A little more than a year ago, we would never have been able to imagine where we’re at today. We couldn’t visualize the ‘old’ Mike dedicating himself to anything, but he’s completed the challenges of living sober, becoming independent, finishing his EMT course and passing the State EMT certification exam. Wow! Thank you all for giving us our son back and God bless.”
- Dave & Michelle
Rec & Lifestyle
From the Family
This past month, clients in the Turnbridge Men’s Program took a drive up to the Xfinity Theatre in Hartford to see Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in concert.
Live music has always been a favorite among Turnbridge clients. For many, before their journey at Turnbridge there was often a strong association between music and drug & alcohol use. Attending concerts with the support of Turnbridge is about breaking this association.
“I love seeing the smile on their faces when they are just having a genuine good time without drugs and alcohol,” said Chris H., Operations Manager. “They realize they don’t need to be under the influence to have a good time. You see the laughter and the pure joy in people that were hopeless or broken. To witness change like that makes this the best job in the world.”
“I did not think you could have fun sober,” said Phase 1 client, Greg R. “I flat out did not think it was possible. Being able to go experience live music while in treatment is a first for me. Music is such a huge part of my recovery. I had a blast and so did the other guys I was with. It really opens your eyes to see that it is possible to have fun sober.”
Cori Wilkes, Case Manager in the Turnbridge Women’s Program, is the Unsung Hero for the month of July 2017.
Cori started with Turnbridge in September of 2016 and quickly established herself as a vital member of the team. “It is exciting to be a part of something big,” said Cori. “It can definitely be overwhelming at times, but the team of people that I work with is what allows me to be able to do my job so well. I always feel I have someone to lean on for support. The way we operate as a team helps show our clients how to build relationships.”
“Everyone at the Turnbridge Women’s Program is there because they want to help and show these young women that you can live a healthy, happy, sober life,” said Cori. “I continue to do this work because even if I can help one person with one small success during their day, that for me is what it’s all about.”
Gloria P., the mother of Turnbridge Client, Genna, describes her daughter as a sweet, loving girl with a huge heart.
Gloria recalls that Genna, the oldest of two girls, began showing signs of struggle in her mid-teens.“When she was around 15, I started feeling concerned about some of the behavioral issues we were seeing and we tried to work through those challenges,“ said Gloria. “We took her out of public school and put her in a smaller private school.” Genna did well in this new environment and went on to be accepted at multiple colleges.
When Genna arrived at college, her mother saw a marked shift. “That summer after school was the perfect storm,” said Gloria.“Things got out of control while she was away at school and she met a few people that were negative influences in her life. It took a while to acknowledge what was going on. Finally, we confronted her and told her to take a drug test or she would have to leave. She decided to leave. It was a gut-wrenching feeling as a parent to present the ultimatum, let alone your child actually leaving.”
After a brief period, Genna admitted to her parents that she was using heroin and asked for help. She attended short-term treatment, but really struggled to accept the idea of abstinence from substances other than heroin. She returned to drinking and smoking marijuana shortly after leaving treatment and returning home, and her life began to spiral again. The next few months included numerous outpatient treatment enrollments and a totaled vehicle.
“Things started to go missing out of the house,” said Gloria.“We were in the same spot, giving her the same ultimatum, and Genna decided to leave again. The first thing I would do every morning was check the status of her cell phone because if she was using the phone that meant she was still alive. It was an awful experience. Eventually, she landed with a family friend and reached out to me for help again.”
Genna enrolled at a primary treatment center in Connecticut and then transitioned to the Turnbridge Women’s Program for extended care, where she has flourished. Genna just recently celebrated 1-year of continuous sobriety.
“The weekly calls from Turnbridge staff, and the right connection with the Case Manager have been amazing” said Gloria. “Turnbridge has eyes and ears everywhere and is hands-on, while allowing her to see her own actions and their effects.”
Recently, Genna suffered the traffic loss of a close friend. “When her friend died she was embraced,” said Gloria. “All of the staff at Turnbridge share their stories to help others that go through similar experiences.”
“The family workshop was very helpful,” added Pat P., Genna’s father. “We thought we did a few of these already but it was different than most. Learning to step back and support her appropriately has been key. I’ve learned that I don’t have to like the situation I am in, but I can like the person I am in that situation, which is the stance I take with Genna. We are very proud of all the work she’s done and happy with the amount of love that surrounds our daughter at Turnbridge.”
