them into the wise mind.

As I do this work with our clients I am reminded of an analogy I learned in grad school of the elephant and rider. The elephant represents our urges, our innate drive for survival, and our emotional reactivity which at times comes with brute force. The rider represents our analytical mind, our ability to think long term and to problem solve. Changes often fail because the Rider simply can’t keep the Elephant on the road long enough to reach the destination. The Elephant’s strength of power and hunger for instant gratification is the opposite of the Rider’s strength which is the ability to think beyond the moment. To make progress toward a goal requires the strengths of both.  When Elephants and Riders move together, change can come easily. The key to effective change is found in bridging the gap between the divided parts of self. For we are all have an elephant and a rider within. If we can teach our clients to tap into this power it will help them trudge along the happy road of destiny.

Alumni Life Alumni picture

Turnbridge Alumni, Whitaker B., grew up in North Carolina surrounded by a supportive family who instilled strong values in him from a young age.

Whitaker recounts his childhood as being relatively idyllic, but when he got to high school there was a distinct shift in his thinking and worldview. He began going to great lengths to fit in with his peers. “I saw the popular kids with the girls and wanted to be like them,” he said. “I knew the way in was to start smoking and drinking.” And thus his substance use history began. While maneuvering his way into this peer group, Whitaker became involved in a relationship with a girl. When the relationship ended, his substance use began to spiral out of control. “I replaced the obsession with the relationship with an obsession for drugs and alcohol.”

During his senior year in high school, Whitaker began to skip classes as a result of his preoccupation with using drugs and alcohol. “I realized I had a serious problem so I went to local support groups a few times,” said Whitaker. “But, I didn’t put in any effort and went right back to using.”

Whitaker’s escalating problem lead him to do things that he would have never otherwise done. He began stealing from people and forging checks from his parents’ bank accounts. Though he recalls feeling terrible remorse for his actions, the cravings for drugs and alcohol won out. “I continued to use drugs to suppress how I felt about myself,” said Whitaker. When Whitaker’s parents learned what was happening they decided to send him to residential treatment. Following a two-month stay in a primary treatment center, Whitaker made his way to Turnbridge for continuing care.

During his stay at Turnbridge, Whitaker suffered a brief lapse, which he now believes to be “the greatest thing to ever happen to me.” Whitaker learned a lot about himself through this experience. “I wasn’t taking my sobriety serious enough and it made me realize how powerful my disease was,” said Whitaker.

Alumni quote
Whitaker dove back into recovery head-first. “I was passionate about getting better and knew what I had to do,” Whitaker said. “I naturally started reaching out for help when I felt like getting high rather than waiting for the feelings to spiral out of control.” Whitaker has recently graduated from the Turnbridge program. “The length of time I spent at Turnbridge was critical. I needed this time to grow and really learn the tools needed for lasting recovery.”

“I love this place so much and want to give back to those who have been through the same struggles,” said Whitaker. “This place honestly saved my life and I never thought I’d be where I am today.” Today, Whitaker lives in a local sober home and works at Turnbridge as a Support Staff member. In addition to his employment at Turnbridge, Whitaker is excelling as a student, maintaining a 4.0 GPA.

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