I am so grateful to you and the entire TB staff to have returned our son back to our family. We were lost over many years in addressing his addiction. His sobriety has brought him back to life. His work and teachings at TB have given him a “lifelong task” to be a safe productive person in society.
Parents of a Turnbridge Graduate
Rec & Lifestyle
From the Family
This past month, the Turnbridge Men’s program headed out to Six Flags New England for a full day of fun, camaraderie, and rollercoaster rides.
For many young people just entering recovery, the idea of experiencing joy without the use of drugs and alcohol can seem incomprehensively. The recreational activities at Turnbridge are designed to instill hope in these young people that you can have a good time without the use of substances.
“It was great to just get outside on a really nice day to do something fun” said Phase I client, Alex D. “The rollercoasters were a good time for everyone.”
“I really enjoy going on outings with the guys like this one,” said Alex Pritchard, Turnbridge Support Staff member. “It really shows them that there is more to life than how they were living prior to coming to Turnbridge.”
“It was really hot out, but we still had a great time,” said Richard H., Phase I client. “Having fun being sober is possible. This trip proved that to me. It was a good experience.”
Lynn Walker, LCSW
Lynn Walker is the Turnbridge Unsung Hero for the month of June 2017. “The people that I work with have such drive to help,” said Lynn. “Previous places I’ve worked felt like a job. Turnbridge is a lifestyle.”
Lynn was recently promoted to the position of Associate Clinical Director at Turnbridge. Part of her role includes performing initial clinical assessments with new clients. “I like being able to meet each new client the first day they are here.” said Lynn.
“Having the opportunity to offer supervision to our therapy team in my new role is something I’m really enjoying.” said Lynn. “I like being able to know how each of our clients are progressing and this role has given me that. I get to see all the changes they go through while they are with us, and as they get closer to completing the program.”
“Turnbridge is such a great program. The success rate is so much higher and the families, as a whole, are so much happier.”
Monica L., mother of current Turnbridge client, Rachel L., described Rachel as an academically gifted child.
According to Monica, Rachel excelled in school, but right around the time when Rachel got to high school, Monica started noticing some red flags with her substance use. “One night, I had to pick her up because she drank too much.” recalled Monica. “I thought it was normal behavior for a high schooler, trying things like alcohol at her age.”
Monica’s concerns continued to grow over the course time during Rachel’s high school years. “She would stay out a lot,” said Monica. “She was never home, which was a recipe for disaster.”
After Rachel graduated from high school, she got a job working at a pizzeria. Monica was concerned that Rachel was using marijuana, but at this time was not aware off the full scope of Rachel’s substance use.
“One day, we received an anonymous phone call from Rachel’s work that she was suspected for using heroin and was told to leave work,” said Monica. “I immediately went to where she was. I started talking to her about getting help, but I had no education or idea at all about how to go about doing so.”
Monica was hopeful that a change in geography would be the solution to Rachel’s problems and she ended up locating a short-term residential program in Arizona. Rachel completed the program, but “there was no follow up and the tools for learning how to live were not there,” said Monica. “Rachel remained convinced that she could use other substances besides heroin safely and we moved her back to New Jersey were she began taking college classes. She received an academic scholarship, but then abruptly stopped going to classes. We thought she had to be abusing drugs again. When we realized she wasn’t going to class that was a very helpless feeling.”
Recognizing this time that she couldn’t control Rachel’s decisions, Monica made the decision that she was going to stop financially supporting Rachel’s lifestyle. “We took the car, which was a pivotal point,” said Monica. “She was lending it out to people for drugs. I told her unless she wants help she cannot live with us, which was very hard to do. I realized I could do nothing about this situation. Rachel is this beautiful, educated, smart girl that has so much going for her. It is hard, as a parent, to see your child destroy their life without realizing it or with no regard for anyone else.”
“Rachel finally called me and asked for help,” said Monica. “I told her if she was willing to get help I will help her. I learned from Lauren Springer, Turnbridge Family Liaison, how to support someone who is battling addiction. I learned what boundaries to set and how to articulate what I would and would not support.”
Rachel finally made it to the Turnbridge Women’s Program in August of 2016. “Her attitude changed almost instantly about the relationships she had,” said Monica. “The first time I heard her say ‘everyone that was talking to me was right, I just wasn’t ready to hear it’ was the first time I heard her be honest in a while.”
“Rachel and I can have honest conversations now,” said Monica. “The case managers at Turnbridge that have worked with her have been fabulous. I love the fact that I am in constant communication with Turnbridge. The education and information provided has been immensely helpful.”
Rachel is now deeply involved in the New Haven recovery community. She attends 12-step meetings and is actively involved in service work. She has spoken at local high schools and has a sober network that is expanding rapidly. Rachel has volunteered in the community and works at a local cafe, all while taking college courses at a local community college.
“We hope to continue seeing Rachel take on responsibility in a health way.” said Monica. “There was strain on some of the family and now those relationships are rekindling. I couldn’t be happier with the progress that she has made, the relationships that are forming, and her own commitment to her recovery at Turnbridge is so strong. I hope it continues so Rachel can live her life as a sober woman.”