Originally from New York, Brad grew up in a supportive home with an older brother and younger sister, and was provided with everything he needed to succeed.
Brad excelled in school and played on three varsity sports teams in high school. He had tremendous potential and his family had very high expectations for his future.
But, despite his natural gifts, Brad can recall always feeling like something wasn’t quite right. “I remember going to birthday parties at 8 years old and always feeling isolated,” said Brad. “When I was 14 I drank for the first time with my cousin down in Florida and I instantly felt better.”
“When I came home from Florida, I started seeking out prescription medications that I found around the house,” said Brad. “I started smoking weed. I had made a decision that I would never go a day sober again. It wasn’t long before I was stealing to get what I needed.”
“I can remember kicking the game winning field goal in a football game and I was excited for about 6 minutes and then it went away,” said Brad. “I could never get enough of a good feeling. I always needed more.”
“In high school I played several sports, was going to practice, maintained my grades and everything on the outside still looked fine,” said Brad. “I got into college at Bryant University. I was playing D1 football as a kicker. I was always a blackout drinker, but in college the frequency progressed. The pills slowed me down and the drinking picked me back up.”
“It quickly got unmanageable,” said Brad. “I began steeling more and more from my parents and my sister. I couldn’t keep the charade going. Over the course of the next couple months my girlfriend broke up with me and both my grandparents passed away. It got dark. I would wake up and immediately drink to go back to sleep.”
“I don’t remember segments of my life,” said Brad. “I can remember looking in the mirror and not knowing where I was or what happened the last few weeks. I had multiple seizures in front of family members. My parents didn’t want me living with them and stopped giving me money. This is when I told them I have a problem.”
Brad’s parents found Turnbridge. “At first, I had no idea how recovery worked,” said Brad. “I came in broken and humbled I had no idea who I was. I started taking suggestions. I got a sponsor. Certain things came easier than others. I had some life experience, but quickly realized I knew nothing of how to live sober. I eventually made the choice that I was going to give recovery an honest chance.”
“Turnbridge allows you to tackle one problem at a time,” said Brad. “It slows life down, which addicts tend to twist into being impossible. Speed creates unmanageability in my life. Turnbridge taught me to look at things one at a time and create a plan of action to see how I handle them. The staff give you advice based on experience, and I can see now why certain things are done and set in place.”
Brad is currently taking classes with Bryant University, teaching swim lessons and life guarding at the local YMCA, and volunteer in the community. He is interested in staying in the New Haven area after completing Turnbridge. “I couldn’t have done this by myself,” said Brad.
Offering the Freedom to Engage
I recently marked one year in Connecticut. I drove up here from Austin, Texas, in a big UHaul with my car in tow. I remember getting to a toll booth just outside New York City, and I didn’t have the necessary funds for that final toll. (New Jersey cost more than I thought it would.) I let down the toll booth employee, and we haven’t spoken since.
As long as I’ve worked in this field, when parents struggle or refuse to firm boundaries, I’ve had to let their children down by expressing “This program is your option.” In 30-day treatment, a client would assure me staying that long would ruin his life. In 60-day treatment, a client was usually certain such a long duration would wreck her future. And now in this long-term program, just about everyone tells me it stinks.
Except the young man who just completed the program. His folks were wholly concrete with him: you have one option and it’s to engage in and complete this program; we won’t entertain dialog around an early exit; utilize the help. Separately, to us they said: do what you do.
As a result, their son settled in. He got used to things. He learned skills. He obtained a job and worked; he volunteered long after the Phase II expectation ended. He developed hobbies, interests, and friendships. He built an extensive sober network. And he recently completed Turnbridge.
This young man made healthy and appropriate mistakes. He received and accepted challenging feedback from peers. He has a far greater amount of self-worth since our first sessions. He grew the ability to ask someone out without the presence of alcohol in his system. He came to own his sober status. And he never got upset when I challenged him to raise his bar.
For this young man’s peers who struggle to engage, program duration is never the issue. Underneath that challenge is the reality that if a young person engages fully in Turnbridge, she/he will grow immensely while experiencing appropriate levels of structure, support, and supervision at the residences.