The Impact of Substance Abuse and Mental Illness on Lifespan Development
The young men and women who come to Turnbridge face many challenges, not the least of which is suffering with the insidious disease of addiction. Another less considered challenge for these young men and women, but perhaps no less important, is the developmental period of life they find themselves in. Throughout life, different stages of development are identified: infancy, young childhood, middle childhood, late childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, adulthood, and old age. As behavioral health professionals increase and refine their knowledge of the brain and its development, a greater understanding of late adolescence and young adulthood has emerged. Each stage of lifespan development has its unique challenges and tasks to complete for an individual to reach the next level of life.
The particular challenges of late adolescence and young adulthood are many and varied. Things like developing an identity in the midst of significant physical changes, developing an identity for the future as an adult, completing an education or training toward employment, choosing a life partner, and starting a family. These transitions have been extended in the post-industrial world. In the 1950’s only 25% of Americans sought higher education, and many people stayed in the parental household until they married in their late teens. The median age to marry is now 26 years of age for women and 27.5 years of age for men. A lot has changed to extend the developmental period of late adolescence and young adulthood -- two categories of development that actually did not exist several generations ago. Along with these psychological and psychosocial changes come real changes in brain development. Research has shown that emerging adulthood is a time when cognitive control over emotional responses increase.
Behavioral researchers now know that the typical brain is not fully mature, at a minimum, until 25 years of age. Therefore, brain development remains sensitive to environment and environmental influences during the years 18-25. What does this mean for the young men and women at Turnbridge? Natural brain development is continued in the years 18-25 and influenced by many environmental factors. Psychiatric illness, substance abuse and general emotional and cognitive development are all competing for space.
The developing brain clearly can be impeded by psychiatric illness and substance abuse. Since emotional regulation is one of the developmental tasks that take place in the years 18-25, important maturational development is clearly at risk when it is compromised by mental illness and substance abuse. A key component in the Phase I treatment for our clients is the growth and training of emotional regulation. Through the use of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) as a modality, our Clients in Phase I receive education and training to help them recognize emotions and to self-regulate distressful emotions. All clients receive nine hours of group therapy, working to develop their knowledge and skills of emotional regulation, distress tolerance, mindfulness, and interpersonal effectiveness. Each of these areas of development are occurring naturally in their developmental stage, and may be compromised because of mental illness or substance abuse.
Many of Turnbridge clients have also experienced trauma. Another component of Phase I treatment is Seeking Safety. Seeking Safety is a program that was created from trauma theory and therapy. In Seeking Safety, clients continue to receive knowledge and skills to help navigate and manage painful and disturbing incidents in their lives. Both of these treatment modalities combine extremely well with the Alcoholic Anonymous 12-Step program, a complementary component of the treatment at Turnbridge. The holistic approach of addressing mental health issues, substance abuse issues, and lifespan development contribute to a treatment program sensitive to all areas of a late adolescent/young adult person’s needs.
As an individual therapist working and collaborating with the young men and women at Turnbridge, I am often struck by their courage, intelligence, and insight. Battling the myriad challenges they each face is a daunting endeavor. Each day I observe how they approach these challenges with grace, wit, and courage. It is the most satisfying part of my job. Having the opportunity to join these young men and women in their journey to health and wellness motivates me to work as hard as they do in helping them get well and develop into productive adults.
Originally from Westchester County, New York, Erin C. grew up in a supportive home with her three siblings.
At a very young age, Erin discovered that she had an unrelenting passion for music. She began playing the piano at the age of six and starting singing at age 7. “Music was a big part of my upbringing and what I was passionate about,” recalled Erin.
Erin struggled with ADHD as a child, and as a result her grades in school were inconsistent. She recalled that her first experience with a mood-altering chemical came when she was taking a prescribed stimulant for her ADHD. “I went on to drink for the first time when I was 13,” said Erin. “It was not a good experience, but for some reason I still couldn’t wait to do it all over again.”
Shortly thereafter, Erin tried marijuana for the first time. “From the very start, I was always trying to sneak around people and trying to hide my use,” said Erin. “I was counting down the time for the weekend so I could do it again.”
Erin’s parents realized what was going on and enrolled her in a wilderness therapy program. “I did not want to be sober at the time,” said Erin. After completing the program, she came home and picked up right where she left off.” Naturally things progressed and my drug use got heavier.”
Erin eventually progressed to using heroin and cocaine. “I started making worse decisions, became more reckless, and had two pretty bad overdoses that year.” Over the coming years Erin would attend numerous treatment programs and achieve varying periods of sobriety.
In 2014, Erin was accepted into her dream school, Berklee College of Music. Unfortunately her addiction followed her to school. Erin recalled that she eventually “lost passion for music”, and that her addiction “became an obligation”. “I couldn’t write songs and I couldn’t perform well,” said Erin. “I lasted about a month there due to my drug use.”