I came here because I knew that a person can grow skills in Phase I. She/he can begin applying those skills in Phase II as stressors are integrated. And -- most importantly -- clients can practice their skills extensively in Phase III while determining who they want to be. Often in Phase III clients make changes that they couldn’t even have imagined when they entered Phase III.
Take some Phase III client comments I’ve heard in the past week: I dealt with a really difficult customer today. My son called me to see what was going on in my life this week. My sister said thanks for hosting her this weekend. I approached my professor about a grading issue. I made amends to my Phase I case manager. I started to practice daily affirmations, and it’s so uncomfortable... but I’m doing it!
I moved here because I strongly believe in the long-term work we do. Your child can grow beyond your wildest expectations. While I’d love to see the changes not require so much time to come about, after six years of counseling young people I struggle to believe that’s possible. Growth happens slowly over time. Our Turnbridge team is here to support every step of the way.
In a couple weeks, I’ll attend a Mets game with the aforementioned fellow, the one whose parents said, “Just do it.” He is so proud of the changes he’s making. It’s been remarkable to see his growth. He enjoys his job, is in the process of completing his college degree, is building his familial relationships, and responsibly uses a car.
For some time now, no one has let him down. He doesn’t view the world through that lens. And he hasn’t let himself down. He copes with mistakes, looks at the positives, and overcomes hurdles. He’s altering his self-talk.
I’m really looking forward to attending the ballgame with him. The whole experience will be really special, much like the last year has been. And I’ve offered to pay the tolls.
Turnbridge Alumni, Mason E., grew up in a supportive home, but recalled there being much conflict between him and his parents due to his misplaced anger and substance abuse.
“This inward hatred came out with outward hatred toward everyone else,” said Mason. “I didn’t think I deserved to be loved. I would do things that would intentionally prevent them from loving me so that I could continue using drugs and getting high without being disturbed.”
Mason’s alcoholism progressed rapidly over the course of his adolescence and young adulthood and took him to places he never thought he’d go. In 2015, his life began to truly unravel as he dropped out of college and began selling drugs to support his habit. “I was eventually stealing jewelry from my two mothers while they were on vacation.”
“In March 2016, I was arrested for possession,” said Mason.“My parents bailed me out the next day and sent me to a residential treatment center in Georgia.” As Mason was nearing the end of his stay, the treatment team he was working with recommended Turnbridge for continuing care. Mason agreed to continue his treatment at Turnbridge.
“I came to Turnbridge with a fake attitude at first,” said Mason. “I wasn’t really getting honest with others around me but I could do the stuff required of me on paper. I could get a sponsor, wake up on time, do chores, and go to meetings, but struggled with honesty.”
“Eventually, in spite of myself, I got connected to other guys at Turnbridge and in the surrounding recovery community,” said Mason. “I started developing life skills and learning how to manage my time with studying and school work. I learned how to be present in society. I started feeling better.”
“Turnbridge allowed me to struggle in a safe environment,” said Mason. “It allowed me to sit in the discomfort I created and presented me with options to get out of it, pointing me in the direction of the decisions that helped me in the long run. Eventually, I found that I was changing. I found that I genuinely wanted to help other people. It finally wasn’t just for show.”
“Nothing has changed since I discharged from Turnbridge,” said Mason. “I have a day-to-day routine that I follow. I live in the area and still stop by Phase 1 and offer support. I am up at 8:30AM every day, eat breakfast, go to the gym, and I try to give back what was given to me. I couldn’t do this on my own. Turnbridge allowed me to hit emotional bottoms and come out of it stronger.”
“In sobriety I have had the opportunity to make amends to my mothers and my sister and I have gained those relationships back,” said Mason. “I am eternally grateful for the life I have today.”
18 MONTHS Max H.
17 MONTHS Eric D.
15 Months Hunt K.
13 Months Genna P.
11 MONTHS Benjamin G. Bryce D.
9 MONTHS Jamie C.
8 MONTHS Edward R.
7 MONTHS Gabrielle F.
6 MONTHS Daniel O.
5 MONTHS Samantha K.
4 MONTHS Daniel N.
1 MONTH Madeline S.