After being asked to leave, Erin sought to return to Berklee and they eventually agreed to allow her back in September 2015 after she had accumulated nearly 16 months of continuous sobriety. She relapsed shortly after returning. “I didn’t establish a sober network, I stopped going to meetings and I was living on my own,” said Erin. “I had a full-fledged relapse that continued for a year, and it got worse than it’s ever been.” After four overdoses and other related health consequences, she was at her breaking point.
In June of 2016 Erin arrived at the Turnbridge Woman’s Program. “I was willing to do anything to stay sober,” said Erin. “The staff, the clients, and the way the program has been structured is hard because it’s long, but I think its super necessary. I’ve really held on to the people at Turnbridge that believed in me and that helped me believe that they believed.”
“Now that I’m in Phase III I can go back to the Phase I house to mentor new girls, which is an amazing feeling to be of service, and that is huge for me,” said Erin. Erin also volunteers at Musical Intervention, which is a sober music lounge for people in the New Haven recovery community that hosts open mic nights and offers music lessons. “It’s been really rewarding” said Erin.
“When I first got here my parents held their boundaries with me,“ said Erin. “Due to the constant in-and-out of treatment, they were fed up. Since then, they have started to trust me again. I am able to be an active member of my family and support my siblings who also struggle from addiction. I wasn’t sure it was going to return to that. Turnbridge helped me reconstruct those relationships.”
“Turnbridge has gone above and beyond for me,” said Erin. “Out of all the programs I’ve been to this program by far is the best and I am blessed to be a part of it. This isn’t the longest time I have sober (8 months) but I feel the quality of my sobriety has increased with what I have been taught here. I feel very confident moving forward and I was brought here to this program for a reason.”
Turnbridge Alumni, Nate G., recalled that he had his first drink at 15 years of age.
He didn’t know it at the time, but this experience with alcohol would trigger a debilitating progression. While in high school, Nate’s substance use broadened to a variety of substances, including marijuana, amphetamines, and cocaine. By the time Nate was in college, Nate’s life had become totally unmanageable as a result of his substance abuse problem.
In college, Nate was part of the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), a program that prepares young adults to become officers in the Military. But, as a result of his difficulties with substances, Nate was eventually removed from this program by his parents. After withdrawing from college, Nate felt like he had nothing to lose and his behavior became increasingly reckless, leading to a run-in with the law. Following an arrest for disorderly conduct, Nate’s parents bailed him out and gave him a simple ultimatum. “I was given the option of accepting help or hopelessness,” said Nate. “I chose help and found myself at Caron Treatment Center in Wernersville, PA. I spent a thirty days at Caron. By the end, I believed I was in the right place and needed to be there.”
The professionals at Caron recommended to Nate and his family that he continue his care at Turnbridge. Nick arrived in New Haven and was quick to engage in the program. “I was incredibly happy when I first got to Turnbridge.” said Nate. “I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I found the combination of individual and group therapy to be the best thing that could have happened to me. I never developed a trusting relationship with a therapist like I did at Turnbridge. For whatever reason, I was beaten down when I got to Turnbridge and from that point I was brutally honest with my case manager and therapist.”
“Early on in Phase I, my case manager, Sam Cohen, introduced me to someone who had a story similar to mine who happened to work for Turnbridge,” said Nate. “I related a lot with the people that worked with me at Turnbridge and the people I met through them. Having the ability to develop a network of people I could rely on if I needed to reach out was essential.”
“I eventually began volunteering,” recalled Nate. “I actually got my first job as part of the Kitchen Staff here at Turnbridge. Eventually, I was hired as a house manager for one of Phase III houses.”
While in Phase III, Nate enrolled in an EMT program. “I took EMT courses at the Yale New Haven Sponsor Hospital Program.” said Nate. “I ended up finishing up all my exams and getting nationally certified right before I graduated Turnbridge. My current plan for the future is to get a job with an ambulance company while I go back to school to get a degree in nursing. I got accepted into Southern Connecticut State University Pre-Nursing, which is going to be great.”
“I am currently working as a Support Staff member in the Turnbridge Men’s Program,” said Nate. “Work keeps me connected. I wasn’t ready to jump straight into being an EMT when I left. Learning to be aware of what I can handle and make sacrifices in the short term is a huge part of my growth. I did what I thought was best for my sobriety, and to continue to work in an atmosphere that allows me to humble myself every day.”
“During the time I was in Turnbridge my life started a path that I believe I was meant to take,” said Nate. “Even before things got really bad, I never had that feeling that I do now. My life is my life, my path is my path, and I can choose to do whatever I want with my life right now. My network keeps expanding even outside of Turnbridge, I have friends that are in recovery and I have friends that aren’t in recovery that have impacted my life for the best.”
“I got sober to have fun, progress in my life, and to not be stuck in the miserable hole that I was in not long ago.” said Nate. “The fact I came in completely broken with nothing, and left with a stronger ability to better the lives of the people around me, not just my own, is a feeling like no other.”
17 MONTHS JB M.
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